Ultimately, an end user is a person who will use a good or service. End users are consumers. They do not produce, sell, support, or maintain the product. These people often do not have the same technical understanding as the product’s designers and developers.
It’s critical for a business to consider the end-user experience while developing products and services. User interfaces are a key part of the success of a product or service. Straightforward and intuitive interfaces need to be weighed against functionality and efficiency.
This can be a tricky balance to find. It’s vitally important to build a detailed profile of a company’s targeted end users. The profile may include information like demographics, user behaviors, needs, and goals.
Accurate targeting, along with audience segmentation, can help a company more effectively market its products and services and have them make that final purchase. Brands can improve on this by collecting and analyzing data. However, they need to stay aware of the possible limits of user research and be cautious about misinterpreting feedback.
What does the term end user mean?
The term end user typically is the people your products or services are designed for. They are often your customers, defined as people who purchase products from you. In fact, many companies focus on appealing to customers in their marketing campaigns.
However, customers and end users are not necessarily one and the same. Sometimes the purchaser is buying on behalf of another person or group of people.
For example, a company may purchase software that their employees, the end consumer, will then work with. End users are also distinct from users, who are more generally people that interact with the product or service at any point.
The final step in the manufacturing and delivery process is usually delivered to that end user. Because they’re the ones who will need to use your company’s online services or products, their user experience is critical for your business’s success.
The end users’ needs, goals, and expected technical capabilities need to be kept in mind at all stages of the product development process.
Characteristics of an end user
In order to target your end users, you need to build an accurate picture of them. Your business may be designed for a wide variety of end users, from other companies to entrepreneurs, digital nomads, and individual households.
The end user profile you build starts with basic demographic information. However, many profiles go beyond this to highlight consumer behavior patterns and the end users’ typical needs and goals.
End user demographics can include basic information such as:
- geographic location
Needs and goals
In order to create a fulfilling end-user experience, you need to understand your targeted end users’ three fundamental needs. These are their functional, emotional, and social needs.
Functional needs are what the end user is trying to accomplish. These can be put in either broad or very specific terms. For instance, they might be trying to keep the garden watered when they’re away, and are looking for an automatic sprinkler system.
Emotional needs refer to what the end user wants to feel as they interact with the product or the brand. It adds to perceived value. An enjoyable experience also makes it easier for the end user to learn how to use a piece of equipment or software.
Social needs refer to the social purpose that the end user sees in a service or product. End users may find their social needs fulfilled when they use products made from environmentally sustainable materials, for instance. Brands that publicly support causes the end users care about can also meet social needs.
Knowing who you are developing for, in broad demographic terms, is just the start. Behavioral patterns can give you an idea of how your targeted end users will interact with your brand and products.
What is the role of an end user in product development?
End users represent the final product of your company’s goods and services. Their hands-on, real-time interactions with these products will determine whether your business’s research and development was ultimately successful. The data you get from end users can throw light on pressing questions that your company may not be able to answer in other ways.
For instance, does your current product offer real value and solve problems? What directions will you take the products or services in for the future? Which features will you keep and which need to change as you develop similar, high-quality products?
End users may provide you with feedback in a variety of ways. You can gather both qualitative and quantitative information. For instance, you can interact with them directly, such as through interviews. More indirect methods may include monitoring social media.
However, you don’t need to wait until the end of the development cycle to get feedback. Some companies test products in development with end-user testing and A/B testing. Product testing can help you narrow down common end-user errors, get real data on friction points, and look at the overall end-user interface experience.
This information lets you improve your product’s design and functionality. It also acts as a guide for planning future areas of development. End-user testing lets you create more usable, accessible, and aesthetically pleasing products.
The feedback end users have to offer is one of their most important roles. For companies, feedback is knowledge and a huge benefit to business leaders.
In fact, this data is so valuable that you’ll probably want to collect feedback through multiple methods.
Two ways to explore the end-user experience in interacting with your product are end-user testing and A/B testing.
End-user testing involves observing users as they work with and respond to the product. This can help you identify pain points and predict behavior patterns. A/B or split testing involves offering end users one of two different versions of a product or service. In this case, you will be tracking which version performs better.
Each of these methods can offer important insights. If you have the budget for both forms of product testing, these two options complement one another.
Impact on design and functionality
Product design and functionality center around the end users. This means that companies must keep end users’ needs and preferences in mind at all stages of the project life cycle. Your business has to find a balance between product usability, accessibility, and aesthetics.
Usability refers to products that are easy to use or offer necessary features for the end user to accomplish a task. However, a highly usable product is not necessarily accessible. Accessible products are designed to be usable by end users with disabilities.
For instance, software with dozens of functions hidden in nested menus may be highly usable. Unfortunately, end users with dyslexia may struggle to read the tiny text in those menus. A compromise here might be replacing common functions’ labels with easily-understood icons.
Aesthetics, the final concern, is how a product looks. End users tend to see attractive products as more usable. Designers tread a fine line as they try to create high-quality products that visually stand out from the competition while still maintaining aesthetic appeal.
How do end users play a role in business and marketing
End users can be the main difference between a successful product launch and a company wrestling with a tide of negative reviews. Their experiences with the products and services are ultimately what matters. Whether the end users are being directly targeted or not, a business’s marketing efforts must keep their experience in mind.
In the modern marketplace, end users are a valuable part of the customer or user base. Some are the buyers. Others leave feedback to their employers on what products to buy. How do they learn about your brand and discover the solutions you have available? The answer can help you better target your marketing.
Businesses that clearly understand their customers’ needs and preferences can craft direct and indirect marketing campaigns that communicate an authentic message.
An effective marketing campaign goes where the end users already are, through a variety of marketing channels and social media platforms. They can include offering valuable content that builds brand awareness along with more overt marketing such as influencer promotions.
Targeting and segmentation
Efficient and effective marketing relies on accurate targeting. This is closely tied to audience segmentation. Businesses build a user persona based on what they discover through market research. This research will often target customers in general.
Despite this, some businesses may need to focus more specifically on end users versus product and service purchasers. They may get better marketing results by grouping end users by service output, average time spent interacting with the product, experience with similar products, final purchase, etc.
Examining the end user market on a more granular level helps the business make decisions on the best promotional strategies, potential missing features, pricing tiers, and more.
Understanding both the customer needs and preferences
When you have a clear picture of your customers and end users, you can streamline their buyer’s journey. This journey begins when the buyer becomes aware of a problem or pain point in their daily life or on the job.
That awareness stage is followed by the consideration stage, where the buyer looks for and finds potential solutions. The final stage of the journey is making a decision on which products or services will fix the initial issue.
Your company can satisfy this need, make a sale, and build brand loyalty by closely meeting your customers’ needs and preferences.
Creating effective marketing campaigns
In some cases, a different entity is buying products for end users. However, a growing number of these end users are also purchasers.
This is being driven by a number of economic and demographic shifts, including employees working from home and seniors choosing to age in place. These people are looking for solutions to streamline their new ways of living and working.
Effective marketing campaigns will target end users like these with personalized messages that leverage end-user feedback and information gathered from demographic surveys.
Direct marketing tactics such as collaborating with social media influencers to highlight a particular product or service are often paired with content marketing such as social media posts and blogs.
Online content that uses behavioral targeting and resonates with end user’s needs and goals can build brand awareness. It also raises customer curiosity even when it doesn’t explicitly promote a product.
Challenges and limitations in understanding end users
Because there are often several degrees of separation between your business and the end users, it can be challenging to build an accurate profile of them. Here are some areas where you may run into problems:
Data collection and analysis
Data collection can help you discover end users’ likes and dislikes, pinpoint what problems they have that you can solve, and streamline the product development process. There are a number of ways you can collect and analyze this vital data about your end customer. Start by reviewing the applicable laws and regulations such as GDPR.
Once you understand how you can protect these end users’ privacy and data security, you can jump into collecting end-user information, right?
The challenge here is that it can be tricky to get people to respond to data collection methods. Many companies incentivize this process in some way. These incentives lead to an increase in feedback. They can also reduce the accuracy and reliability of the data you’re getting.
Ideally, you’ll be pulling information from multiple sources. This can give you a bigger, more representative sample. It will also give you different kinds of data.
These range from quantitative information such as the percent increase in subscriptions to qualitative statements made by focus groups. However, more and varied types of data can make it challenging to analyze the end users and clarify the bigger picture.
If data collection and analysis isn’t something you’re comfortable conducting on your own, you may want to think about working with marketing research companies. These companies collect data, analyze it, and sell reports to their business customers.
When you’re relying on a third party for such critical information, do the legwork to find one with a proven track record for reliability.
Misinterpretation of end-user feedback
Your end users can be a valuable source of information on how effective your products and services are. However, the information you get from them isn’t always clear. Reading reviews and scanning questionnaires can only give you so much data.
On the one hand, if every review mentions the same problem, you’re likely looking at a real trend that needs to be addressed.
However, many end users don’t have the technical knowledge to describe why something happened. They can only talk about what went wrong from their own perspectives.
Are they experiencing issues because there’s a shortcoming in your product?
Could these problems be explained by end-user error, incorrect installation, or something else? It can be time-consuming to sort through user feedback and try to reverse engineer how the problem occurred.
It’s also important to look at the overall proportion of negative reviews to the total number of end users.
After all, the people who use your products are less likely to leave reviews when the software program is performing well and has faded into the background of their workflows. You can sometimes get a more balanced representation by gently nudging end users to leave feedback, but this isn’t always possible.
Limited representation in end-user research
Whether you purchase from a marketing research company or get data yourself, you may end up with information that doesn’t paint a reliable picture of your business’s end users.
Non-representative samples and small sample sizes make it difficult to draw conclusions.
Meanwhile, it can be very expensive and difficult to get data from a large, representative sample. This is especially true when you’re interested in a small demographic population or customers who have very niche interests.
Even if the data is representative, it can be difficult to interpret. For example, many surveys and response forms have too-broad objectives and unclear questions. These can seriously limit their usability.
Including the option for write-in answers can help. However, you or your marketing research company will then need to sort through this data to figure out trends.
End-user research can help your company develop products and refine your marketing and growth strategies. It also comes with distinct risks.
Get to know your end users
Your end users are the people at the end of the chain who actually use or consume your business’s products and services. The products you’re developing are ultimately for them. Your marketing efforts will only succeed in the long term if your products meet the end users’ needs.
But what do they need? Detailed information on demographics and behaviors can tell you some things. Product testing and feedback may fill in the gaps in your profile.
It takes accurate data to build a good profile of your end users. Mailchimp offers real-time reporting and a host of options for analyzing the people your marketing campaigns are connecting with. Once you’ve attracted interest, email segmentation and customer journeys let you tightly target end users with the right content to highlight your products and services.