Digital product developer, don’t forget your current users!
30 Jul 2021 • Strategy & Business Design
Quite often, people working with digital products tend to focus especially on the beginning of the sales funnel, ie customer acquisition and its costs. Thus, a lot of thought is put into attracting new users in the hope of reaching virality, but keeping existing users happy may not get as much attention. However, we know that winning digital products are distinguished from losers by the high retention and low churn rates of users.
Fulfilling and – preferably – exceeding user expectations are also the key to the success of a digital product. Users’ criteria are high and the bar for boredom is correspondingly low. This means that the product must be constantly developed in order to remain interesting and relevant in the eyes of users. New and fascinating features released at regular intervals take the added value experienced by the user to that famous next level. Companies that also manage to implement this introduction of new features in a product-led way have been proven to be able to hold on to their current users more closely than top-down competitors, who often make the mistake of leaving the responsibility of discovering the added value of new features to the user alone.
Win your users’ hearts with data
When a recipe for a new feature is made, the needs of the most important user groups must be taken into account. It’s also necessary to think about how those groups would get more use of the product. However, without verified data, we need to rely on mere guesswork. That’s why it’s a good idea to collect user feedback on an ongoing basis. Based on the data collected from multiple channels, it is also possible to identify the most important pain points of the best users and to create features that eliminate them, so that the users’ journey as paying customers continues. For instance, what conclusions could you make from the typical customer path of the users of your product, their online and mobile behaviour, CRM statistics, reasons for contacting you, and data collected by the marketing team?
Essential to the success of a digital product is that users find and embrace its new features. The product should become an invaluable part of the user’s daily life or, in the case of a B2B user, the value creation of their own customers. A new feature that remains unused may cause at least the following not-so-desirable things:
- Lost time and resources
- The added value of the product doesn’t increase in the eyes of the user
- If the added value doesn’t increase, neither does user retention.
So can’t it be concluded that the new value-adding features that are designed based on customer data will make the virtual bank vault of a product-led company bulge? Not necessarily.
What if the user isn’t aware of these new life-improving features?
It’s quite tricky to adopt something you don’t understand. In order for the new features to give the digital product holder a competitive advantage, the user needs to experience an a-ha moment at the earliest possible stage (time to value). Similarly to enticing new users to try a new product at the beginning of the customer path, the work must be continued with those who already use the product each time new features are released into the product.
How information about a new feature is served is known to have a significant impact on how the user adopts it. Compared to, for example, a manual for a physical product, where all the information about the assembly instructions is between the same covers, the advantage of a digital product is that you can bring out the right information at the right time and in appropriate amounts. This opportunity should not be missed because we all know what usually happens to a physical manual – a real man doesn’t read instructions, and in a year’s time when looking for repair guidance, the manual has already been given a new purpose in the paper life cycle.
The introduction of a new feature should therefore be combined with the moment when it is adding value to the user’s path. Among the means that have been found to be effective are tooltips, in-app messages, and user reminders in the product’s internal notification centre. For larger or more complicated features, one can consider more extensive, step-by-step feature tours. So, will a new unicorn be born if all these things are implemented? Once again – not necessarily.
Sometimes, despite all efforts, new features don’t strike root in users’ daily lives, or only some users feel they bring them added value. To solve this dilemma, one can take advantage of the Flywheel model developed by Hubspot, already mentioned in our previous blogs. The Flywheel helps to reflect on how well users at different stages of the customer path are taken into account. Each release of a new feature is an opportunity to refine your understanding and fine-tune your product to better serve the needs of your users, thereby increasing retention and reducing churn. Measuring the adoption of new features also provides valuable data that serves as a backbone for decision-making about future features to be developed.
Want to learn more about ways to keep a product’s user retention and churn at the desired level? Take a look at this blog where our consultant Tomi Neulanen gives tips on techniques to get the customer back to your digital product over and over again.
Or perhaps we at Sofokus could help in guiding your business into a more product-led direction? Don’t hesitate to contact us!