How to pick the right insights to act upon?
A framework to evaluate the importance of insights
"It's quite unusual to have someone like you who consults in user research for startups."
During a recent conversation, a friend who heads products at a growth-stage startup made this remark. Intrigued, I asked him to elaborate. He went on to say, "As a product manager, I consider myself a user researcher first and foremost. My primary goal is to uncover insights and determine the problems we need to address." I found myself nodding in agreement as he spoke.
If user research is such a vital component of product development, it's perplexing why researchers are often the first to be let go during layoffs. This seems counterintuitive. The true challenge lies not in the ability of PMs and researchers to uncover insights but in prioritising them effectively.
Acquiring the skill to derive insights is knowledge.
Understanding which insights to act upon is wisdom.
Drawing from my own experiences, I have developed the Insight Impact Matrix to help identify the most valuable insights for your project.
Insight Impact Matrix
The matrix is based on the intensity and longevity of an insight's impact. Let's take a closer look at each of the quadrants.
Q1: Low impact & short term
Insights that have a low impact in the short run are usually related to quick fixes/usability issues that are relatively easy. The correlation between the problem & solution is often clear, making it a straightforward process to implement changes.
"Users find it challenging to discover the customer support number."
"Users don't understand the term 'add to cart' in the checkout flow."
Q2: High impact & short term
Insights in this quadrant can potentially improve the app's north star metrics in the short run. They provide us with a direction towards a potential solution, but the path to implementation is not always straightforward. These types of insights typically require experimentation to determine the best approach.
Onboarding, engagement, retention, and dropoff challenges often fall under this quadrant. As a PM, generating insights in this quadrant should be a priority in the short run.
"Users drop off after the third step on the onboarding."
"Users find adding a new address on the website hectic and time-consuming."
Q3: Low impact & long term
These insights are characterized by lower impact in the short term but have long-term implications. These insights are related to behavioural trends potentially threatening in the short run but are expected to change due to macroeconomic trends over time.
"Women in India do not have access to a smartphone of their own."
"Indians are sceptical about adding their debit card information online."
Women not having access to mobile phones may be an opportunity for a smartphone maker, but it could threaten the market size of an online fashion brand in the short run.
You must catch these trends and patterns through research insights if you work in a founder's office or a strategy role. Depending on your perspective, these insights can be perceived as either long-term high impact or long-term low impact.
It's important to note that while insights in this quadrant may not have an immediate impact, they can be highly valuable in long term. They may signal a significant shift in consumer behaviour or a macroeconomic trend that could have far-reaching implications for your business.
Q4: High impact & long term
Insights in this quadrant have a high impact on the long term and could be potentially threatening to the business model. They arise when users engage with your product solely for external rewards like cashback rather than the core value proposition of the app.
Finding solutions to these problems may require making tough decisions for the larger good of the business, even if they take a hit in specific metrics in the short term. If you're a founder in a business or finance role, this is an insight that you should focus on.
"Users are purchasing on the app only for the steep discounts and cashback and might shift to a new app for better cashback."
"Users don't find paying for the premium features valuable as the free features solve all their requirements."
While insights in this quadrant may require difficult decisions, it's essential to approach these insights with a growth mindset and a willingness to take calculated risks for the greater good of your organization.
As the great investor Charlie Munger once said, "The first rule is not to fool yourself. And you are the easiest person to fool." So be honest with yourself. Are you getting sidetracked by shiny insights? If so, take a step back and remind yourself of your project's objectives.
Want to leverage the best of user research? Prioritize insights based on impact and longevity.
That’s all I had for today. How do you uncover consumer insights? Do drop your hacks and frameworks below in the comments :)
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