4 Bite-Sized Methods of User Research

To make an emotional connection with your constituents, you need to first understand their needs and motivations. Enter user research.

The universe of user research is vast and perhaps daunting; however, all research activities are really scalable, meaning that you can run them in a quick, cheap, and bite-sized way. Here are some examples:

User Interviews

With a qualitative research method like this one, you really don’t need a large sample size to get good data. All you need is a basic script of questions you’ll ask and 6-8 participants. Ideally, your participants will represent different constituent groups: donors, volunteers, new registrants, event participants, etc.

This method is ideal for understanding motivations. Examples of questions include:

  1. How did you come to be involved with our organization?
  2. What adjectives would you use to describe us?
  3. Tell me a story about how or why our mission is meaningful to you.

Data obtained from user interviews can be used to develop Audience Personas, to help guide design and content creation for your website/emails and to get ideas for improving events.

Google Analytics Data Review

This is a unique research method in that it provides quantitative data and doesn’t require any participant recruitment. Assuming you have Google Analytics running on your website, you have tons of data (maybe too much!) at your fingertips about how people use your website. To keep it bite-sized, start by looking at:

  • Behavior > Site content > Landing pages
    You know your homepage is a major entry point for your website but looking at this list will reveal other pages where users land. These pages may represent a potential donor’s very first impression of your organization so be sure they’re optimized to drive deeper engagement on your site.
  • Behavior > Site content > Exit pages
    On the flip side, keeping an eye on where users leave your website may reveal some opportunities for improving those pages to provide more internal links and keep users on your site for longer.

A/B Testing

A/B testing is comparing the success of one page/email/donation form against another. Believe it or not, you can conduct these tests in a bite-sized way too. Keep the test focused on one thing you want to learn. Examples:

  1. Do our donors respond better to an inter-generational photo or one with only children?
  2. Will constituents be more likely to open or click on an email where we use their name in the Subject Line?
  3. Does a button generate more clicks than a text link in our emails?

To test a page or donation form, you need to create two versions for testing. Then, in Google Optimize, you can set-up a redirect test to split traffic between the two urls. Google can choose a winner for you after enough data is gathered, but you can also run reports or look at Analytics data for each option to evaluate the success on your own.

For emails, you’ll also need two versions for testing. Then, you’ll send version A to half of your list and version B to the other half. Ideally, you’d randomize the split of the list. From there, you can evaluate opens, clicks and conversions to learn the answer to your question.

Social Media Engagement

The final bite-sized research method I’ll mention is using social media. If there’s something you want to learn from your constituents, you can ask them on one of your social media accounts. Some examples of questions you may post:

  1. We’re busy planning our Walk for 2021! We’d like to know: would you prefer an in-person walk, another virtual walk, or having both options available?
  2. We’re working on our newsletter for July and would love your input. What do you want to learn about? Please share some topics or ideas in the comments!
  3. Storytime! We love hearing stories from our supporters about how they came to volunteer with us. Let us know how you heard about us in the comments.

When you start a conversation like this, the most important part is to listen and respond to your constituents by posting follow-up comments and actually applying their input into your communications. This will encourage repeat engagement, building relationships with your social followers.

I hope these options will open up the door to user research for your organization so you can connect with your constituents on a deeper level.