Why analyzing online behavior is key in Asia’s new normal

online behavior
Image by aurielaki | Bigstockphoto

Analytics is crucial to understanding digital interactions. Mixpanel’s approach is to dial up the spotlight on online behavior insights.

In its February 2022 mobile internet usage roundup, Statista confirmed the usage of smartphones and tablets had become an everyday fixture across much of the world. Accounting for almost 55% of total web traffic, the number of unique mobile internet users stood at 4.32 billion in 2021, equating to more than 90% of the global internet population use a mobile device to go online.

Interesting, mobile-first markets such as Asia and Africa, mobile connections suggested a bigger share of webpage views. In addition, Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company’s recent e-Conomy SEA 2021 Report highlights that 40 million new internet users had come online in 2021 and boosted the Southeast Asia internet to 75%.

These shifts to online usage are commonly attributed to pandemic-linked lockdowns and continuing fragile global conditions.

Scott Pugh

During an interview with Disruptive.Asia, Scott Pugh, who is regional VP & general manager – APAC, at business analytics company Mixpanel, said that ‘Asia Pacific is now one of the most digitally connected regions in the world with most users having skipped desktop computing and straight to mobile devices and that understanding users’ online behavior is key for companies in this market.’

The pandemic has exacerbated this, which has driven accelerated digitization, he said.

“From retail companies pivoting to e-commerce, media companies moving to subscription models to e-payment apps taking over cash. Product analytics is mission-critical to these digital transformations and the launch of new products and sectors.”

“Considering how much digitization has accelerated in the last two years, it’s more critical than ever to understand digital interactions,” Scott added.

This presents a challenge for many organizations, as their existing technology stack may not be built to measure their whole customer journey. Mixpanel transforms the way companies analyze their digital interactions in a self-serve fashion by quickly putting important insights into the hands of teams, so they can also act on opportunities quickly.

The company’s differentiation from marketing analytics – which usually asks questions around site visitor numbers, where they are coming from and how long they spend on the site – is to dial up the spotlight on online behavior insights. Scott listed some of the Mixpanel platform provisions looking into finding answers to:

  • Who are my power users? How is their online behavior different from other users
  • Why do some users convert and not others?
  • What is driving user engagement and retention?
  • Did our new product feature cause the desired change in user online behavior?

As Mixpanel is a self-service tool – eschewing the need for data teams and reports for each question – it delivers a multi-funnel analysis to help understand conversion rates and where users are dropping off in a sign-up flow. “The same report may require hundreds of lines in SQ: code to create,” Scott points out.

“Most companies use a variety of products in their data and marketing technology stack. This includes messaging tools, CRM tools, data warehouses and more. We’ve taken an approach that supports this trend. Mixpanel has integrations with over 50 different top tools on the market so we can easily fit within an organisation’s broader technology stack,” he said.

Escalating digital experiences

Speaking to the question of ways of enhancing digital experiences, converting more customers and retaining them for continued revenue, he said:

“We’ve seen that the answer often lies in how well companies are taking advantage of the rich insights that user interaction provides. Our customers have positively impacted key business metrics like conversion rates and customer retention rates through making fast, impactful data-driven decisions when developing their digital products. Improvements in these metrics have a major impact on the bottom line.”

Scott outlined some of the company’s activities worldwide and in the Asia Pacific region, which include working with Meesho, KKDay, Paidy, and LinkAja.

For example, KKDay, a travel e-commerce company with operations across Asia, has adopted Mixpanel to better understand online behavior by analyzing the keywords that users were searching on its platform and realised 80% of users were searching for city names. Acting on this insight, the company developed a new feature in their search box, which showed the top 20 cities in the search box before the user even starts to type the search terms – making the search experience faster for the majority of users.

KKDay also looked into how its products were sorted and displayed on their platform. After analysing the results in Mixpanel, the company realized it could show the most relevant products by ranking these based on a combination of the number of times a product was sold and the number of times they were viewed. This led to a 7.7% increase in click-through rates.

“Smaller startups also find a lot of value in using data to help them find product-market fit,” said Scott, pointing to the example of Passion Factory, creators of a popular health and wellness app, who used Mixpanel early in their journey to track user retention (a key metric indicating product-market fit).

“Passion Factory had an innovative chatbot feature at the heart of the product and used Mixpanel to compare the engagement rates with different chat dialogues to understand which dialogue options drove engagement and which ones did not,” explained Scott. “They used conversion funnel reports to understand where users were dropping off so they could continue to optimise the chat dialogues to drive more engagement.

He went on to describe how Passion Factory also grouped users who had the same preferences into segments, then continued to build new chatbot flows to cater to each segment to drive further personalisation. This continuous data-driven optimisation helped them drive a more than 250% increase in the four-week user retention rate in a year.

Scott maintains that Mixpanel’s core is in measuring user online behavior in apps and websites and “that this is important because many analytics tools aren’t. People sometimes confuse marketing analytics or website analytics with product analytics, but they’re good at answering different types of questions.”

He reaffirmed that Mixpanel helps teams learn from their data by democratising access without the need for writing arduous SQL.

“[This] makes data analysts and data scientists more efficient by answering questions of their product quickly and freeing up time to work on bigger business challenges around AI and algorithms directly linked to their product. All the while product and engineering teams access data on a self-serve basis without bottlenecking the data teams, speeding up their decision making.”

Necessities in the digital era

He said that some of the most digitally connected countries globally are in Asia Pacific, which puts them in a lead position for digital transformation.

“Of course, there are differences between countries in the region but things like a high mobile penetration rate, and great examples of highly digital societies like South Korea, China, and Singapore to learn from.”

“Talent is a hot commodity across the world right now; Asia Pacific is no different,” he continued. “We are seeing a lot of Asian diaspora returning to the region from the US or Europe having studied and or worked in tech companies in more developed markets, bringing ideas, knowledge and expertise and launching companies.”

Indeed, other leaders have confirmed an ever-growing need to develop the right skills for digital product development, from software developers to data scientists to product management in the region over and above what universities offer.

“This coming from a growing edtech space with global and local companies such as Reforge, datacamp and Cloudguru offering training to upskill teams and local support and training networks like Product School, Apiary Academy offer group training.”

Looking forward

Looking forward into 2022 and beyond, Scott said: “Digital-first companies are by nature, quite well equipped for the digital era, so I think the key for them is to take advantage of the data that they have and get deeper into analysing the data. Think beyond basic metrics like the number of visitors or where are they coming from. The data can tell you much more about what works and what doesn’t. This is a perfect opportunity to take a really customer-centric approach to business.

The same opportunity exists for businesses that are not digitally native, but they have an added transformational challenge.

“So the first step would be to think about what, where, and how they should develop a digital platform for their business. This is not a small or simple exercise, but it is an important one since digitisation is accelerating and there’s really no turning back.”

“Some businesses, like traditional taxi companies, may already have websites and apps, and for them, it will be an exercise to better integrate these digital platforms into their overall business. The websites and apps are no longer just nice to have; they’re key for retaining customers and driving growth.”

Scott’s takeaway is: “If you’re doing business in this market, then understanding and improving digital experiences is a necessity and not an option. If you look at some of the hottest companies and largest unicorns in the region, many of them have built businesses with incredible growth and they’re all based on a digital product. You’ll be left behind if you don’t have a digitization strategy.”

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