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Product research tools: a guide for product teams

Product research is a nuanced process that helps product teams understand their users’ needs and build a product people will love. But the research process isn't as straightforward as interviewing a few potential customers and calling it a day.

Some of the challenges of product research are collecting unbiased data, implementing different research methods, and translating findings into actionable steps for product development. 

Handling all this can be pretty taxing, and you might be surprised to learn that product team members are only human!—so there’s only so much they can do (efficiently) without exhausting themselves.

Enter product research tools.

Whether you’re a product manager struggling to handle different roles, or a product designer who wants to make the research process more practical, the right product research tools will be your best friends.

This article will help you determine which product research tools you need, and why you should add them to your tech stack today.

Tired of carrying out ineffective manual research?

Hotjar gives you the tools to magnify your product research efforts with user behavior insights. The deeper you know your customers, the more effective your product can be.

Product research tools: the what and how 

Building a customer-centric product isn't a cakewalk—you need every bit of help you can get. So imagine you begin fact-checking and managing biases during research only to realize you're working with insufficient or inaccurate data.  

Product research tools make product management more structured and your findings more accurate with data-backed insights and help you uncover deep-rooted and intuitive information about how to delight your customers.

But do you really need to invest in dedicated product research tools, or can you make do without them? Let’s see:

5 ways product research tools help product teams

Product research is a key element of product success—it helps you understand your customer and come up with better ideas and initiatives for your products. Research tools help you do all that faster, more efficiently, and with better accuracy. 

Here are five ways product research tools are helpful:

  1. Organize processes for efficiency and speed: product research is an ongoing process without a definite end date. Product research tools can help organize the process and neatly stack and organize research findings for easy analysis and use.

  2. Conduct qualitative and quantitative product research: it’s important to make the most of both qualitative—subjective and opinion-based—and quantitative—hard, numerical—data as much as possible in your research. This gives you both the bigger picture and the ability to dive in for deeper insights. Traditionally, combining both has been expensive and complex, but today’s tools make it easier to get a complete picture of your users. 

  3. Use data-backed customer insights to guide product decisions: instead of making assumptions and guesses, product research tools provide actionable information about users' needs to help you make smart product decisions.

  4. Get validation and buy-in for your ideas and decisions: use rich product analytics to support your research and findings. It’s easier to secure buy-in from stakeholders with data than it is trying to convince them to trust your gut. 

  5. Ensure you don’t miss out on something crucial: product research is just one part of product management. However, miss one critical step and your entire research process could be compromised. Research tools can help you create workflows, set reminders, and build strategies to ensure you always follow best practices. 

What factors should you consider when choosing a product research tool?

Every business has a unique product with different requirements, and investing in the wrong tools might end up costing you more time and creating more work than you signed up for.

To ensure you choose the right tool for your product team, consider the following factors:

  • Size and stage of your company and products: a new startup with one product manager might just go for one multi-purpose tool. However, an enterprise with an extensive product team may require a highly-specialized tech stack. Consider the size of your company and where you stand in your product's lifecycle before you make your pick.

  • Features and functionality: understand your product team’s needs and identify gaps and potential problem areas—then find a tool that addresses these gaps and assists time-consuming processes. For example, an easy-to-setup tool (like Hotjar) helps the team collect customer feedback about your product and directly send it to stakeholders for discussion—cutting down time spent on approvals.

  • Usability and integrations: some tools are highly specialized and require a lot of technical prowess to navigate. Consider who will use the tool and the degree of support they might need if the solution you choose is complicated to use. Also, think about the time it’ll take to onboard new and existing team members.

  • Budget: your budget matters no matter how much you need a product research tool or how good it is. Before you even begin your research, understand the budget you have to work with, and prepare a business case for any additional budget.

7 tools to include in your tech stack for effective product research

Product research is a thorough process that brings you closer to your customers and helps you make user-centric decisions about the direction of your product. The more you understand users, the better you can build a product that meets their needs.

The right research tools will complement each stage of the product research journey—from understanding customer needs to getting product feedback on a recent iteration.

Here are seven tools that will make your product research process easier, faster, and full of actionable insights: 

1. Hotjar: study user behavior and get VoC feedback

Hotjar (hi! 👋 ) gives you rich product experience insights to help you understand user behavior and get product feedback in the voice of the customer (VoC). Hotjar is a great way to collect continual feedback throughout your entire product development process.

Here's how:

Hotjar Heatmaps give you an aggregated view of how users interact with your website, and tell you which elements make users click or bounce off through color-coded graphic representations.

Session Recordings offer a play-by-play of how each user interacts with your product. They show you where people click, how much time they spend on a page, and what issues they face along the way.

Hotjar Surveys provide an opportunity to collect users' thoughts and opinions while they’re in your product. You can ask open- or closed-ended questions and offer rating polls (like NPS and CSAT Surveys) to understand how they feel about your product, and how you can improve the experience for them. 

Hotjar's Incoming Feedback widget lets you collect customer feedback in context to better understand what users are thinking or feeling while they use your product. This reliable, fast, and easy-to-understand user feedback better equips you and your team to make user-centric decisions about the direction of your product, and how to delight your customers.

Pro tip: product teams can use Hotjar in every stage of your product research journey. 

Use Hotjar Heatmaps and Session Recordings to collect data on how users react to your product and pinpoint issues they’re facing as they experience each page and feature. You can then use this data to prioritize product iterations or introduce new features to meet user needs.

After you've made changes, use Hotjar Surveys and Incoming Feedback to get first-hand product experience feedback from your users and assess the impact of your product decisions.

2. Zendesk: gather user feedback

Zendesk is a solution for collecting, understanding, and responding to customer feedback. It allows you to connect with customers seamlessly, listen to their problems, create a response plan to address their concerns, and deliver solutions. 

In the product research journey, you want to understand what customers are feeling right now. And the best way to do that: have a conversation with them to hear their feedback and concerns about your product. 

Customer conversations are an integral part of product research because they give you direct insight into your customer’s thoughts and challenges.

Use what you learn from your customers to introduce new and better features, manage iterations, and provide a better product experience.

3. Productboard: research, prioritization, and roadmapping

Productboard is a product management software that helps with task management, understanding users, creating a product roadmap, and prioritizing features. 

Feedback management is a significant feature of Productboard that can one-up your product research process and make it more organized by collecting product insights and customer feedback across all your channels. 

Feedback management lets you interpret all insights from one place rather than gathering research material from different places and bearing the risk of losing out on something important in the process.

4. Airtable: research data management

Unless all your research material is neatly organized in one place, it's difficult to make informed product-related decisions, which can lead to delays or misalignment with visions and goals—dangerous territory.

Airtable can help: it’s like a spreadsheet on steroids, where you can manage your product research data in different cells that can expand into full-fledged databases.

Data management can make research analysis and implementation faster with detailed insights about your product, customer needs, challenges, and stakeholder concerns. 

5. ProductPlan: visualize and communicate strategy

You’ll eventually translate your product research into a product roadmap—an element that highlights your current and future priorities, product vision, workflow, and progress.

Once you cross the product research stage, the roadmap should be your primary focus. While you can use any standard tool for creating a roadmap, native software like ProductPlan will help maintain agility, collaborate with other team members, and address issues efficiently. 

You can customize your roadmap with layouts, lists, and timelines through an easy drag-and-drop interface and tailor it according to your needs. You can also comment and tag your team members within the roadmap to discuss a feature or collaborate to solve issues.

6. Jira: task management

As one of the most popular product management tools, Jira is a must-have for every product team’s tech stack. It smoothes your product journey from prototype to launch and is primarily built for agile product teams to manage their workflow without hassle.

Jira offers over 300+ integrations with top-level software and allows you to be more effective than any standard management software, ensuring you don't miss out on any crucial tasks during product research.

7. Proto.io: prototyping

Building a product is not a ready-to-serve recipe. After research, you can’t build a full-fledged product and release it straight to the market—you need customer validation and feedback at every stage of product development.

So instead, you build a prototype or a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with only basic features, so you can test the waters and see if your product vision will meet the needs of your customers. 

Tools like Proto.io help you build a quick prototype through a drag-and-drop interface to test each feature or product idea based on your product research before launching it for the customers. This enhances research efficiency and helps you offer an incredible product experience.

Keep in mind: product research is just one part of product management. Here are some tools in other product areas that you can use with Hotjar to build an excellent product:

  • User research repositories: use Hotjar to get product experience insights and align it with Productboard to organize data and create a repository of customer information for all major product decisions.

  • Feedback management software: use Hotjar to collect user feedback about your product and align it with UserVoice to analyze and create a plan to act on the feedback.

  • Website analytics software use Hotjar to identify which parts of your website need more work and align it with Google Analytics or Mixpanel to get measurable data on bounce rate, traffic sources, and page session time for improvements.

  • Project management software: use Hotjar to collect quantitative and qualitative data and align it with Jira or Airtable to convert the data into an action plan and workflow for implementation and task assignment.

How to use Hotjar with other tools to maximize research effectiveness

Hotjar is used on over 900,000 websites to get actionable product experience insights and understand user behavior. There’s nothing more authentic than seeing your product from your users' perspective so you can identify improvement areas and create a product they truly love.

Hotjar integrates with many other essential tools to offer you a full-blown product management ecosystem that lets your team create a stunning product for your customers. Here’s how you can use them:

  • Zapier: collect user insights with Hotjar and trigger a series of actions to convert them into actionable steps for implementation.

  • Slack: win stakeholder buy-in for your ideas with this integration, which promotes discussions on customer feedback and survey findings as soon as they’re available.

  • Google Optimize: get user feedback from Hotjar Recordings and instantly A/B test them through Google Optimize to experiment and see what’s working best.

  • Hubspot CRM: connect your sales team with user insights and feedback by presenting Hotjar Surveys on the CRM to allow team members to discuss and address customer concerns quickly.

  • Omniconvert: A/B testing is at the center of successful product development. Gather customer behavior data through Hotjar Recordings and Heatmaps and use the findings to A/B test your features for the best results.

  • Optimizely: get advanced user analytics and feedback through Hotjar tools and the results from A/B testing through Optimizely.

These Hotjar integrations help you optimize your product management efforts and maximize results—making your product research more powerful and impactful with high-end results.

Final thoughts

Product research is a long and often exhausting process. Product research tools unleash the full potential of product management and empower you with the necessary resources to create a product your customers truly love.

Tired of carrying out ineffective manual research?

Hotjar gives you the tools to magnify your product research efforts with user behavior insights. The deeper you know your customers, the more effective your product can be.

FAQs about product research tools