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Want Better Product Innovation? Here are 10 Customer Activities You Should be Testing Now

When you focus on what matters most to your customers, you focus on what matters most to your bottom line.

Continue to surprise and delight your customers, and they will become your brand champions, your roadmap inspiration, and a valuable source of repeat revenue. What your customers do and why they do it are the most important pieces of information for any product or retention marketing team. With the right combination of data, user insights, and thoughtful leadership, you can zero in on innovation that truly moves your product – and business – forward.

Build Your Roadmap with Analytics and Insights

KISSmetrics provides deep analytics into who your customers are and what they are doing on your website. Here at UserTesting, we find that when this deep data is paired with in-person user research, you can uncover many significant insights.

By watching people use your site, you can hear them explain the logic behind why they chose to click where and when they clicked. It’s incredible how the excitement (or frustration) of a customer attempting to complete a task on your site will motivate you to rethink your team’s roadmap.

By incorporating qualitative feedback with data analysis, you’ll find many ways to improve your customers’ experiences online. To help you get started, I’ve outlined ten different scenarios that could lead to higher engagement, affinity, and ROI.

Ten Customer Activities You Should be User Testing

1. Log In

Take a look at how many times your customers are logging in. Once you have identified your power users, consider how to make their login experience better. Test new login options like social integration, see where customers go to “get in,” and devise ways to optimize messaging on a new login page while you have a captive audience.

Shortstack Login

ShortStack – Seasonal messaging from ShortStack catches people at login, reminding users to think creatively about their next campaign while subtly informing them of the service’s capabilities.

2. Dashboards

Review your usage numbers, and then test to discover what information your customers wish was available. Uncover whether or not they find your dashboard helpful, how often they refer to it, and if it is as customizable as they need in order to complete their tasks.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics – Since there are hundreds of ways to slice and dice data, Google has put considerable effort into allowing users to customize their personal dashboards to fit their at-a-glance needs.

3. Purchase History

If you’re running any kind of SaaS or e-commerce site, dig into your data and identify those who often visit their account details looking for previous purchases. Explore their habits, whether they email or download receipts (or wish to), refer to shipping status, look for purchased product details, or want to repeat the same purchases again.

Harvest Account History

Harvest – For many freelancers and small design studios, Harvest has made it easy to look up recurring payment history, which is especially helpful for folks during tax season crunch time.

4. Account Upgrades

Pull a list of your “toe in the water” customers and then optimize for an upgrade. This is a critical component of the ability to increase revenue. Test ideas for unlocking new features and how to properly position them as benefits. Examine hesitation points and what would compel customers to move forward. Find out what they already love about the product and then look for ways to make it even better with an upgrade.

LinkedIn Upgrade

LinkedIn – Notice how LinkedIn has integrated a live chat feature on their Upgrade page. No doubt they are hoping to help people take the leap into an even more benefit-driven social networking experience.

5. Search

Are your customers spending a lot of time on search results pages? Find out why, because chances are their usage will drop off quickly if they can’t find what they want. They’ll just look for it on someone else’s site.

Udemy Search Results

Udemy – The Udemy search results page has been designed to highlight the most relevant courses on their website, with each course providing enough detail to inform the next click.

6. Onsite Promotion

Just a general rule of thumb: if it looks like an advertisement, it will be ignored! Try upgrade messaging, requests for reviews, cross-promoting user tips and tricks, and community-building promotions to find the right approach for your audience.

Smashing Magazine Promotion

Smashing Magazine – Smashing Magazine seems to have found the right balance between aesthetically pleasing advertising and owned content promotion. Notice their own sidebar promotions are in no way designed to mirror the look of the ads above.

7. Social Sharing

Are your customers helping you generate more leads? Improve word-of-mouth marketing by discovering whether your customers find your product or content story-worthy and easy to share in the way(s) they want to share it.

Dropbox Social Sharing

Dropbox – By incentivizing customers to tell friends about their service, Dropbox has created an incredibly strong brand awareness campaign. The key? They built in a reward that is almost impossible to refuse.

8. Navigation

Information architecture changes can really impact how people use your site, so it’s important to explore any changes thoroughly. Look at how often the “back” button is clicked, how many times visitors revert back to the homepage to “start over,” and how often they use footer links to accomplish their tasks. Ask customers to participate in a card-sorting exercise, and test your prototypes.

Crocs navigation

Crocs – The Crocs web team has a clean navigation, so it’s easy for shoppers to locate their products by type or collection. Bonus points for having a solid mobile site navigation!

9. Content

If you see a large drop off in customer usage, take a look at the content that is available. Consider function, format, and fun factor. If your customers don’t find your content helpful or interesting, chances are good they might start losing interest in your product. Make sure your content resonates with your audience.

Marketo Content

Marketo – With an advanced product like Marketo, it’s critically important that users have plenty of resources in order to make the most of their investment. Marketo’s brightly colored University is packed with content to help users boost their knowledge.

10. Multiple Devices

Ask your mobile-first customers to perform their most common tasks, highlighting their primary use cases. Test ways to ensure these user flows are properly addressed to encourage usage across devices. Run your new (or improved) apps through a set of user tests in a prototype phase to refine your design and usability.

Spotify Devices

Spotify – Spotify has taken their device-specific experiences to new levels by incorporating smart logic tailored for the user. Notice how their mobile website detected that I have their app installed and offers to take me directly to it.


Deep data and user testing should be an integrated toolset for anyone involved in ensuring their website supports the bottom line. Understanding the who, what, and why of your customers means you spend less time guessing and more time turning a good experience into a great one.

About the Author: Stef Miller is a marketer at UserTesting, where she spends most of her time connecting people with content. Miller has worked for global corporations and teeny tiny studios, won awards from AIGA, AAF, and AMA, and believes that true happiness comes from collaborating with creative people to make awesome things happen. You can connect with Stef on Linkedin and Twitter.

  1. I need to get around to do some testing for onsite promotions…but first, I need a product!

    Thank you, Stef!

    Great post with a lot of useful tips :)

  2. Thanks for sharing this info Stef.

  3. Love the advice on checking out their usage of the purchase history, there’s a lot of deep insight to be gleaned from that type of behavior. As someone who works with businesses to bring them more online leads, I’m wondering if we could use that idea to allow customers to check up on the status of their inquiries, and follow their behavior to see if those customers and that becoming more valuable or converting a higher rate.

    • Sean, interesting thought – I think there’s a lot of opportunity to increase transaction quantity or upgrades with people who are already looking at purchase history to get details on what they ordered. Think of it in scenarios: ‘OK, I DID buy that – now, am I using it? Can I use it some more? Do I need to purchase more? Tell my team?’.

  4. Hi Stef! Thanks so much for featuring ShortStack in this article, we really appreciate it! This is a great round-up of tips for businesses.

  5. Fionna Merciollis Jan 30, 2014 at 5:04 am

    I agree with all the points. This is a great blog post. Regarding Social Sharing issue,I want to mention here that not every people Like or Share updates or information. Most of them simply view it and not take any action. So, just considering Sharing aspect will tell you half the story. Therefore, along with Sharing and other aspects, you should also consider the Viewership too, to get the actual picture.

  6. Nice post Stef. I especially like the points about social sharing and multiple devices. Both are more relevant now that ever before. It’s about mobility and accessibility on a variety of channels.

    I recently wrote on what I see as two small changes that have a big impact for product managers – hope you find it interesting. Mark

  7. Thanks for write. Great and very useful for newbie.

  8. Samuel Katamba May 22, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    I think when it comes to multiple devices we also have to think about which device is being used most and why. Which device tends to start customer work and which one ends it. In the whole process of any customer activity which device holds more activity


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