What’s Wrong with Spotify’s Analytics Emails (a Design/UI/UX Audit)

Today, I'm sharing my impressions of one of Spotify's analytics touchpoints—a monthly email I receive with a boatload of design choices I mostly hope you will not copy, especially if you're working in an enterprise capacity. Most of you by now probably know I have another career as a professional musician, and that includes having three recordings I own on Spotify to which these analytics refer.

Now, I actually don't really personally care about this data, but we will put that aside for now, and I will put my advisory hat on and give you my take. First, a picture of the email's design:




Let's dig in with my quick UI/UX audit:

  • Poor copywriting gets in the way: ​Apparently my September was "great and full of high notes." Except that they display this copywriting every month, I think. or don't they? This is probably cute copywriting getting in the way of signal, but I cannot tell.
  • Drawing conclusions: ...I do like the idea of a loud conclusion stated up front (the white text) and this is in line with my C-E-D UX framework for analytics products which says that if there is an important conclusion (C) to call out explicitly, DO it. Don't lead with the evidence (E) and make the conclusion implicit.
  • Nothing to compare: This is big one: apparently I had 12.6k listeners last month. Don't copy this design!
    • I see a lot of analytics apps and tools that seem to try to copy the "giant typography, tons of white space" model of dashboards. Most of them are simply devoid of signal and are information wastelands. 12.6k...as compared to what!? With no other stat to compare 12.6k to, this really means nothing to the artist or label receiving this.
    • The timeframe of these (monthly) also means the chances of me "remembering" my "normal" listener count is low. This is another reason why this number ALONE is not helpful. You need to be aware of the current state of the customer at the time they are receiving the information and ask, "will they likely know without going anywhere else if this is good/bad high/low meaningful?"
    • What they should have done? Provide a trend or some relative comparisons that the artist or label owner cares about. Or compare to "new listeners" since the previous month. There are many options, and the answer starts with 1:1 customer research.
  • Vague KPIs?: What exactly is a listener? Now, the answer to is not always necessary to define in an email like this, which gets back to knowing the current information your customers have and need. However, there may be times in your context where a reminder footnote could be useful. What is included in that count? What is excluded? And especially important is to call out those inclusions/exclusions when customers might assume incorrectly. In this case, "listener" could have many meanings to me as an artist. Does this include playlist plays where there was no active choice to listen to my group? Is there a minimum duration of time they have to commit to listening before a listener count is recorded? How does this compare to "fans" who are "following" the artist?
  • The use of email notifications: I will say this once: email (and broadly, notifications) may be one of the most powerful tools you are not currently using or using to its full extent. It is fantastic Spotify is pushing content to me, but the problem is how they are doing it in this cae. The key is to push relevant insight at the right time, with the right amount of information to help your customer make a decision or takeaway. A good example of how Spotify might have different emails (and maybe they do now) is that if they recognized that my catalog had a new record in it, they may increase the frequency of emails in the near-term, do album-to-album comparisons over the same time period, and through empathy culled via UX research, understand that my mindset as an artist and label owner during the post-launch phase of a recording is different.

I hope this was helpful. If you found this useful, I sometimes conduct live audits on Crowdcast with the founders and product owners of analytics applications. To get notified, join my mailing list and then follow me on Crowdcast.

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