Running a website, selling a product, building a business – it’s all about incremental improvements based on user feedback. But what if your users aren’t sure what they want? Or what if they tell you one thing, but act in a different way?
The key is user data: With the right data, you can find out what your users really think and how to make your site, product or business better.
To help, I polled a group of entrepreneurs from YEC with the following question:
What is your favorite tool for understanding what users really think of your website and improving it incrementally?
Often what users say they like and how they actually use your website are polar opposites. We rely heavily on deep integration with Mixpanel analytics to know exactly how our website is (and isn’t) being used, and then we can take actionable steps to improve anything that isn’t delighting our users. The best part is that we can instantly see when changes are and aren’t working. – James Simpson, GoldFire Studios
2. Asking our customers
My favorite way for understanding our user and receiving feedback for our site is just getting on the phone and checking in. For example, we just launched a new software product at EVENTup and I have set a goal to call 10 accounts a day to check in. Instead of sending out emails explaining what the venue owners can do, each team member must call each of their accounts and offer to demo the new software. Although it may sound simple, that doesn’t make it easy. – Jayna Cooke, EVENTup
3. Opinion Lab
With Opinion Lab, website users can provide feedback and other insights that are critical to the success of your business. You will get a comprehensive perspective on what customers are saying and feeling in relation to everything that your brand touches. This is highly valuable data that can help you make the necessary improvements. – Peter Daisyme, Invoicing
We use SnapEngage live chat on our site, and it’s very helpful for converting customers down the funnel. What it’s surprisingly more helpful for is understanding usability issues, e.g. “I’m on your product page but can’t find X.” Because it keeps a log of all the live chat, our Product Managers can go and read all the transcripts to understand what pages people are having issues, and what issues they’re having. – Fan Bi, Blank Label
5. Exit Survey and Google Analytics
Our website uses an exit survey tool, giving our customers the opportunity to tell us what’s on their minds. The problem is, sometimes what customers say they want and what they actually want are different things. We supplement our exit surveys by studying results from Google Analytics. There, we learn how people navigate on our site, how they use it, how long they stay on a page, and what they click on. We then make changes and customize our site based on what’s already popular or where we’d like to draw more interaction. – Vladimir Gendelman, Company Folders, Inc
In running a digital agency, getting user feedback on your work is vital. UserTesting.com allows us to set up tasks for a user in our target audience to achieve, and then view videos of them attempting to accomplish those tasks. Three to five user tests allows you to get true insight into where users are getting stuck, and what aspects of your site need to be improved. Continuously performing these user tests alongside analytics and optimization tools such as Google Analytics, CrazyEgg and Optimizely will turn your website into a well-oiled conversion machine. – Anshey Bhatia, Verbal+Visual
We use inspectlet to capture videos of users on our site and how they’re engaging. It’s incredibly simple to use, and unlocks major insights when you filter to users on mobile, desktop and certain browsers, and how they navigate. Sometimes a user doesn’t need to say anything if you simply watch their behavior. Whenever we launch new pages or features, we immediately open inspectlet to understand how people are using them, and where they’re getting stuck. – Ben Jabbawy, Privy
Click Tale is an excellent complement to UserTesting.com. Click Tale allows us to see actual guests on our website, how they interact, what pages they visit and where they exit. Then we can fix any conversion bottlenecks. We love User Testing because the person talks through using our website. But these visitors are primed beforehand and not our ideal clients. That’s why we like the combination. – Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority
Use a tool like Crazyegg to collect exactly how users are using your website, then use that data to create different website hypothesis based on your goals. When it comes time to test those goals (say, improving conversion rate optimization), I’m a big fan of Optimizely. It allows me to create A/B tests quickly and easily without needing a ton of technical skill. You can set your goals right there on the “experiment” and start it. As data rolls in, you can shift your traffic allocation accordingly for maximum results. – Wesley Mathews, High Level Marketing
10. Google Analytics
Google analytics let you customize your dashboard so that you see the most important data first. You can also find out which online campaigns are performing well and bringing in the most traffic and conversions. The location tool, which you can find under your Visitors menu, allows you to see where your visitors are located. – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
Crazyegg is a tool that uses heatmaps and scroll reports to show you where customers are clicking or hovering their mouse. At AquaMobile, this has given us great insights into what our customers think are the most valuable pages. This enables us to focus more time into making those pages great with content that is most likely to turn leads into customers. It also shows us how far down people are willing to scroll, so that we can put our most important content above that point. – Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile Swim School
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.
Read next: Can data save our democracy?