Uncovering Your Most Pivotal Users by Marieke McCloskey and Doug Puett

BY Marieke McCloskey ON DECEMBER 12, 2018

A lot of teams struggle with how to increase engagement. We all want our product to be used more often and by more people, but how do we identify opportunities that will transform how your product is used? UserTesting’s Product Insights proposes digging deeper to understand not simply the most engaged users, but those who’ve found something in your product that transforms the way they think.

In this ProductTank San Francisco talk, Doug Puett, Head of Data Science at UserTesting, and I share how our data science and UX research team worked collaboratively to conduct retention analysis, customer segmentation, and cohort definitions. Together we uncovered a group of users who’ve used UserTesting to democratize research and change their company culture. These are the customers we want to serve and replicate. This research has allowed us to make more informed and confident decisions about our product vision and roadmap.

Increase Your Chances of Success

When you think about increasing engagement you can probably think of many changes you’d make to your product, or features that you’d add. However, we recommend thinking first about the opportunities, not the solution.

Many teams might immediately jump to finding solutions that will help move toward that KPI. The problem with that thinking, however, is that you might miss interesting opportunities that could help improve or even pivot your product. By thinking about opportunities instead — ways to better meet your user’s needs — you’ll uncover unexpected areas for improvements and from there can start to consider potential solutions.

Your customers, especially your engaged users, are already actively using your product and some are probably already giving you feedback about what’s working and what’s not. But talking to them is great to dig in and find out specifically why they are using your product the way they are. On the other side, talking to non-engaged users is also beneficial, if you can manage it, but they’re naturally a bit harder to reach since they’re not using your product. These non-engaged users can provide insight into what’s missing in your product.

However, we recommend going one step further and learning more about a specific group of users in the engaged group.

Find Unexpectedly Successful Customers

In addition to looking at users who use your product exactly as intended, there’s an opportunity to uncover interesting insights by going beyond the first level of what your customer data tells you. For example, with one of our projects we noticed a trend: the more videos that customers watched, the higher the rate of renewals. And when we dug a little deeper, we realized that we had users who were behaving in ways we weren’t expecting.

Enter UX research. When you can’t take your data any further, this is when human insights can help uncover the why behind the numbers. By talking to customer-facing teams internally and customers directly we learned that this group of customers are the ones who’ve democratized UX research at their companies; many people conduct and share research insights.

This is something that we value as an organization, but that pattern of use wasn’t obvious through basic usability studies. We needed to combine the insights from our data and probe further with additional generative research and customer interviews.

As a result, we uncovered a completely new opportunity based on the success of these pivotal users. By learning how these users do their work we’ve gained several new product ideas to help our less engaged customers achieve the same success.

Pair Data with Human Insight to Uncover Opportunities

Once you’ve uncovered all the valuable insights you can gain with this approach, you’ll increase your chances of having a big impact on engagement by identifying new opportunities. Think of it this way, you’re helping all your users to benefit from the success of your most pivotal users.

Marieke McCloskey

About

Marieke McCloskey

Marieke is the founder and leader of UserTesting’s Product Insights Team, overseeing the company’s Data Science and UX Research efforts. She has spent over 10 years helping companies grow through human-centered design. Formerly a consultant at Nielsen Norman Group, she’s trained thousands of professionals on the value of gaining a deep customer understanding.

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