In essence, customer discovery is a scientific, customer-centric process that solidifies or validates an assumed product-market fit. The phrase itself was first coined by entrepreneurs and authors Steve Blank and Eric Ries, with both known for their contributions to lean methodologies for startups.
The process of customer discovery involves steps that resemble the traditional scientific method. The team must first observe and define a problem or market need and then develop a hypothesis-based solution in the form of a business idea. Once these steps have been completed, the team conducts an experiment to test a product concept and verify their hypothesis.
Experiments are based on the collection of mostly qualitative data that helps the organization understand how consumers think, act, or feel when they engage with a product or service. From this research, internal teams can create products that align with their customers.
Customer discovery, like the scientific method on which it is based, also allows businesses to formulate solutions that are free from personal bias, assumptions, or the opinions of friends, family, co-workers, or industry experts.
Let’s now take a look at two examples of how customer discovery was used to improve the outcomes for HubSpot and Casper.
When software marketer and developer HubSpot embarked on a website overhaul, it researched its visitors to determine the sorts of words that would resonate with them most. With assistance from several copywriters, HubSpot identified three core types of website visitors and defined the desired outcomes, priorities, anxieties, and pain points for each.
Any patterns or recurring themes were then identified, such as commonly used words or oft-repeated soundbites. At this point, the company incorporated these patterns and themes into its website copy across the homepage, product pages, and other areas.
The new, customer-driven copy was trialed for three weeks, with a subsequent 35% increase in demo requests, 27% increase in post-launch product registrations, and a nearly 100% increase in the site’s overall conversation rate.
Casper is a startup that sells sleep-related products such as mattresses, pillows, bed frames, duvets, sheets, blankets, and even dog beds. The company used the customer journey process to identify that customers were most likely to consider purchasing a new mattress between the hours of 1 and 3 AM.
Casper also learned from interacting with its customers that a very unique set of triggers caused them to think more seriously about improving the quality of their sleep. For example, some were motivated to buy a new mattress after welcoming a new dog into the family. Others were motivated by young children who had started to crawl into bed with them overnight, while others still were recently divorced and were experiencing difficulty sleeping alone.
Based on this detailed customer journey, Casper created content for those who had trouble falling asleep and targeted keywords such as “how to get to sleep earlier” in its content marketing campaigns. Readers who then landed on the Casper website were served ads that the company hoped would move them closer to a purchase decision. Ads were shown to users in the middle of the night and filtered according to whether each had experienced any of the triggers noted earlier.
Casper’s customer discovery efforts no doubt contributed to the company becoming a $1.1 billion unicorn in a saturated market, with approximately 175 online mattress companies forming since Casper was founded in 2014.
- Customer discovery is a scientific, customer-centric process that solidifies or validates an assumed product-market fit.
- HubSpot used customer discovery during a complete website overhaul, researching its visitors to determine the sorts of words that would resonate with them most. By incorporating patterns and recurring themes into its copy, the company was able to boost conversion rates, demo requests, and product registrations.
- Online mattress company Casper also used customer discovery to identify an unmet need in consumers who had difficulty sleeping. By targeting specific keywords and trigger points, the startup was able to reach unicorn status in a saturated market full of copycat businesses.