Apr 05

How to learn from User Data

There are many stops along a users journey with your product at which they will inevitably interact with your company. As detailed in a previous post, every interaction with people interested in your product, potential users, or existing customers and users will create some kind of user-related data. This data can and should be used to improve your product’s UX and in turn generate more revenue.

Dealing with Raw Data

Companies tend to already have a big amount of user data at hand which has been collected and generated by various departments and projects. When it comes to using this data for the company’s purposes however, they often lack adequate strategies that help them use said data. Raw data that is stored somewhere within the company doesn’t add any value when it comes to leveraging user-related data and the resulting insights to improve strategies and inform important decisions. If you want to gain deep insights from your data you’ll have to process your raw data first to make it accessible, understandable and useful.

Assuming you want to use data to find out more about your target group or enrichen existing personas, your first step would be filtering it for relevant characteristics and adding the pieces of information you uncovered to existing user profiles. That way you’ll be able to segment your user base into relevant segments with different characteristics and needs. Every department that addresses users or customers should have access to the same information as a base for their actions and decisions. That way teams can decide on one communication style and hopefully represent the company in a uniform way. To achieve this you’ll need to communicate your findings and user personas in a unified way across multiple teams.

User-related data is produced at different touch-points.

Robust user profiles will also help you and/or your company’s marketing department to target potential users more individually. If you manage to enrichen your user profiles with the appropriate amount of detail you’ll better understand users’ wishes, pain-points, and needs. The more complete your personas, the easier it will become to personalize campaigns and generally the way you communicate with users.

Gathering User-Related Data

As mentioned above, user-related data can be gathered at (almost) every touch-point of interaction between users and your product or company. When gathering data you can start with interactions with your website, users’ browsing behavior, emails/newsletters and their open-rates, contact or support forms that were filled, mobile interactions… By sorting the data you gathered into the corresponding profiles, you can get holistic profiles which will help you to exactly figure out who your users are, what they are looking for and how they decide for or against buying a product.

Keep in mind to always respect users’ privacy when you’re gathering personal data (more on data governance here). Generally, try to use your knowledge responsibly. For example, use provided email addresses to send content that is relevant to users and don’t email them too often. Generally, don’t abuse your knowledge or insert yourself into users’ lives too often. At the same time consider the fact that while you should, of course, disclose at which touchpoints you gather what kind of data, you might not always want to remind users of exactly how much you know about you customers.

How to use your Data

If you use it to its full potential, data can give you the basis for market analyses, the discovery of cost-saving potentials, product design and development, and effective marketing. User profiles backed by data will show marketers where they need to put their focus to save time and costs while gaining higher returns. Personas come in especially handy when it comes to campaign messaging, deciding which campaigns to quit or continue, and the creation of customer-specific content.

When you’re trying to gather all user data that exists within your company start with gathering data from all of the departments that interact with users and customers. These include customer service, sales, and the marketing department. Try to find a process that allows every department to store their data in one collaborative place as data that is stored in disconnected, separate systems can’t be used by everybody to make informed decisions. Using one repository store and archive data will give everybody access to the data they need and prevent silos.

Personalizing the User Journey

Great user experience and customer-centricity can in part be achieved through personalization and give your product a competitive edge. You can start working on your personalization with things as simple as including users’ first names in your marketing emails. The next step is to look past simple characteristics like users’ names and ages and use the behavioral data that’s available. Behavioral data doesn’t use people’s demographic background to make assumptions about their behavior. Instead, it uses actual user behavior which makes it especially useful. While demographic information can give you important clues about your users, you’re most likely more interested in the question “why do they behave in the way they do?”.

Behavioral data can be used to personalize the user journey.

User journeys can get complex very quickly as the path from the first interaction with your users to their goal usually involves a number of touch-points across multiple channels. Designing a “one-size-fits-all” journey for your whole user-base will result in most of your users actively searching for the information they need. At the same time, this general journey for all users will always include touch-points or information that is simply not relevant to the individual user. As a result, reaching their individual goal becomes more complicated for every single user. This is why adapting your communication and user journey to users’ individual needs is a good idea.

There are multiple ways to personalize a user journey:

  • Personalizing the communication: as suggested above address customers with their name and maybe even refer to past interactions
  • Individual offers: try offering your users products that are complementary to products they already use, products that were bought by other users with a similar profile or similar products. This can build brand loyalty as it’s often considered a valuable service
  • Providing information: providing users with personalized information can be especially helpful if you run an online shop. Remind customers of items left in the shopping cart or offer them special deals or fitting coupons

Improved acquisition and increased retention

Unified user profiles can help you save cost and time during the user acquisition process. If you compare potential users with the profiles of existing users and try to target the ones who share traits with existing users, you will most likely get a much higher retention rate. People who share interests, needs and characteristics with your high-value users are more likely to convert since they will follow a similar user journey path.

Customer retention can be increased using behavioral data and information you can gather from the customer support department. start with identifying the point at which users stop using your product or bounce off your website and figure out the reason behind these actions. Usually, users who face a certain problem with a product or website won’t’ even make a direct complaint to your support teams and instead just leave. This is the reason why you can’t just look at support requests but have to consider behavioral data as well. Try to fix problems without users’ complaints if you want to stop potential customers from leaving.

Final thoughts on users’ privacy

As mentioned above: always make it obvious to users that they are being tracked and you’re recording data to analyze it and use it to improve marketing as well as your product. Don’t forget to point out your privacy policy as well as terms and conditions and always adhere to the Data Protection Act. Finally, refrain from using the available data for anything other than you specified or you risk losing users as well as being sued.

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About The Author

Anne is interested in all topics around user research, user testing, as well as usability and UX.

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