In the world of consumer digital products, the buyer is almost always the end user. And in many ways, this makes everyone’s job easier, from business executives to your sales and marketing teams. But in the world of EdTech products, the same thing can’t be said. Students are by far the largest EdTech user group, yet they almost never have the power to decide which products they will be required to use as part of their education experience. Administrators, purchasing officials, and (occasionally) instructors handle this important decision. Which means that many of the stakeholders responsible for selecting EdTech products never actually use them on a day-to-day basis.
Of course, your EdTech company’s UX team is laser-focused on one thing: the needs of your end users. Yet your buyer’s selection criteria may not overlap much (or at all) with your users’ key concerns. For example, administrators and purchasing officials may focus on things like cost and interoperability, while your end users care more about ease of use and your product’s ability to help them achieve learning objectives. In the sales process, your decision maker’s concerns reign supreme. But in the long run, keeping your end users happy with an excellent user experience is key to retaining your accounts.
All of this means that your EdTech company has a big job to do. At a minimum, you must sell your product to decision-makers without losing sight of your end user’s problems. The good news? It’s possible to leverage your existing UX research as a tool of persuasion. You can use it to tell the story of your unique value proposition and give your key stakeholders the confidence to pull the trigger on your product. Here’s how.
Understanding Your EdTech Product’s Buyer Needs Versus User Needs
As we’ve already mentioned, your EdTech product’s end user needs might differ dramatically from those of your buyers. Your first step, then, is to document each set of stakeholders’ needs. You’ll want to pay special attention to where those needs overlap — and where they diverge. Your product has a unique set of stakeholders and user needs. Broadly speaking, however, most EdTech products serve administrators, instructors, and students. Their high-level needs often break out as follows:
- Administrators, purchasing officials, and IT teams: Security, interoperability, cost, accessibility, instructor and student satisfaction, and other risk-mitigation concerns.
- Instructors: Ease of use, features and functionalities, quality of customer reviews, and the product’s ability to help students achieve learning objectives or improve outcomes.
- Students: Ease of use, as well as the product’s ability to fit in or integrate with other tools the student uses, solve a student’s problems, or help a student learn material, stay organized, or improve classroom performance.
Did you catch the one concern that overlaps across all three stakeholder groups? That concern can generally be summed up as end-user satisfaction. From a sales and marketing perspective, this is fertile ground.
Remember, your UX researchers and designers are already in the habit of carefully studying how your end users interact with your product. They know what problems your product solves and how it makes your users’ lives easier. Because of that, your marketing and sales teams have a battery of evidence at their disposal. They can demonstrate exactly how your product meets your users’ needs, why it matters — and how satisfied your users are as a result. By leveraging this wisdom to help craft your unique value proposition, you can give your buyers confidence that your product will check the “end-user satisfaction” box with ease.
One last thing: In order to truly understand your various stakeholders’ concerns, you must invest in user research for each group. At the same time, it’s critical that you give the proper weight and priority to each group. Your buyers’ needs must be addressed, of course. But don’t let that derail your focus from your end users. In the end, if they aren’t happy, no one will be happy.
For example, instructors are usually on the front lines for product issues. If student users can’t accomplish a task, they go to their instructors for help first. A poor user experience for your students will quickly translate into a major headache for your instructors. And if that goes on too long, you can bet your administrators will hear about it, too.
How to Fold UX Research into Your EdTech Product’s Value Proposition
When it comes to demonstrating your product’s success among end users, quantitative data — specifically in the form of user experience metrics — packs the most powerful punch. UX researchers use metrics to measure everything from customer satisfaction to task completion rates and beyond. Use the following ideas to measure your product’s success in ways that will speak volumes to your buyers.
- Positive user reviews and social mentions. Does your product frequently collect high marks on third-party user reviews (such as Apple’s App Store) and social mentions? Include those details in your sales conversations and marketing materials.
- Partner with instructors to get student data. By joining forces with your instructors, you can mine useful student data. For example, end-of-semester course surveys represent an effective, built-in way to poll a large group of students about their experience with your product. Consider asking your most involved instructors to add questions about your product to their surveys. Doing so will give you actionable insights to strengthen your product in ways that will benefit your instructors — and, hopefully, yield positive feedback that can be used in your marketing efforts. Additionally, you could work with an instructor to A/B test your product across course sections. Comparing the two groups, can you attribute any specific student successes to their use of your product?
- Utilize standard UX metric scales. There are many standardized UX metric scales that can give a quick, data-driven snapshot of your products’ success in meeting your users’ needs — and your users’ overall level of satisfaction. For example, this might include the Net Promoter Score, Affect Grid, Single Ease of Use Question (SEQ), and the User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ).
By finding ways to connect your UX research to your sales and marketing efforts, you can close the loop between your efforts to serve your end users and your value proposition — one that is sure to grasp buyer’s attention.