funnels for product teams

Think of your product as a funnel and improve retention

From Abril

Getting people to get value from a product is not an easy thing, but looking into the funnels it has can help make it easier. Wait … aren’t funnels a marketing thing? đź‘€

What is a funnel anyway?

Imagine a pyramid, now invert it and then slice it into different parts: congratulations, you have a funnel.  

A funnel is a concept usually applied to marketing strategies, and refers to a series of steps that the visitors or customers must go through to complete a concrete action. They have a top, middle, and bottom section; that can vary according to the use of the funnel, e.g: the AIDA funnel model (Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action). 

In other words, a funnel is a system to understand how customers move towards a desired action.

Every business is different, so everyone has to plan out their own funnel to use it correctly. You can imagine how your funnel should be and then you can adjust it as business grows.

Outlining every funnel in your business is the first step to be able to optimize them and meet your goals.

Funnels aren’t just for marketing 

Yes. Funnels are traditionally associated with marketing. However, at Palabra we quickly learned funnels can also be used to improve your product.

Business goals are important for product teams, but so are the users. So they need to converge: funnels are the perfect tool for such a task. 

According to Alex Iskold, partner at 2048 Ventures, we can think of every department in a startup as a step in the funnel: Marketing would be at the top and Customer Success at the bottom. And the product? right before Customer Success. That means that Product and Customer are the two main cores of the startup and there’re where your focus should be applied. 

What if… your product is a funnel?

Once you get the funnel concept out of marketing, you find that you can apply it to just about anything. Including the product.

You can go deep into your funnel to find the precise actions that make up your product success, and the exact steps people take to get there.

In a funnel, the beginning of the process is where the largest number of users enter. As they go through the steps, many of them are lost throughout the process. The final number that reaches the conversion is a minimum percentage of the start.

Studying the metrics of the funnel process allows you to work to reduce the loss of users in each step of the process.

For example: Let’s say your product is a video upload platform. Success for that product is not to get people to upload videos, but rather to do something with that upload.

We may want users to embed the video in their website, or share it with someone else (that depends on our business goals as well). That’s the end of the funnel. And the steps users take to value are what makes up that funnel (like signing up, uploading a video, maybe installing a plug in).

Once you find your product’s main funnel, you’re ready to start optimizing each of those steps. We may find, for example, that most users fall out before embedding the video. Looking into it, we may find there’s a UX improvement we can do (or a notification we can send).

Optimizing one or more steps in a funnel is the easiest way to improve your product KPIs.

Likewise, this can be applied with all facets of your product. You can visualize each of these stages as a funnel in itself.

Some examples for product-oriented funnels: 

Onboarding funnel
An important part of delivering a product is that your users can reach value soon to understand it. If you have many steps people need to take to get to value, you’ll probably have a lot of users falling out. Finding where the drop off is and optimizing your onboarding will improve your activation.

Free to paid funnel
Whether you have a free trial or free plan in your product, you probably want to keep track of the steps users take to move from free to paid users. There can be infinite reasons why users are not converting, so tracking more than one funnel on free to paid is an easy way to meet business goals with your product.

Why we chose funnels as a tool for product teams

Product teams are used to think about user flows rather than funnels. We think funnels provide unique insights to teams, helping connect business goals with product efforts.

While creating Palabra, our focus was in creating an easy way for product teams to create and see their main funnel.

In the sea of information, product teams have to navigate to get answers and prioritize features, funnels are a good way of creating order within the chaos.

By focusing on a specific funnel (or even specific steps within that funnel), you can quickly look into what you can do to improve conversion, and prioritize features.

The best part of funnels is that they give you something to focus on.

Ours is not the only funnel-oriented product tool, of course. Most analytics tools use funnels, like Mixpanel, Smartlook and Amplitude.

We’d like to extend that use of funnels for non technical teams, and are working towards it.

If you haven’t yet found the funnels within your product, or the tools you’re using aren’t working for non-technical roles within your team, we’d love to help out.

You can book a demo if you want us to discuss your funnels in depth.