What do website optimization, product design and content strategy have in common? They should all start with thorough research that ends in valuable insights from your customers.

Even developers must do thorough research during the website planning process so they can create a user-friendly platform.

There are a lot of things that you can achieve going in blind, but a good customer experience can help you with those results that matter – getting new users and retaining existing ones. 

With proper research you can start getting to know your audience in-depth. Do you know what pain points your users have? How about the ways they engage with your platform? 

When you get the answers to these kinds of questions, you’ll be able to come up with simple fixes that you didn’t think about before and make efficient changes.

Still, trying to get those elusive insights is far from simple. But as with all other things that are important, the results will be worth your effort.  

Not sure where to start? Let’s take a look at some of the tools that can help you understand your audience through proper research and consider new perspectives on getting the most out of your users.


FullSession

Figuring out your customer’s journey isn’t a simple task, but this comprehensive customer experience platform brings together features that aim to help you understand it.

FullSession is one of the best Hotjar alternatives currently available for free. It includes three main tools that you can use in your process to gather relevant user data and analyze insights.

Source: fullsession

Source: FullSession


Session Recording – Using instant replays, you can see complete user visits. Aside from the recordings that can show you issues and pain points that they encounter, you can also filter your users and sort them into groups. These can be based on a variety of factors, from their operating system and the performance they had, to all of the engagements that they made.

Further segmenting through characteristics such as average session time can be useful in learning why the conversions aren’t happening.

Interactive Heatmap – Real-time tracking is available for all elements, both static and dynamic. Filtering users is also available for heatmaps, which can be used for determining where they drop off off your website the most and how.

Customer Feedback – You can also get real-time input from users about each page. There are options for instant visual feedback, as well as NPS based on custom user segments. By pairing them with session recordings, you can view replays for specific users that gave a low score and get insights of what went wrong with their session.


FullSession Pricing

Basic packages with 3.000 monthly sessions start at $39, while there is also a Business package with 15.000 sessions per month and the price of $99. You can also ask for a tailor-made solution if you want to customize some of the features in a package. 


InnerTrends

By bringing together product analytics and data science, this tool offers built-in reporting with actionable insights that matter the most.

If you’re not sure whether or not the user journey that you came up with will work, you can use a set of reports to get the answers that you need (and hit your goals along the way).

Acquisition reports – This tool aims at optimizing user acquisition by analyzing elements such as traffic sources and their impact on the results, landing page efficiency and the sign-up process conversion rate.

Source: InnerTrends

Source: InnerTrends


User onboarding reports – These are a good way to analyze the user activation process for your product. Insights covered include the number of new accounts and the onboarding process, time needed for getting new users started, actions that they take between steps, as well as influences on the completion rate.

Retention reports – With this feature, you can also track how well you retain newly onboarded users, the retention rate on those who didn’t finish the process and differences between returning accounts and the churned ones.

Revenue reports – This is a functionality that’s still in the making. It’s focused on bringing together the company’s revenue and user engagement metrics to help you answer questions regarding the value of customers and the impact of churn on revenue.


InnerTrends Pricing

InnerTrends has a free version and free-trial periods, while other, more comprehensive packages start at $79 per month and change based on features available and a simultaneous number of accounts.


Smartlook

This tool is all about qualitative analysis – it helps you explore the reasons of users’ behavior and deep-dives into all-important insights.

Smartlook relies on a set of features aimed at always-on support and automated tracking. It gets you actionable information about your users both on websites and native mobile apps.

Recordings – Similar to FullSession, Smartlook offers instant replays that can be used to explore how visitors act during their sessions, determine their profile and filter them based on more than 30 recordings to get the most relevant insights.

Heatmaps – You can implement this element of customer experience research retroactively using data that you already have. These are easily segmented and shared using direct links.

Events – The best way to apply these is to save time by skipping interactions that aren’t important and looking up specific moments during a session, such as clicking the add to cart button. Everything is tracked automatically, so you can choose a specific event to track and see all the related data.

Funnels – This can be easily tied into events to track the issues users run into and fix them to increase conversion rates. As soon as you create a funnel, you can assess the data and see how it’s performing.

Analytics and Reporting – You can track data from all features through a customizable dashboard, along with automated tracking for everything and alerts for timely reactions. One-click retention tables can also help you identify specific engagements and identify churn.

Source: Smartlook

Source: Smartlook


Smartlook Pricing

Pricing starts at €31 per month. There are also plans that offer more features and are priced depending on the size of your business.


Gainsight

This software specializes in customer success and product experience. It combines customer feedback features and user-related analytics to help you improve customer experience.

Gainsight covers additional areas, such as customer expansion, but when it comes to gathering actionable insights there are three functionalities that stand out.

Source: Gainsight

Source: Gainsight


CX Center – This feature gives you a detailed, centralized view of customer insights. One of the specifics that make it stand out is Natural Language Processing – functionality that helps you identify your users’ most important issues. This gives you an insight of the relation between your actions and retention and revenue growth. It also has sentiment-based alerts for solving problems at the source.

Surveys – The software has options for numerous custom surveys for customer research, including Customer Effort Score, NPS and CSAT. You can apply pre-made questions and materials from their best practice library and analyze responses to optimize your strategy based on the results.

Journey Orchestrator – You can apply automated customer journeys to scale more efficiently. These are triggered by the most important events in the life cycle, which means that users get the right survey at the appropriate time. You can also use this to automate major moments for the customers such as onboardings and renewals.


Gainsight Pricing

Gainsight’s pricing for the package that includes all of the CX features, are only available upon request.


Summary

The overview of these convenient tools should give you a glimpse of what proper customer experience research can show you.

Depending on what goals you’re trying to achieve, you should try out the specific features that different platforms offer. Differences can often be in the details, so you should always explore before commiting.

There are many more options on the market for you to experiment with, but this selection of powerful tools is the perfect starting point. There’s no way around it – you need to see these tools in action to determine if they’re a perfect match for your business, but with clear goals and consistent use you’ll get those KPIs crossed off your list in no time.