Exposure, education and preservation: A user’s journey
When startups plan to turn their users into marketers they need to make sure they are ready to represent
A few weeks ago we launched our piggy app on the Apple and Google app stores. Since then, we welcomed our first users, we began receiving feedback, analyzing statistics and data, and to a considerable extent, we are refining our insights about the app and how to use it. To refresh our collective memories, piggy allows you to create documents from your mobile phone for personal use or sharing, encouraging creators to include images, videos, animations, and a variety of creative tools to make the document rich and engaging. This creativity is produced from a mobile phone, simulating familiar tools our target audience (teens and young people) recognizes from social networks.
Last week I presented the app to the participants of a technology conference in England. It was exciting to fly after such a long time, meet people from the industry in person and get back to a work routine that reminds us of the days before the Covid outbreak. When I showcased the app and the products that can be created with it, I chose to present very impressive documents, which used a wide variety of the app’s tools and emphasized piggy’s unique capabilities. However, while I was happy to receive quite a few positive reactions, I did not forget for a moment about the gap between my well-planned demo, and the experience of the average user, rather than the company CEO. That means that the impressive features and actions I presented would not necessarily be as impressive through someone else’s user experience..
Most of the examples I presented at the conference were piggy documents created by company employees or people we personally trained, and only a few were created by ordinary users. And the truth is that there is still a considerable gap between the quality of the documents we create with piggy and those created by other users. The good news for us is we were able to show that you can create awe-inspiring documents with the app that fulfill our vision. The not-so-good news is that for it to happen in the real world outside of our office, we still have a lot of work to do.
Product and marketing professionals often analyze and inspect the user’s journey, a term that refers to the whole interaction between a user and a product. It does not begin when the user uses the product for the first time, rather earlier, when a potential user hears about the product or becomes aware of it. A user's journey of a product like a soft drink, for example, begins the first time he or she is exposed to its advertisement or sees it on the shelf in a store or on a restaurant’s menu. At that moment, certain expectations are created in the user's mind about the product, which may have a decisive effect on how they will use it, how they will see it, and how they will "explain to themselves" their experience with it. The journey continues with the first experience using the product (tasting the drink in this example) and continues throughout the "relationship" between the product and the user, in this case - reuse, a recommendation to others, etc.
Sometimes the initial use is enough to create a strong affinity between the creator and the consumer (drug dealers, for example, will provide customers a free first try for this reason), and sometimes the user's journey also includes external support to encourage reuse through advertising, customer incentives, loyalty clubs (such as airlines' frequent flyer clubs), direct communication with users (mailing lists or "push" messages), customer support services and other means. The three stages of building a user journey - exposure, use, and preservation, consist of a large number of variables and processes that the company that manufactures and markets a product must address.
In piggy’s case, the first stage is particularly challenging. Our product is not one-dimensional like a soft drink and includes a complex and varied message. We do not have complete control over how the user's journey begins or over our dialogue with the consumer, because they can be exposed to our product in a variety of ways - an advertisement, an encounter through an app store search, hearing from others, or through documents created by another user.
The assumption at the core of our marketing strategy is that the vast majority of users will come across the app because someone shared a document created on piggy and that in some of those cases users will be intrigued enough to check out the app. However, because piggy can produce an unlimited variety of documents, from schoolwork through resumes, to letters, manuals, personal diaries, and more, the document recipient may get the false impression that piggy can only produce that one type of document. Furthermore, if a document recipient is exposed to a low-quality document he or she may conclude that the system with which the document was created is not of high quality, and won’t attribute the low quality to the work of the document creator.
Therefore, our current challenge is to concentrate on two objectives at the same time, first, to proactively encourage the creation of a significant amount of high-quality documents, which will serve as "ambassadors" for us, intrigue those exposed to them and showcase a relatively broad and varied picture of piggy’s capabilities. The second objective is to create an initial (onboarding) experience that will encourage users to study the app in-depth and positively frame it in the eyes of the users. It is a more difficult task when the product does not only stand on its own but is actually a platform for creating other products (documents).
I am curious how the creators of the first word processors, or first software for presentations, "educated" their users regarding the essence of their product and its possible uses. Today, however, their use is so frequent and profitable that whoever uses them usually knows exactly what he or she is seeking to achieve. Not every user is familiar with all the capabilities of these products, but at least they are spared from wondering about the essence and purpose of the product, a luxury that piggy still does not have of course. In order to produce such an awareness level, we try to operate in a variety of methods and channels, a challenging task for a small company with limited resources.
We try to produce informational materials, make the user interface as clear and friendly as possible, design the initial user experience by exposing the user to an explanatory video during the first use, and improve the way the app appears in the app stores, among other things. But above all, as mentioned, we believe that most users will meet us for the first time when their acquaintance shares with them some document created with piggy, and therefore most of our efforts are devoted to proactively guiding as many users as possible to create great documents and share them with multiple recipients.
For this purpose, we approached several organizations and suggested creating for them (at our own initiative and at our own expense) documents with marketing value that they could distribute to their mailing lists or showcase in various forms, such as social networks, to their customers. We also initiated various design competitions, encouraging people to use piggy to produce a particularly good document in order to win the competition, and we turned to various companies to show them how to replace and distribute their current documents with piggy. We try to convince them that, unlike their traditional and boring documents, a document created with piggy will be much more popular among its recipients.
These are all complex processes that require a lot of effort and resources. Our perception is that we have reached a stage where the app, even in its relatively rudimentary version, already has the potential to lead to a positive outcome for its users. But in order for this potential to be realized, the market needs to be thoroughly educated, and an adherence to quality that will serve as an example for others is crucial. If we succeed to impress at the first meeting point with the customer, and then produce a detailed and effective instruction process that will lead to a successful initial user experience (which in our case will be measured not only with the enjoyment or ease of use of the app but also with the quality of the document created), we can move on to focus on customer preservation techniques, and on accelerating marketing and distribution efforts.