Category Archives: Product Evangelism

From Social Graph To Product Graph: Engaging Through Interactive Product & Content Display

Whenever I have purchased an electronic gadget, I have had a hard time deciding on compatible accessories or products that are related to my purchase, and their necessity. Questions keep popping in my head: Do I really need it, do I need some research on accessories as well, am I buying the right thing? And this has always made me admire the Amazon website as I find most of the answers right there. What I am talking about is their “also bought” and “considered” section on any product page.

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I have also been a fan of Social graphs or Relation browsers (above), an aspect that I used in my professional networking venture Zitara. If we talk about some of the offerings available, we could look at Touchgraph that graphs Amazon books and clusters the results, relationships between them, etc. There are a few others e.g. Thinkmap, Constellation Roamer, that are relatively well known.

In my opinion, interactive product graphs within any e-commerce site that has numerous products to display, would make our selection & decision-making process much easier.

They should display the following aspects: Competing products that fit my budget (range), accessories (per product), product reviews, friends (degrees away) that bought any of the products within my selection criteria, etc.

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This would facilitate ease of selection, faster decision making and effective user engagement:

  • Ease of selection: As demonstrated above, based on parameters aka ‘faceted search’ and by applying weights to your selection criteria
  • Decision making: Range of information right from a list of related accessories, friends who seem to have an opinion on that product, #reviews/ratings
  • User Engagement: Ability to make this as interactive flex-based chart so everything gets compared and decided right on this very page

Non-impulse buyers, such as me, probably waste 40-60% time by postponing their decision, as they feel they do not have the right data or adequate information to make the right decision. By becoming a one-stop shop for content (by sourcing, partnering) and an interface that aids decision-making (rather than confusing the buyer by giving him too many options to compare), an e-commerce site should definitely be able to take up the conversion rates up by 10-15% and reduce the time spent on indecision by 40-50%.


Idea Map: Multi-directional Growth & Revenue Impact

As a Product Evangelist (or Manager), one of your primary responsibilities might be to come up with something new all the time e.g. innovative business/revenue models, new features, product enhancements. Your sources of ideas might vary: it might be through listening to your customers on their immediate needs or going beyond and conjuring what they might like a year from now. Some of your ideas might be related to what your website is doing and many of them unrelated.

Till last year, I used to maintain all these ideas in excel and usually would build an AHP model around it, get my bosses/peers to rate them, and believed some of the best ones would bubble up to the top of our list. However, I slowly realized that this was not the best way to go about it. In fact analysis of competing ideas/constructs should be done in multiple ways to ensure appropriate ‘sanity checks’. Many of your ideas might have some undercurrents that need to be expressed and judged qualitatively.

One of the ways I have started representing my group of ideas is shown below. It’s an Idea Map of sorts. First let me explain how it works.

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The x-axis is all about revenue impacting ideas, and the y-axis about experience impacting ones. On the x, the ideas on the left are related (also termed organic), and those to the right unrelated (inorganic). On the y, the ideas as they go up are about new features, and below about adding depth to existing feature sets.

Just below the x-axis, I also have boxes to call-out the extent of revenue impact these ideas promise. The arrows suggest how revenue impacting ideas (x) are related to group of features (y) suggested. You will have to take care of the granularity of the ideas mapped, so that you don’t end of comparing a tactical enhancement with a strategic business model.

Just to make sure I have all the disclaimers in place: This is a cross-sectional comparison. To restate the obvious, one should never compare ideas that have their relevance across a wider time span/horizon. An idea that has its relevance 2 years from now should not be compared with one that a customer expects to be delivered tomorrow. Similarly, ideas that are necessary for business continuity should not be compared with those that are experiential. They sit in separate comparison buckets. Talking of buckets, while I maintain these group of ideas across time, I also theme the ones I have into the following 4 areas for any online business model (website): New Business Model, Traffic & Conversion, Monetization, and User Experience. You could add Ad/Affiliate Networks, Social/Mobile as separate themes, but I believe they will fall into one of the four.

So if you think this makes sense, go ahead and try it out. If not, please do share your views on why this won’t work. I would be more than happy to hear from you.