In the era of big data, there is no shortage of information for monitoring the effectiveness of your websites, mobile sites, and apps. Most companies with a digital presence have dashboards full of marketing metrics, Web analytics, and voice of the customer data.

But when these data sources suggest a problem on your digital properties, it's challenging to determine what to fix or how to fix it. Getting to the root cause requires a deep examination of the underlying user experience.

  • What user experience issues caused the problem?
  • Which improvements will make the biggest positive impact?
  • How do you measure and demonstrate the impact of your changes?

Here are five down and dirty ways to get at the "why" behind your data. It all starts with intercepting customers with a few survey questions about their experiences just after they have interacted with your digital products.

  1. Ask users why they came to your website and if they were successful in their intended tasks. This questioning allows you to pinpoint problematic aspects of your digital property by seeing areas of failure immediately.
  2. Include several open-ended questions to find out "why" users failed their tasks. Reading these comments directly from customers will be revolutionary. Suddenly, you will know more than ever about why some website pages are performing better than others.
  3. Pose a few key business questions about such matters as how they rate your brand and how likely they are to purchase from you. Pick the questions most important to your company. You can use these metrics to do a statistical analysis, and to find out which task experiences have the most impact on your business. The results of this analysis should provide solid direction for prioritizing where to make changes.
  4. Run your intercept survey continuously on your digital properties in order to measure the impact of changes you have made over time. Continuous feedback from customers will also help you pinpoint problems early and make changes before they have a hugely negative drain on the business.
  5. Invite users to be included in a community of customers for follow-up discussion. If you're having trouble convincing others in your company to make big change, a video clip illustrating user experience problems straight from the mouths of customers can be extremely persuasive. Invite customers to have further dialogue with you and record for others to see.

For more on how to get started with your own digital research program, read more.