Learning Why Users Leave

The Most Important User You’re Not Talking To 

Laura Klein
Mar 19, 2014 · 2 min read

Do you have a product? With users?

If you answered “yes” to both of those questions, you have an amazing untapped source for product research. And I’m not talking about your users.

I mean, sure, you should be listening to users and observing them. A lot. But there’s another group of people who can provide you with incredible insights into your product.

You should be talking to people who used your product once and then abandoned it. Tweet This!

Specifically, you need to ask these people the following questions:

  • What were you expecting when you tried this product?
  • How did it not meet your expectations?

This research will help you understand three things very clearly:

  • What your messaging and acquisition strategy is telling people to expect.
  • What problem the people you are acquiring are trying to solve.
  • Why your product doesn’t solve this problem for the people you are acquiring.

You’ll notice that I mentioned “acquisition” in each of the above points. This is intentional. You see, one of the things you are very likely to find out from this sort of research is that you are getting entirely the wrong group of people to try out your product.

If you’ve been spending a lot of time optimizing your ads and your messaging for sign up conversion rather than for actual product usage and retention, it may turn out that you are acquiring a whole lot of the wrong sort of user for your product, which can be a costly mistake. This kind of research is fabulous for understanding if that’s true.

The other thing that this research helps with is understanding whether or not you’re adequately solving the problem you think you’re solving in a way that users can understand. If new users can’t figure it out what your product does and how to do it in a few seconds, they’ll leave without ever knowing that your product was the solution to their problem.

Of course, this isn’t the easiest group of people to interview. These folks can be tricky to track down and tough to schedule. But finding a way to interview people who thought they wanted to use your product and then changed their minds is something that will pay off hugely in the long run.

Like this story? I write about this stuff on my blog, Users Know.

Or, read the book. UX for Lean Startups.

    Laura Klein

    Written by

    Principal at Users Know & Author of UX for Lean Startups. I blog about UX, Research, Product Management, and Lean Startup.

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