In our last post, we began the discussion on the importance of data and analytics from a very high level. We focused primarily on how our users were signing up and the friction our users were experiencing during the initial activation process.
Today, we’ll be briefly covering our customer development process. If you’re unfamiliar, customer development is a term, coined by Steve Blank, that refers the general process of learning more about your customers or potential customers. Since Blank’s initial publication - first written as part of his Berkeley Haas curriculum - his theory of customer development has become a pillar of the lean startup methodology.
The basic premise is incredibly simple - to build a good product that grows, we need to know who our customers are and what specific problems they're trying to solve. Use as many points of contact as possible, and continue engaging users through these channels because their feedback will always inform the development process.
Identifying our most engaged users
Relying on support tickets or inbound emails from users is one definite way of identifying users who are really engaged with our product, but these emails are few and far in between. That is unless, of course, something goes incredibly wrong.
From the beginning, we knew that we needed to find a way to get more feedback from our customers. We first tried sending out email campaigns with random samples of our user base - you can imagine how well that worked (it didn’t). After reviewing the results, we realized that in our eagerness to engage with our customers we had skipped an obvious but flawed solution. We decided to create a feedback form using Google Forms and included two prominent buttons within the email report.
The understanding was that we were not going to try emailing anyone for feedback, but instead we wanted to make it easier for someone to give us that feedback.
Feedback surveys can still be relevant
The benefit of this approach is that instead of asking users to respond to us, regardless of how engaged they are, we simply gave our already engaged users an easier way to contact us in a very non-intrusive manner. In our last post we talked about how we lowered the friction for user activation - consider this very similar, we just lowered the friction for user feedback.
We made every question in the survey optional and gave our users the option to anonymize their responses. Interestingly enough though, most of our users decided to remain identifiable. We never asked or prompted any users to give us the feedback, so the users who did were volunteering their time to us and were even open to be reached for a follow up.
If you’re still reading, you probably want me to get to the point of this post - so who cares most about our Gmail analytics tool?
Managers and team leaders need email statistics
While our users include anyone from developers to bloggers to founders, this is the single largest demographic of engaged users by far. When so many of our business communications these days are done over email, and when there are always so many different addresses for emails to come from and go to, it’s no surprise that managers would be interested in understanding how their teams are dealing with it all.
We were very surprised to learn just how creative some of our users are. A few of our users had actually gotten entire teams onto Gmail Meter and set up an automatic filter to forward the monthly reports to a central account. A business or enterprise version of Gmail Meter became an obvious eventuality. Some of our users have become reliant on the data provided in the current limited Google Apps script version, and we now have a much better idea of what our users could want.
While we have a vision for a potential enterprise Gmail Meter, we understand that many of our hypotheses will remain so until our users validate them. Still, we can’t begin to tell you how excited we are at the prospect of building a great tool that can really help some people in not only business operations but maybe even personal productivity as well.
I hope you are just as excited as us, please feel free to contact us with any questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please stay tuned as we’re really treating the early days of this blog as a development journal. We have much more to talk about and a couple of surprises, so feel free to subscribe below or follow us on Twitter to stay updated!