Product roadmaps are essential strategic documents that all too often fail to deliver value. They fail to paint a clear picture of the product strategy, fall short of keeping the momentum, or worse still, lead to the development of clunky products with high user churn.
To hit the mark, product roadmaps need to be living documents - revisited and updated regularly against the company's resources, the growing understanding of user needs, and user expectations that change.
In this blog post, we will show how surveys can be used to build effective product roadmaps - with the right priorities and a clear picture of the company strategy.
What is a Product Roadmap?
A product roadmap is a high-level, structured plan on how to develop your product.
It consists of:
the list of new features to implement
the list of upcoming upgrades
the timeline of what is built in a week, month, quarter, or a year.
The primary purpose of a product roadmap is giving the development team and stakeholders a clear vision of the priorities are; of the upcoming implementations and long-term changes and how they tie to a company's long-term objectives.
As we've said, the documents are not static. As you develop your product, you uncover new user insights, influencing your vision. Moreover, user expectations are changing. So is the competitive landscape. Something nice to have today can quickly become a must-have tomorrow. Failing to keep up with the changes may lead to losing product-market fit and high user churn.
What can help you prioritize new features to implement is the feedback from customers and website visitors. Let's take a look at how to build a better product roadmap.
How Customer Feedback Help Build Better Product Roadmaps
Product teams often make product decisions based on only a few answers. It's a mistake we're all prone to making. It's not uncommon to push a particular decision considering product development only because a few customers made a feature request.
It sounds like a reasonable choice, right? Where's the mistake? The problem is not taking into account all existing and potential customers.
How to Prioritize Decisions Creating a Product Roadmap
As already mentioned, setting priorities is key. But how to do it?
Look at the potential outcome of decisions regarding the product roadmap. Should you prioritize a new feature that will help you potentially acquire 50 new users, or one that will help you upgrade 30 current customers from basic to more expensive subscriptions?
The key is their lifetime value. Also, bear in mind that the fact that people say they would buy a subscription if you add a feature or two doesn't necessarily mean they will do it.
Existing users are a different story, however. For them, a lack of a particular feature can be a real pain, and they will be happy to upgrade as soon as you add it.
With revenue in mind, don't forget about your vision. Focusing on urgent tasks only can blur your vision of a product, which can be dangerous in the long run.
A simple way to avoid it is to plan the time, resources, and the spend. For example: Devoting 30% of the time to building your long-term vision and the rest to introducing new features that will help you maintain and acquire new customers now.
Collecting feedback from customers is easy – you can talk to them using chat, email, send surveys or even call them – it's up to you what you choose. If you choose the right product feedback tool that is easy to implement, you can start collecting product feedback in minutes.
As far as surveys are concerned, here are the digital touchpoints that are most effective for collecting significant numbers of insights.
If, for instance, you own a food delivery app, you might catch a user right after he or she dealt with an obstacle or asked about a handy feature that would skyrocket your product.
Like with website surveys, when sending mobile surveys, follow up on missing features requests. Nevertheless, remember that your mobile device respondents won't have the convenience of a keyboard to write long answers or answer many open-ended questions.
Another option worth considering is using email surveys to get feedback from all existing customers. It's a great way to reach the users who haven't interacted with your product since you've launched your website and mobile app questionnaires.
Answers will show you what to focus on. Plus, if you integrate your surveys with your marketing automation tools like Intercom, HubSpot or ActiveCampaign, you can see answers on profiles or customers so you can reach out to them with more questions about requested features or get back to them when you add features they need.
'Which features or product changes would you like to see the most?'
TIP: It is best to ask these questions in an open-ended format so that you're not suggesting any answers by displaying a list. Otherwise, your respondents might upvote features that are more of a nice-to-have, and not critically-needed, list.
The integrations allow SaaS companies to collect in-product surveys and quickly act on the user feedback right in the product tools. They can easily feed their product roadmaps with user feedback and feature requests.
By enhancing product roadmaps with quotes from users and survey quantitative data, product managers gain evidence for the stakeholders that given implementations need to be done. The user feedback also helps product teams to understand user personas and come up with better user stories and better solutions, as a result.
Building a product roadmap is worth the effort only if you share it. If defined on the basis of thorough customer feedback, it can do real wonders for your entire organization.
Just think of it:
The product team has no doubts about what to focus on. And, sales reps use it as an argument to explain to potential customers why building a specific custom feature is not possible soon.
What is more, if you know a specific feature, such as integration with an external partner, is on its way and anticipated by many customers, you'll already be able to collect emails for early access!
Now, let's look at those leads. Being presented with a product roadmap, potential customers will be able to make a more informed choice while choosing a provider. Please think of the positive influence it will have on lowering churn rates.
Last but not least, your support team will also appreciate it – when people are familiar with the roadmap before signing up, they will have fewer requests and questions about new features.
Hi there! As the Head of Content & SEO at Survicate, I'm in charge of planning and executing our content strategy. I make sure that our efforts align with the company's business goals, while always keeping an ear out for our tone of voice. I occasionally write articles for the Survicate blog to share some know-how I am gaining on the go. I'm always excited to hear from our audience and make improvements to our work. So please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have anything to share!
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