Making a great product is never a one-time task. It is a never-ending series of optimization, iteration, analysis, and creation. To ensure a product is the best it can be, a ton of people have to get their hands in the figurative mud. One of these persons is a product analyst. In this article, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about the product analyst career path.
Before delving into the nitty-gritty of everything there is to know about product analysts, let us discuss what a product analyst does, and how they ultimately make the product better.
What is a Product Analyst?
An analyst’s job is to analyze data and make decisions that make the product more useful to the user. They drive decisions that affect the product and ultimately the user by analyzing data.
This is someone who uses data to make sure a product is the best it can be. This means analyzing data, identifying market trends, and studying customer behavior and reviews to optimize the product to better serve the user.
Based on the data studied, they can decide with the product team and the stakeholders on the best features needed to be built. They also make data-informed decisions on how to roll out products or features. Is a marketing campaign needed for a new feature? This question and more are some of the questions that analysts provide answers to.
A product analyst’s job is centered around three things:
- Product: The product forms the basis of everything a product analyst does. All the data analyst aggregates are to ensure the product is the best it can be and to ensure the user experience is optimized to the fullest.
- Data: Data presents the most important tool with which analysts make decisions. To understand where the product currently is and where it needs to go, data must be studied and insights drawn from them. Product analysts do not make decisions on whims or hunches. Every decision must be backed by verifiable data. While these data may not necessarily paint a clear picture, it is a product analyst’s job to decipher them and advise on the next best course.
- User: The end goal of a product analyst is customer satisfaction and optimum user experience. Data is studied to make the product the best it can be to solve the user’s problem. Every decision an analyst makes is made with the user in mind.
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Product Analyst Career Path: Key Responsibilities
In this part of this article, we will discuss the responsibilities of a product analyst. If you’re looking at a career path as a product analyst, here’s what’s going to be expected of you:
Product Monitoring and Analysis
This deals with the data analysis of the product in its current state. Before any changes are recommended, a deep delve has to be made into the current data of the product. This helps the analyst understand if the product is achieving the desired outcome: are the features achieving the desired aims? Are users falling off a particular point? Is the product solving the user’s pain points?
The data from this analysis is then aggregated and this forms the base of an analyst’s job. Almost everything else an analyst does is birthed from the data that is aggregated at this point.
Product monitoring and analysis also go to understand the various facets of the data. While the data may be accurate, it may tell more than one story at a time. A product is almost never a straight path. While some users may be using the product without a hitch, others may be going through difficulties. A product analyst’s job is to make sense of this data and understand why it works for a subset and not for others.
Partake in Product Experiments
Depending on a myriad of reasons, A/B testing experiments may be run to create a better understanding of the audience and the solutions to proffer. A/B test proffers different techniques and the results are studied to understand the ones that provided more positive results to the audience.
Data Analysis, Presentation, and Recommendation
There’s a misconception that product analysts call the shots on product decisions. While they do in some cases, in most, they do not. The data from the product analysis is presented to various stakeholders and is used to answer their questions. The data presented generally drives the decision of whether or not a feature will be added or removed.
No two jobs are the same. This means while the underlying roles may be the same, there are often differences that make one job different from another. After aggregating and presenting data, some product analysts also propose solutions based on the data. While this is true for some jobs, it is not for all.
For other jobs, product analysts do not propose solutions. They simply present and interpret the data collected.
Essential Skills for a Product Analyst
We’ve discussed some of the significant responsibilities of a product analyst. In this section of this article, we’re going to list the most important skills for a product analyst.
After collecting and aggregating the data, the product analysts' next job is to communicate their findings. This can be to the marketing team, the stakeholders, the customer support team, digital strategists, or the product team. The data presented dramatically influences the next direction the product should take.
So, learning to communicate effectively as an analyst is a non-negotiable skill.
Be Business Savvy
As said earlier, a product analyst role involves interacting with stakeholders. And while effective communication is needed for interaction, it is not all a product analyst needs. Being business savvy is a skill that puts you over the top as a product analyst.
Where data falls short, employing your business skills will help you interpret it better. Also, ensuring you have a clear understanding of where the business is headed is also an added advantage as a product analyst. This means understanding the intended audience, the major competitors, and the goal of the business gives you a better understanding of the data presented.
As a product analyst, it is not uncommon for you to be involved in the financials associated with the product. Most times product analysts closely measure the revenue generated and associated with the product and suggest ways to improve them.
Seek the Right Insights
Knowing how, where and the kind of insights to source is an important part of an analyst’s job. Depending on the company, or product, you may need to interact with the customer to get actual insights. While the data provided may offer a framework, interacting with the users will give you firsthand insight into how they feel about the product. This insight can be gotten in various forms, from user analysis, surveys, customer feedback, etc.
A common way for analysts to get these insights is by speaking with focus groups. Interviewing target customers to get insight is an important skill of a product analyst.
While you may have great communication skills and incredible business acumen, you also need the right skills to thrive in this role. While the required skills vary from company to company and product to product, some of the most important skills to have as a product analyst is, a great understanding of statistics to study and present data, SQL, Python, and hands-on experience using spreadsheets.
How to Become a Product Analyst
Like most roles in tech, there’s no clear-cut path to starting a career. To arrive at a destination, you may have to take multiple paths. A product analyst's career path usually begins in two ways:
Education: Getting a bachelor’s in a business or marketing-related field is a starting point for this career path. These studies offer uncanny insight into market research and analytics, and these two skills are non-negotiable for a product analyst.
Skill: Another route to take is the skill route. Receiving hands-on training and experience in most marketing and product roles are great starts before transitioning to business analyst. Stacking up certifications is another great way to make the transition from a marketing or product role to an analyst role easier.
In this article, we’ve listed everything you need to bear in mind to start a career as a product analyst. While companies and roles may offer very few similarities, we’ve listed the key points needed for a product analyst career path.