User data has become the cornerstone behind driving long-term business growth. Leading companies put a lot of time and effort into collecting and analysing user data to help improve their productivity, effectiveness and ultimately, their bottom line.
Business owners spend a lot of money on setting up multiple feedback channels to collect useful data, such as website analytics, customer feedback reviews and surveys, email lists and more.
There is a lot of talk about the importance of collecting data. However, many businesses will effectively collect and store user data, but will not know how to make the best use of what they have gathered.
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Here we are going to look at how you can collect useful user data as well as how to use it in a positive way that will benefit your business.
Deciding how to collect your data
There are many ways in which a business can collect useful user data. The most popular ways are through conducting customer surveys and interviews, using on-site observations, and usability trials.
Your data collection methods should be an ongoing process that continues to bring in fresh data. This will help you monitor the mood of your users and notice any sudden or gradual change in their needs, desires, dislikes and opinions.
Here are some very effective data collection methods that successful businesses use:
1: User surveys
User surveys are useful research tools that will give you a great baseline of results to start with. Think of posing very basic questions that will help to build a strong foundation to work from.
Your survey questions should appeal to a broad audience so you can draw some basic quantitative data at the beginning of your research. You can then use this raw data as a baseline to drill down further to define and refine your future data collection targets.
Your survey should be structured in an effective way that delivers the results you are looking for. You can use surveys to gather opinions and assumptions on new ideas or concepts you may be planning or to further confirm data already gathered from other sources.
You can distribute your survey to your email newsletter subscribers, via your social media pages, through your website or via a paid survey across many platforms.
2: User interviews
Conducting user interviews will give you a more in-depth look at what your users want. You can also gather more information by conducting a follow-up questionnaire.
Asking your most important questions during your user interviews are going to give you more of the information you need because many people will miss off answering questions in an anonymous survey.
Try reaching out to your existing customers to attract interview candidates. They are more likely to respond and be willing to take part.
3: Usability testing
Usability testing is a research technique where users are set tasks or scenarios to complete. You will be gathering information about how the users go about completing the set tasks and observing what difficulties or issues they run into along the way.
Testing in this way will tell you if the set tasks were completed successfully. It will also tell you if the user went about the task in the way that you expected. This will highlight whether your interpretations or assumptions match with your user’s methods of achieving the set task.
For example, you could perform a usability test on your website where you ask a user to find and buy a specific product or service. Should their path prove not to be as straightforward as you intended, then you can look at fixing the issues that the user experienced.
It could be that your website has lots of flashy attention-grabbing graphics, but lacks a smooth digital strategy to get a user from A to B.
Analysis and synthesis
You need to present your raw data to your team in a presentable and usable way. You can do this by organising the data into user journeys, maps and user personas or customer avatars.
Your user persona or avatar will help you to understand what needs, desires, goals and frustrations your ideal customer experiences.
User journeys describe common situations or tasks and the paths followed by your users to achieve them. You can use these to help design and develop a pleasant, user-friendly customer experience for your target audience.
Leveraging useful information from your collected data
So now you have gathered together a lot of valuable data from your collection activities – how do you use it effectively to help boost your business?
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use your data:
1. Creating a more pleasurable user experience
According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, customers like being appreciated, so by simply asking for their feedback or opinions is enough to keep them coming back for more.
Customers like to be reinforced and coddled, so any positive thoughts they have about your product or service will be amplified when they have their feelings recognised. This will make them even more likely to buy from you.
So you can combine your ongoing data collection activities while making your users feel valued at the same time. You can use your collected data to make sure that you are providing a superior service.
2. Personalise their user experience
Leverage your data to offer personalised offers and recommendations. Targeting your users with offers that are most relevant to them and fulfil their needs will provide you with strong cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
Your unique customer experience is a very important element of your business that you cannot afford to ignore. You can use your user data to highlight where you need to make changes, and even when you need to redevelop your website to become more user-friendly.
When you handle your user data right, you can create a positive dialogue between you and your users that will drive healthy business growth.
3. Listen to negative feedback and implement changes
You will always have a set of very vocal customers giving you feedback. The best way to use this data is to listen, acknowledge their input and make changes where there is a valid reason to do so.
You can use customer feedback data to identify the need for improvement with your product, service, website, branding or user experience.
Don’t forget that your most loyal customers will know your product or service inside out and will have insights that can rival those of your own product or service managers.
Remember that all of your real insight comes from those customers regularly using your product or service. Always remember to go back to your users to tell them you implemented changes as a result of their suggestions.
By demonstrating that you are willing to listen to your customer’s advice, not only will they appreciate this, but they will hold you in higher regard and raise your worth above that of your direct competition.
4: Define your niche
Take your user data and use it to further define your niche and your target audience.
You will be surprised to learn that not 100% of businesses completely understand the demographics they should be focused on.
Using your user data to drill down and create a set of ideal customer avatars or personas will show you exactly where you belong in your niche.
Learn who your most happy customers are, where they come from and where they hang out will give your sales and marketing team much better focus and more realistic targets.
Your user data can be an effective tool to help you measure the effectiveness of your product or service as well as your brand awareness and overall customer experience.
Implementing its use to create user personas, avatars and user journeys will result in better end product delivery and uptake. This will show that your hard work has paid off.