Jacob de Lichtenberg is Consumer Product Manager at Trustpilot, the online review community.
As the subject of this week's 'Day in the Life', Jacob gives us an insight into the process of taking user data, analysing it and improving the product offering.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
I’m our consumer product manager here at Trustpilot and it’s my job to set the strategic direction for our users' review experiences.
I often say my job is a cross between a scout and a stockbroker. A stockbroker, because I spend a vast amount of time analysing data, looking at charts go up and down, reading the signs and interpreting the behaviour and movement of the users engaging with the Trustpilot site. A scout, because I set the direction for a team of developers whilst interfacing with the rest of the business, be that brand, marketing or senior management to figure out where we should go.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
I report directly to our VP of Product, Lars Grønnegaard Hansen and I’m part of the technology team based in Copenhagen.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
My role requires a diverse skillset, the single most important being complex decision making. We track a wide range of data metrics but it’s my responsibility to interpret those signals with the team and take decisions in the best interests of our community and the business as a whole. As such I need advanced data skills and deep user understanding combined with personal interaction skills to build relationships with stakeholders.
An example would be a development that increases conversion by 5% in one area, but negatively impacts three other KPIs. Should we move forward, or not? What’s in the best interests of our user segments? This is the type of decision I’m faced with on a daily basis.
Jacob de Lichtenberg, Consumer Product Manager at Trustpilot
Tell us about a typical working day…
Our team practices an agile and Kanban approach so we have a daily stand-up team meeting which we try to keep very focused.
I reserve at least an hour to interpret the latest data we have available. Often this will set the agenda for much of the rest of the day.
Most days I’ll also be part of user interviews which is one of the most valuable data sources we have available. I’m interested in their behaviour, experience and how we can refine it further.
Around a third of my time is spent engaging the team and stakeholders from across the company.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
I love building and creating. For me, being able to see a new development pass from the initial observations in user behaviour data, through development and into the hands of our community is hugely gratifying.
Well, we’re hugely user-centric in my team and we’re relentlessly focused on improving the way people leave and engage with Trustpilot reviews. Sometimes though there are constraints for one reason or another and that can be a little disappointing.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Our overall philosophy is one of experimentation, testing and learning quickly. Right now we’re experimenting with a ‘leave a review’ button vs some empty Trustpilot stars as a means of soliciting reviews. Our site always has several experiences running in parallel offering the data we need to move forward with users in mind.
There are three everpresent KPIs for me:
- Are we encouraging people to leave more reviews? Are we making sure people get the best experience is all about making sure it’s easy to write a review. For example, by changing just one field in a form we saw an increase in monthly reviews of over 80,000 each month.
- Are we driving more visitors to the Trustpilot site to engage with reviews? This typically relates to SEO, driving visitors and exposing our brand.
- Are we delivering a better experience when people are on the site? This is about making sure people get the most from our reviews. Delivering an easy to understand overview of dealings with a particular company and allowing easy drill down into specific reviews is key.
The Trustpilot website
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
At Trustpilot we’re really fond of the Google tools available. We use a range including Google Data Studio which is both a database and a data visualization tool for SEO data. We also use Google Search Console to understand how many people are visiting the site from Google.
Another favoured tool is Amplitude, a powerful data analytics system we use to track and analyse our own data generated from the the Trustpilot site, for example user behaviour data.
Finally we use Hotjar for user surveys, heatmaps and generating user feedback.
How did you get started in product management, and where might you go from here?
I have an unusual background. I’m an engineering graduate but I also hold a degree in business psychology, which has proved unexpectedly helpful in my role. For example, we realised that if we asked consumers to leave their order ID after they’ve completed a review we see a 7% increase in review conversion. The theory behind this is psychological and called ‘sunk cost fallacy’- when someone is already invested in a process they’re much more likely to see it through by locating the Order ID.
Which brands do you think are doing user-generated content well?
No surprises here, I’d have to say Facebook and Google. Facebook are the best around at creating a community and encouraging people to share everyday thoughts and emotions based on the value of that community.
Google are masters of delivering context dependent content. For example, Google has a community dedicated to translating language and text. They’re also second to none when it comes to gathering and then presenting data.
Do you have any advice for people who want to work in product management?
You have to realise that an experimental approach is the key to delivering a product people actually value. Without experimenting, testing and learning rapidly - based on what the data tells you, you’ve no chance of being the site, app or system that users choose to engage with.