Helping businesses optimize their websites and mobile applications | MIT News

Creating a good customer experience increasingly means creating a good digital experience. But metrics like pageviews and clicks offer limited insight into the extent to which customers actually love a digital product.

This is the problem solved by the digital optimization company Amplitude. Amplitude gives businesses a clearer picture of how users interact with their digital products to help them understand exactly which features to promote or improve.

“It’s about using product data to drive your business,” says Amplitude CEO Spenser Skates ’10, who co-founded the company with Curtis Liu ’10 and University of Jeffrey Wang. Stanford. “Mobile apps and websites are really complex. The average app or website will have thousands of things you can do with it. The question is, how do you know which of these things lead to a great user experience and which parts are really frustrating for users. “

Amplitude’s database can aggregate millions of details about user behavior in an app or website and allow customers to explore that information without the need for data science degrees.

“It provides an interface for very simple and accessible ways to examine your data, understand your data and ask questions about that data,” Skates explains.

Amplitude, which recently announced its IPO, already helps 23 of the 100 largest companies in the United States. Customers include media companies like NBC, tech companies like Twitter, and retail companies like Walmart.

“Our platform helps businesses understand how people use their apps and websites so they can build better versions of their products,” Skates explains. “It’s about creating a really compelling product. “

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The founders say their years at MIT have been some of the best of their lives. Skates and Liu were undergraduates from 2006 to 2010. Skates majored in bioengineering while Liu majored in math, electrical engineering, and computer science. The two first met as opponents during MIT’s Battlecode competition, in which students use artificial intelligence algorithms to control teams of robots that compete against each other in a strategy game against other teams. The following year, they team up.

“There are a lot of parallels between what you try to do in Battlecode and what you need to do when starting a startup,” says Liu. “You have limited resources, limited time, and you are trying to achieve a goal. What we found was trying a lot of different things, pitching our ideas and testing them with real data, which really helped us focus on the things that really mattered. This method of iteration and continuous improvement laid the foundation for our approach to construction products and startups.

Liu and Skates then entered MIT’s $ 100,000 entrepreneurship competition with an idea for a cloud-based music streaming service. After graduation, Skates started working in finance and Liu got a job at Google, but they continued to pursue side-start ideas, including a website for alumni to see where their students were. Classmates met and a market to find photographers.

A year after graduation, the founders decided to quit their jobs and work full time at a startup. Skates moved into Liu’s apartment in San Francisco, setting up a mattress on the floor, and they started working on a project that became Sonalight, a voice recognition app. As part of the project, the founders built an internal system to understand where users got stuck in the app and which features were used the most.

Despite over 100,000 downloads, the founders decided Sonalight was a bit too early for its time and began to think their analytics feature might be of use to other businesses. They spoke to around 30 different product teams to learn more about what companies expect from their digital analytics. Amplitude was officially founded in 2012.

Amplitude brings together precise details about the use of digital products, analyzing individual features and actions to give customers a better overview of how their products are being used. Using data from Amplitude’s intuitive, codeless interface, customers can make strategic decisions like launching a feature or changing distribution channels.

The platform is designed to alleviate the bottlenecks that arise when executives, product teams, salespeople and marketers want to answer questions about customer experience or behavior, but need the help. ‘data science team to calculate the numbers for them.

“It’s a very collaborative interface to encourage customers to work together to understand how users interact with their apps,” Skates explains.

Amplitude’s database also uses machine learning to segment users, predict user outcomes, and uncover new correlations. Earlier this year, the company unveiled a service called Recommend that helps businesses create personalized user experiences across their platform in minutes. The service goes beyond demographics to personalize customer experiences based on what users have done or seen before in the product.

“We are very concerned about the protection of privacy,” says Skates. “Many analytics companies will resell your data to third parties or use it for advertising purposes. We don’t do any of that. We are only here to provide product information to our customers. We don’t use data to track you around the web. Everyone expects Netflix to use data on what you’ve already watched to recommend what to watch next. This is indeed what we are helping other companies to do.

Optimizing digital experiences

The mission of Calm meditation app is to help users develop habits that improve their mental well-being. Using Amplitude, the company learned that people use the app more often to sleep better and reduce stress. The information helped the Calm team double down on content focused on these goals, launching ‘sleep stories’ to help users relax at the end of each day, and adding content on the relief of pain. anxiety and relaxation. Sleep stories are now Calm’s most popular type of content, and Calm has quickly grown to millions of people around the world.

Calm’s story shows the power of letting user behavior drive product decisions. Amplitude has also helped online fundraising site GoFundMe increase donations by showing users more compelling campaigns and exercise bike company Peloton has realized the importance of social features like rankings.

Going forward, the founders believe Amplitude’s platform will continue to help businesses adapt to an increasingly digital world in which users expect more compelling and personalized experiences.

“If you think about the online experience for businesses today compared to 10 years ago, now [digital] is the primary point of contact, whether you are a media company delivering content, a retail company or a finance company, ”Skates explains. “It will only continue. This is where we are trying to help.

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