While quantitative analysis is great, don’t dismiss the value of qualitative research and how it can help you understand your customers and differentiate your business.
What do successful companies like Charles Schwab, MailChimp and Indiegogo have in common? They put significant time and money toward crafting the experiences both potential and current customers have. This level of commitment helps these companies stand out among peers and builds loyal customers. How do you start doing the same? You start by doing user experience (UX) research to understand the experience people are currently having with your business.
“Qualitative research doesn’t get enough credit,” said Aga Bojko, the director of UX for Indiegogo, the popular global crowdfunding platform. “I love quantitative research too, but dismissing qualitative work as ‘unscientific’ is naïve. For example, an ethnographic study with just a few participants can provide the depth and richness of information you’d never be able to achieve with a high sample size survey.”
The author of a highly regarded book on eye tracking with more than 15 years of industry experience, Bojko joined Indiegogo a little more than two years ago in part because she was attracted by the core values it espouses: “fearlessness,” “authenticity,” “cooperation,” and “empowerment.”
In the San Francisco-based company of approximately 130 employees, Bojko works on a team of 13 UX professionals, four of whom focus solely on research. All researchers work very closely with Indiegogo’s designers, product managers, and marketing specialists. In fact, in an effort to optimize communication with the customers, earlier this year the marketing team asked Bojko and her team to revisit the company’s personas.
Indiegogo must attract and satisfy two primary target audiences:
“Campaigners,” or those who try to raise money using the platform and
“Backers,” or those who support campaigners.
So to better understand campaigners, for example, Bojko’s team conducted more than 30 interviews with customers who recently tried to raise money for anything from creating a coloring book or a web series to developing drones or smart thermometers.
Bojko’s team then used the data to revamp Indiegogo’s existing set of personas to more accurately reflect the motivations of the users that Indiegogo currently attracts. That’s how the “Journey-to-Market Morgan” and “Self-Discovery Skylar” campaigner personas emerged. Both the UX and marketing teams realized that messaging in the past had been skewed toward Morgan, who is focused on scaling and getting their product or creation to market. Moving forward, communication should also resonate with the group represented by Skylar, who is on a personal journey and wants to validate his/her skills via community support.
Now the marketing team is more mindful when, for example, they are preparing emails to customers, considering the perspectives of both Morgan and Skylar. For example, if an email is intended to include campaigners like Skylar, the team considers: Is he/she going to be put off by phrases such as “product distribution” or “manufacturing at scale?”
But beyond updating personas, the research Bojko’s team has conducted in the last two years recently led to a major change for Indiegogo. The critical insight uncovered by research was that getting funding was only part of the challenge for creators and entrepreneurs. Many of them were unprepared for what was to come next once they successfully raised money. Campaigners would often struggle with manufacturing and distributing their products, according to Bojko.
So starting in 2015, Indiegogo began shifting its business model to include extra post-campaign support. In 2016, Indiegogo updated its mission from “democratize access to funding” to “empower people to unite around ideas that matter to them and together make those ideas come to life.”
Messaging on Indiegogo’s website reflects its new mission with statements such as: “We help at every step from concept to market.”
Indiegogo customers now benefit from its partnerships with companies such as Arrow Electronics, Brookstone, and Newegg. For example, the wildly successful $3.4 million campaign for cat ear headphones with LED lights has since become a best-selling item for Brookstone.
“Our focus on user experience has helped us differentiate ourselves in the current market, and listening to our customers has literally transformed our business model,” said Bojko. As of March 2017, Indiegogo’s biggest rival hadn’t started offering similar support—a fact Indiegogo proudly touts on its website.
What Indiegogo does isn’t inexpensive. Sometimes organizations want to eliminate research from their budgets as they claim, “We know our audience!” That’s very likely to point you in the wrong direction, working off of outdated or just plain wrong assumptions.
You can guess, or you can research. It’s essential to take the time to research before taking actions such as developing new services or redesigning a website. UX helps leaders avoid costly mistakes and stand out to stay ahead of the competition.
– Julie C. Lellis, PhD, and Melissa Eggleston are the authors of The Zombie Business Cure published by Career Press (CLICK HERE to get your copy). Visit www.zombiebusinesscure.com for more information.
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