Because it incorporates so many discrete elements, user experience (UX) research is a complicated endeavor. Yet even if you have dedicated UX resources in your organization, you can leverage a community for a better, more holistic understanding of customer needs.
UX research formalizes the process of investigating how users engage with a product. As research firm Nielsen Norman Group puts it, good UX requires “a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.”
That’s a lot to consider. Because UX is so comprehensive, optimizing it should be a focus in all areas of your company. This is why a community—which unifies the customer experience across multiple digital channels—makes an ideal UX research platform for B2B brands.
So what can you do with a community to supercharge your UX efforts?
Attract your most engaged customers
With enough traffic and the right activation strategies, engaged customers will gravitate to an online community.
At inSided, we work closely with new customers to drive traffic and maximize user signups. Our approach is reflected in this chart, which shows what happened to one telco’s traffic a few months after they migrated to the inSided platform. (The green line is the migration date.)
Meanwhile, mature customer communities (those that are at least 2 years old) typically host upwards of 20 “super users”. These customers are so enthusiastic about a brand that they go out of their way to help make the community a success.
Why are engaged customers so valuable? They’re the ones who will be most willing to offer feedback on your user experience. And because they are already familiar with your brand, they tend to have great ideas about how you can improve.
Encourage diverse viewpoints
People’s specific motives for visiting a community will differ: Most often, community users have a product question, want to provide feedback to a brand, or are interested to meet others who share their interests.
With so many reasons to visit, communities themselves are typically very diverse. In addition, it’s not uncommon for 75% or more of community traffic to originate from organic search.
Why is this? Most web searches are in-the-moment questions, like “iPhone hidden features” or “best cable package New York City”. Because community content is both recent and user-generated, it will generally show up high on search engine results pages.
And a community not only boosts SEO—it also drives people to visit your site who would otherwise not be familiar with you. That makes communities an ideal UX research sounding board: You’ll get input from many different people with a wide range of wants and needs.
Communities allow for easy, scalable research
Yet another advantage of communities as research portals is their size. The Sonos community, for example, has more than 300,000 members. That’s probably a bit bigger than the cohort in your current UX research efforts.
Other, more specialized communities—like the beta community Sonos uses for product testing—can be much smaller. Still, for collecting insights at scale, communities are ideal.
Not only can you poll many people at once about their experiences, you can also engage in 1-to-1 (or 1-to-many) conversations with those people. Communities are designed first and foremost to encourage conversation, and for complicated UX-related discussions, their threaded format makes it easy to monitor what’s being said.
Want to follow up on a community conversation? You can send private messages to users, or leverage inSided’s SFDC integration to book a customer’s comments to their profile in your CRM.
By Martijn Terpstra
VP Business Development at inSided. Originally from Amsterdam but moved to New York at the end of 2016 to launch our US operations. Connect on Linkedin