How we carry out user research for SaaS companies

Martini

Head of Growth & CEO

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30% increase in qualified leads, 12% improvement in contact form conversion, reduced bounce rate, and increased time spent – that is how much impact our user research methods had on our HR SaaS client, Metta Space.

The SaaS landscape is littered with casualties. Over 90% of startups fail, with only a sliver managing to cross the 10-year mark and achieve profitability. This brutal reality shouldn’t deter you, but it should serve as a stark reminder: building a successful SaaS requires a deep understanding of your users. 

Here’s where user research for SaaS companies becomes your secret weapon.  Think of it as a data-driven conversation with your ideal customer.  Through user research, you unravel their pain points, understand their priorities, and ultimately, build a product that solves their real problems. 

Neglect user research, and you risk building a product in an echo chamber. Features become assumptions, user experience suffers, and churn becomes your unwelcome companion. 

But here’s the good news: we can change that narrative.  This guide will equip you, the seasoned SaaS founder, product manager, or growth marketer, with a powerful user research framework and actionable methods.

More importantly, we’ll showcase a our case study – how we increased lead conversions by 30% for Metta Space, an intelligent misconduct management system  – to illustrate how user research transformed their website, lead generation, and overall success.

Our trusted framework for user research for SaaS companies

User research isn’t a one-time activity. It’s an ongoing process that fuels constant iteration and ensures your SaaS remains relevant and valuable to your users.

As we established, user research is the cornerstone of building successful SaaS products. But how do you actually put it into action?  Here, we unveil a practical framework to guide your user research efforts throughout the entire SaaS product lifecycle:

  1. Ideation and pre-launch:
  • Uncover user needs: Conduct user interviews and surveys to understand your target audience’s pain points, goals, and current solutions. This helps refine your product concept and identify features with the highest user value. 
  • Competitive analysis: Research existing solutions in your space. Analyze their strengths and weaknesses to identify opportunities for differentiation in your product offering. 
  1. Development and beta testing:
  • Website and usability testing: Recruit potential users to test your website prototype or early product version. Observe their behavior, identify navigation issues, and gather feedback on user experience (UX). This ensures a smooth and intuitive user journey from the get-go.
  • Card sorting and tree testing: Understand how users categorize information and navigate through complex features. This helps you structure your website and product interface in a way that’s intuitive and user-friendly. 
  1. Post-launch and ongoing optimization:
  • Website analytics: Track key metrics like user behavior, conversion rates, and bounce rates.  Analyze this data to identify areas for improvement and optimize your website and marketing efforts for better user acquisition. 
  • A/B testing: Test different website elements (e.g., CTAs, product descriptions) to see which versions resonate better with users. This data-driven approach ensures you’re making improvements that actually drive user engagement and conversions. 
  • User feedback surveys: Gather feedback from existing users through surveys and in-app prompts. This helps you stay updated on evolving user needs and identify opportunities for continuous product improvement.

Understanding how your users behave

Quantitative research provides the data-driven foundation for your user research efforts. It allows you to gather measurable insights from a large pool of users, helping you identify trends and patterns in user behavior. Here are some key quantitative methods:

User surveys & polls

Craft surveys and polls that target your ideal customer demographic. Use open-ended and closed-ended questions to gather valuable data on user needs, pain points, and preferences. Remember, the key is to ask clear and concise questions that avoid leading the user towards a specific answer.

For Metta Space, an HR SaaS company, user surveys helped us reveal a critical disconnect. Their website focused on technical features, while HR professionals, their target audience, were primarily concerned with user adoption, ease of use, and regulatory compliance. This insight shifted the focus of their website content strategy towards addressing these core user concerns.

Website/app analytics

Leverage website analytics tools like Google Analytics to track user behavior on your website or app. Analyze key metrics like page views, bounce rates, session times, and conversion rates. This identifies areas for improving the user journey.

Metta Space’s website analytics revealed high bounce rates on key service pages and a low average time spent on these pages. This indicated users weren’t finding the information they needed quickly and easily. User behavior data from heatmaps and session recordings showed users were confused with navigation and could not engage with the content.

A/B testing

A/B testing allows us to compare different versions of website elements (e.g., CTAs, product descriptions, landing pages) to see which one performs better with users. This data-driven approach helps you identify the most effective design elements and user interface (UI) choices for your product or website.

For Metta Space, we used A/B testing to compare different versions of their website’s call to action (CTA) buttons. One version used generic language, while the other clearly communicated the user benefit of downloading their white paper. The A/B test revealed that the benefit-driven CTA resulted in a significant increase in website conversions.

Remember, quantitative research provides a wealth of data, but it doesn’t reveal the “why” behind user behavior. This is where qualitative research methods come into play.

Understanding what motivates your users

Quantitative research provides the “what” of user behavior, but to understand the “why” behind their actions, we delve into qualitative research methods. Here, we explore user motivations, frustrations, and thought processes to gain a deeper understanding of their needs and experiences.

User interviews

Conduct one-on-one interviews with potential or existing users. This allows for in-depth conversations to uncover their pain points, goals, and mental models when using related products or services.

For Metta Space, we conducted user interviews with HR professionals from companies of various sizes. These interviews revealed a hidden gem: Metta Space’s niche expertise in regulatory compliance for specific industries. This insight helped them tailor their website content and marketing messaging to target a more specific audience segment.

Usability testing

Recruit users to test your website or app prototype while observing their behavior and collecting their feedback. This helps identify usability issues, navigation challenges, and areas where the user experience can be improved.

Usability testing of Metta Space’s website revealed that users found the navigation confusing and the information on key service pages overwhelming. This feedback informed website redesign efforts, resulting in a more user-friendly and streamlined experience.

Card sorting & tree testing

These techniques help you understand how users categorize information and navigate complex functionalities. Users sort topics or features into categories, revealing their mental models and how they expect to find information within your product.

How to use this data to drive real change for your SaaS product

Don’t view quantitative and qualitative research as separate entities. True magic happens when you weave them together.

  • Quantitative data provides the “what” – the broad trends and patterns in user behavior.
  • Qualitative data reveals the “why” – the motivations, frustrations, and thought processes behind those patterns.

With these data sources, you gain a 360 degree understanding of your users and can identify key themes and opportunities for improvement.

How do you analyze the data?

Data is only useful to you when you know how to find and interpret the patterns useful to you. Here are a couple of key approaches we count on:

  • Thematic analysis: Identify recurring themes and patterns within your qualitative data (interview transcripts, user feedback). This helps you understand what matters most to your users and identify areas of focus.
  • User journey mapping: Visually map out the steps users take to interact with your product or service. This helps you identify pain points, identify opportunities to improve specific touchpoints, and ensure a smooth and satisfying user experience.

Metta Space’s user research revealed a disconnect between their website content and user needs. Users desired information about user adoption, ease of use, and regulatory compliance – topics not prominently featured on the website. This presented a clear opportunity to optimize their website content strategy.

How to act on these insights

Don’t let your research gather dust on a shelf! Here’s how to translate those insights into actionable steps:

  • Prioritize improvements: Focus on the most impactful opportunities for improvement based on user needs and business goals.
  • Develop user personas: Create user personas that embody your ideal customer, infusing their needs, goals, and pain points gotten from user research. These personas guide product development and marketing efforts.
  • Refine marketing strategy: Customize your marketing messages to connect with your target audience based on their needs and challenges. It only makes sense, if not what is all the user research for?!

User research is an investment you will not regret

The basic purpose of any SaaS product is to solve problems people face. Real people. But, you cannot actively provide effective solutions based on unfounded assumptions. That is why user research is an investment you cannot afford to skip. It tells you exactly how your target users want to be served so why pass up on that?

We agree it can be time-consuming and stressful, and that is why we came up with the perfect solution. Simply fill the form below, and we’ll take it off your hands while you focus on developing your SaaS product. Metta Space trusted us with understanding their target audience and saw tremendous results. How about you?

 

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