Pendo. UserVoice. Revulytics. Optimizely. AB Tasty. Mixpanel. Visual Website Optimizer.

And many more…

I’m a fan of user analytics and A/B testing products. They do what they say on the tin: you can track real product usage, identify trouble areas, optimize web pages, capture feedback, and even create how-to’s and contextual help for users. I’ve implemented Pendo at a prior company and would again.

My reservation about user analytics tools has nothing to do with the products and everything to do with how we as product managers use them. It’s a big world – and market – out there. By making it much easier to analyze existing users from multiple angles, it’s that much more tempting for product teams to ignore two of the three most important groups out there:

  1. The buyers (aka “people who sign checks”)
  2. Those who aren’t customers yet

Jeff Lash of Sirius Decisions summed up my feelings nicely over the weekend at ProductCamp Boston:

“If you don’t understand the buyer, you’ll never get to the user.”

Your users can be great at pointing out the things you can do to make them more effective with your tools, which is awesome. But rarely are they thinking about how your business model needs to evolve or which partnerships are going to be critical for you next year. They certainly aren’t focused on what’s going to make your product appeal to the hordes of non-users out there.

Unfortunately, that’s where your growth will come from.

Embrace the Hustle. Talk to Buyers and Non-Customers

Of finding the buyers and non-customers, my Pragmatic Marketing instructor once told me, “There’s not a whole lot of sophistication to it. It’s 90% hustle.”

He wasn’t kidding, either. His favorite tactic was doing multiple laps from a conference to the airport and back so that he could “coincidentally” share a cab with the people he wanted to meet and have a captive audience for thirty minutes. That’s hustle all right. But as cool as his story was, I thought I’d have a hard time doing that.

We started UserMuse to make it easier for those of us who hesitate to finagle their way into cabs with potential customers. Besides, Uber is ruining that tactic anyway. (Thanks, Travis).

It will always be harder to get time with non-customers. Buyers are even harder to get a hold of than users, and there are far fewer of them anyway. But those are the people who drive your growth. It’s not surprising to me that the largest share of UserMuse projects have been looking for “decision makers” in this or that industry.

So go ahead and embrace user analytics. A/B test and optimize your site. Polish and polish and polish some more.  But focus even more on the people who drive growth.

Sign up for UserMuse to understand your buyers and prospects better than ever.

…or become an expert for hire!