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Three ways experimentation makes products better

Despi Ross June 4, 2017

Written by: Jeff Cunning, Quantifi VP of Product

Product strategy is one of the most pivotal elements of any software company. Product managers spend day and night honing and tweaking strategy based on the many inputs they receive, such as market analysis, customer and investor feedback, executive direction, design influence, pricing impact, engineering scope, and many more. It’s important to strike a balance that is democratic enough to cater to those influences yet dictatorial enough to drive unwaveringly toward a unique and differentiated vision.

I have found experimentation to be an incredibly impactful practice for improving product strategy in my role at Quantifi. I’ve also been inspired by how other brands have used experimentation to improve their products. Here are a few ways that experimentation works for us:

1. Trying new things brings reactions from the market
Successful startups disrupt industries by bringing a new perspective that solves a brand new problem, or that solves an existing problem in an entirely new way. Presenting a strong vision to do one of those things can lead to the best feedback you can get — whether it’s someone calling you crazy, validating your idea, or providing insight as to how to make that vision even better. Those reactions are invaluable. The more a product team can present brand new and differentiated ideas to the market — investors, customers, analysts — the more inputs they’ll receive to advance and fortify a great concept. When customers first started using Quantifi, they loved the many capabilities around experimentation but needed to tie their campaign goals more closely to specific conversion events. That feedback helped us shape our roadmap to quickly include more specific goal types like driving page views, sign ups, and purchases.

2. Exploring different solutions to a problem helps drive operational efficiency
The golden rule of product management: what problem are you trying to solve? As long as you are focused on a well-defined problem, there are infinite solutions to get the job done. It’s important on our team to explore those solutions broadly to identify what makes something more intuitive, more differentiated, or easier to build. By collaborating closely across our engineering, design, and go-to-market teams, we are able to develop more innovative ideas so we can build better and more intuitive products even faster.

3. Testing concepts with customers helps hone in solutions
While customer feedback is yet another single input to account for with product strategy, it is one of the most important. Especially as it relates to renewals and ongoing usage of a product. User research is a valuable way to test your proposed (or existing) design with customers to find how easy it is to use, how much perceived value is present, and what important features might be missing. We continually share experimental concepts and designs with customers to help hone in on exactly how our user interface can best solve their specific set of problems.

Product teams have a never-ending list of suggestions for how to make a product better. But with an evolving marketplace and a finite set of time and resources, they are responsible for building unwaveringly toward a vision that accounts for as many important inputs as possible. Experimentation is a valuable practice for gathering the right feedback at the right times for driving your vision forward.