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Doing user research to improve your product-led experience

Great in-product experiences are the result of user-centric thinking. In this playbook, we’ll discuss the tactics you can implement to query your users and uncover additional ways to provide value.

What you’ll learn: 

  • How to understand user behavior and interaction with your product.
  • How to gain insights into your users’ needs, desires, and pain points.
  • Ways to get feedback on your product and areas you can improve or innovate.

What you’ll need: 

  • Access to a CRM or user contact info.
  • Tools for conducting user research (e.g., a survey tool or a communication tool to do 1-on-1 user interviews).

What is user research?

User research is a process for surfacing data around user behavior and actions in a product. The goal of user research? To create data that can be leveraged to improve product design and user experience.

User research methods vary, but are often qualitative, ranging anywhere from surveys to user interviews. Product companies use different types of user research to test hypotheses around UX, or user experience. They can then use those findings to implement valuable UX improvements in product. 

Why is user research worth collecting?

Users often encounter problems in your product-led experience that aren’t immediately obvious to your team. These problems can hinder users from moving through the Product-Led Growth Flywheel, ultimately limiting your company’s growth. 

7 steps for improving your product-led experience with user research:

You can download our User Research Worksheet to help you apply the five user research steps below to your business.

Step 1: Determine your goals.

  • Clearly define your objectives for the user research. These may include learning specific aspects about your user behavior, understanding how this research will assist your overall company objectives, or identifying how the user research will guide your team's decisions and actions.
  • Ensure you have a clear understanding of what you wish to achieve to avoid gathering unproductive data.
  • If applicable, write down your hypothesis and what you’re hoping to learn from this user research project.

Step 2: Choose your user research method.

  • Decide between two primary research approaches: surveys or one-on-one interviews.
  • Surveys are best suited for larger customer bases (500 or more), as they provide broad insights quickly. But these can lack detailed, humanized descriptions.
  • One-on-one user interviews provide deeper and more nuanced data, allowing you to understand verbal cues, emotions, and even body language (in video calls). They are ideal for smaller user pools or when resources for research are limited.
  • User interviews give you the “why?” behind user actions.

Step 3: Identify Your User Groups

  • Select the user categories for your research. These can include new users, churned customers, shoppers (people actively evaluating your product), best-fit customers, and inactive customers.
  • The type of users you select should align with your research goals and the segment of the Product-Led Growth Flywheel you wish to improve.
  • For example: if you aim to refine your activation and onboarding experience, you would want to talk to new and churned users who didn’t complete your onboarding.

Step 4: Prepare your questions.

  • Develop a list of structured questions for your user research. These can range from understanding what users like most about your product, to the challenges they've encountered and suggestions for improvement.
  • Need some inspiration? Our User Research Questions Template provides additional examples of potential questions.

Step 5: Do the research.

  • If you're running surveys, send your survey to the selected user groups.
  • If you're conducting user interviews, proceed accordingly. Use a recording tool like Gong or Grain to help you focus fully on the conversation. 
  • If such tools aren't available, consider recruiting a colleague to help take notes for you. 

Step 6: Review the results.

  • Analyze the data collected from your users, looking for patterns and trends to guide your product improvements.
  • Seek insights around any blockers in your product experience, as well as user motivations, perceived and experienced value, and alternative solutions considered.
  • Use our User Research Data Sheet to gather and categorize the insights from your user research.
Appcues User Research Data Sheet
  • Based on the feedback, identify areas for improvement or innovation. Develop an action plan to implement changes. Keep track of how these changes impact user experience and product performance over time.

Step 7: Share the results.

  • Summarize your key findings in a document.
  • Include verbatim quotes from interviews or notable comments from surveys to provide a more vivid account of user sentiment.
  • Outline next steps for your team, connecting your learnings directly to actionable measures for improving your product-led experience.
  • Share this information with your team to keep stakeholders aligned and informed about user perspectives—something that should contribute to more user-centric decision-making moving forward.

Looking for more Playbooks? Go back to the Product-Led Growth Flywheel →