“Our Analysts had to create visualizations for Adobe data in Tableau for other teams to be able to understand it, because you really have to master Adobe to use it confidently. With Mixpanel, anyone can pick it up and learn about our customer behavior, digging deep into metrics that matter to them, and know that the data is accurate and trustworthy.” - Roopa Gidugu, Sr. Technical Product Manager of Product Data at Ancestry

Ancestry’s flagship product, AncestryDNA, was the best-selling non-Amazon branded product on Cyber Monday for the second year in a row in 2018, reinforcing the great passion that people have for learning more about where they come from. Committed to providing customers with the most meaningful family history records and facts, Ancestry connects the latest science and technology with the largest collection of digitized historical records.

But the discovery doesn’t stop at DNA. “We sell a ton of DNA Kits during the holidays, but it’s important for us to understand how to convert those customers into long-term users by subscribing to our family history service,” said Roopa Gidugu, Sr. Technical Product Manager of Product Data at Ancestry. Ancestry provides subscribers with the tools they need to learn more about their lineage through AI-powered hints that surface records and ancestors. To grow their subscription business, Ancestry needed to understand what was attracting their best customers so that they could find and nurture more like them. Answering these difficult questions meant Roopa and her team needed to reevaluate their behavioral analytics strategy and toolkit.

Why Ancestry Chose Mixpanel

Ancestry was interested in exploring a new analytics tool for multiple reasons. Because Adobe Analytics was hard to use, Product Managers at Ancestry relied heavily on the Product Analytics team to pull insights for them, limiting the speed and depth of their user understanding. Additionally, the team lacked a unified view of user behavior because their mobile and desktop tracking implementations were separated. Ancestry wanted to build processes that would standardize data governance across their tech stack and empower Product Managers to self-serve analytics so that they could better respond to their customers’ interests and behaviors in real-time.

In order to accomplish these goals, Roopa assembled a comprehensive list of requirements for a new tool they would introduce to the Product Management team. Top of mind were security, the ability to connect with Tealium and their data warehouse, ease-of-use, depth of analysis and customer service. After running proof of concepts and surfacing the pitfalls of some analytics tools, Mixpanel was the clear winner, satisfying all of Ancestry’s requirements.

"The thing I am most excited about is for anyone who has access to Mixpanel to quickly and easily build reports. The real value of Mixpanel is its usability because it enables our team to self-serve, which gives everyone the chance to learn more about what drives our customers.” - Roopa Gidugu, Sr. Technical Product Manager of Product Data at Ancestry

Business improvements with Mixpanel

Unifying cross-device customer behavior

Before Mixpanel, Ancestry had Adobe Analytics tracking on desktop, but very limited visibility into their customers’ behavior on mobile. Employees couldn’t track the actions they cared about on mobile, and mobile and desktop behaviors were divided between separate data layers, resulting in employees not trusting the limited mobile data they had. As a result, if a user was learning more about their heritage while on-the-go, Ancestry’s Product team was missing out on these potentially pivotal moments.

Now, Ancestry can instantly analyze the full customer journey and each interaction within it on Mixpanel. If a customer researches the family history subscription on mobile, Ancestry can follow up with an offer on the web. They are using this complete user view to improve engagement and lifetime value by reducing points of drop-off and driving users towards behaviors associated with retention and conversion.

Building data trust

Maintaining a trustworthy and reliable analytics implementation can be tricky, but Mixpanel provided the resources and guidance Ancestry needed to put the right systems and processes in place. Mixpanel’s Lexicon feature allows Product Managers to find information for any event, event property, or user property, so they know how to interpret their data. Plus, Ancestry can categorize events by adding tags, such as “Purchase” or “Mobile”, to help anyone on the team quickly find the event they’re looking for.

Enabling Product Managers to self-serve analytics

With trustworthy data and easy-to-use reports for retention, funnels and flows, seven product teams across Ancestry are being empowered to answer their own questions without needing an analyst’s help. This frees up their analysts’ time to focus on more strategic initiatives, and allows Product Managers to better influence KPI’s, like retention and driving users to purchase a family history subscription. By integrating analytics into the organization’s workflows, everyone can use data to be more strategic.

What’s Next?

The team at Ancestry is excited to learn more about customer behavior through Mixpanel. Their first priorities will be converting holiday AncestryDNA kit purchasers into family history subscribers. Additionally, they plan to focus on improving their “hints” product to deliver the most relevant recommendations on family trees and records to explore. Fine tuning their data science models will help them better satisfy their customers’ interests in learning about their ancestry and genealogy.