In our long history of building digital experiences, we know the most critical factor in creating a successful digital strategy is a deep understanding of our audience. It’s not enough, however, to understand our audiences’ demographics, their personas, or even customer segments.
In order to “build the right thing” for our audience, it’s not enough to understand what our audiences need; we need to understand why they need it.
Why motivation matters
When we know why our audience needs or wants something, we can identify the hidden motivations that drive our audiences’ behaviors. And that knowledge can drastically change the product, the campaign, and/or other solutions we might develop.
For example, a consumer who is shopping for health insurance isn’t really shopping for the perfect health plan. Afterall, most consumers don’t understand the ins and outs of their health plan at all. What consumers are shopping for in a health plan is:
• Peace of mind for themselves and their family
• Trust in the company providing the plan
• Easy access to care
• Confidence they’ll be taken care of if they get sick
Understanding these specific motivations helps us identify the real features and content we need to present to our audience, right down to the tone of voice we should use when talking to our audience.
So how do we assess our audiences’ primary motivators?
We’re obsessed with research, so that’s the first step to identifying audience motivators. We’ll survey users, talk with stakeholders, conduct environmental assessments and competitive analyses.
But synthesizing the data is really where the magic happens. It’s about using our experience, sensitivity, and understanding of human behavior to think beyond what our audiences say they want. It’s about having the patience to read between the lines of the research to determine why your audience wants what they want.
This is where the “motivator map” exercise comes in handy. Using the research we can make a list of audience needs — features, content, tools — review them as a team, and assign motivators to each audience segment, and to each feature and/or content request. This process allows us to assign motivators that apply to multiple audiences, and multiple feature requests, which allows us to identify cornerstone content and informs the navigation model and IA.
The power of “why”
We’ve long admired and adhered to the theory that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. (Thanks Simon Sinek!) Applying that same thinking to understanding our audiences just makes sense. We firmly believe the key to success in design and UX is rooted in a deep empathetic knowledge of our audience.