3 User Research Methods Businesses Often Ignore
by Hans Lambert Pedersen| Knowledge
If you want to become your users’ best friend, try using these alternative user research methods to gather valuable insights.
At Stoked, one of the basic principles we follow during the digital product design process is to understand the needs of our customers. Of course, this is much easier said than done. Most often, customer feedback isn’t 100% true and user involvement isn’t always ideal.
Instead, sometimes it pays to think beyond conventional user research methods, such as surveys or interviews. Here are a few alternatives to help you collect the information you need to better understand how users experience your digital product and unearth new innovative market opportunities to develop it further.
User research method #1
Social media is your friend. It can help you gain insights without directly involving your users. Social listening is when you look for people who mention your brand, product, competitors or other keywords that relate to your business on various social media channels.
The information you gather will allow you to uncover the current "mood" behind these posts which can help you understand what people are actually thinking and feeling about your product or your competitors. Your analysis can also give you clues as to how you should handle your day-to-day tasks, customer engagement and digital product development.
So, where should you listen?
Well, for broader searches across the web, Google Alerts can send you an email alert every time someone mentions a word or phrase you want to monitor. The only drawback is that you have to do your own analysis of the data.
Mention is another social listening tool that provides real-time monitoring. In addition, you can receive reports that evaluate the data you've gathered – including sentiment analysis.
Awario has similar features to Google Alerts and Mention. However, it also allows you to find out who mentions your product the most, as well as identifying who the "influencers" in your market/industry are. You can then use this data to gather unbiased user research on what they or their thousands of followers are saying about your product or service. This tool helps you find people who are looking for a product like yours as well.
User research method #2
Another way you can get to know your users’ needs and gather priceless user research is by interviewing the sales and support teams of your company. These people know your digital product very well and understand what your customers are looking for.
For example, the people in customer service often know what functions or features customers want. They’re also the ones who are the first to be aware of any errors because they receive direct messages from the customers.
In the same way, members of your sales team hear what current and potential customers are looking for, plus what they like and dislike about the digital product. Data gathered from the collective knowledge of stakeholders can be easily verified by comparing them with results gained from other methods.
Conducting stakeholder interviews are easy. However, you just need to make sure that you’ve clearly identified and defined the goal of the interviews – i.e. what information you’re trying to get and the people you need to interview.
User research method #3
Perform competitive analysis
Walt Disney once said, "I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn't know how to get along without it."
Without competition, Disney probably wouldn't have been driven to constantly innovate and deliver better products and movies for its customers. So, don’t be afraid of drawing inspiration and motivation from your biggest competitors.
As a user research method, competitor analysis can give you an insight into what really matters to your shared target audience. To acquire the data, you can interview the users of your competitor's digital product or test the product's usability. You can even use social listening again.
For more in-depth data, you can also look at businesses that have similar customer processes. For example, if you’re analysing the online check-in process of hotels, you can take a look at airlines that offer the same service because the processes are similar.
At the end of the day, unmet user needs are windows of opportunities which can help you make an impact in overcrowded markets. If you can meet those needs via the UX and UI of your digital product, you can gain a competitive advantage.
When you uncover these needs through smarter user research methods, you'll also be able to create better solutions that’ll place you at the forefront of your customers’ minds. In the long-term, this will enable you to form longer-lasting customer relationships and develop a successful digital-led business.
Need help conducting any of these user research methods or developing your digital product? Get in touch with our team today.