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How do we know what features to work on next for Buffer?

A few months ago, we had the opportunity to test out a method of investigating which types of social accounts Buffer users would be most interested in using next.

Here’s the tool we used to find out which type of account was most-wanted, and how we followed up with everyone who sent us a request.

What we did

Here’s our current Connect page: Accounts page The Connect page didn’t always look like this, however. Just a few months ago several of these options—like Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Pages—were not available to users.

Rather than hiding the unsupported options, we decided to display a disabled button that, when hovered, would reveal two new options:

1. Learn More – A quick link to an entry on our FAQ page explaining why that particular account type was not available
2. Notify Me – Clicking this button logged the user’s email address in our database as “interested in X account”

Here’s an example of how this looks for Google+ Profiles (which, unfortunately, are still unsupported in third party apps):

Tooltip

What happened

This tooltip worked wonders on our end in two dimensions:

We proactively answered questions that users had by linking directly to our FAQ page, where we provided more details about why we didn’t offer support for that particular account type.

The ‘Notify Me’ button allowed us to log the email address of every interested user so that when we were finally able to build out these integrations, we’d have an ultra-targeted email list to use.

Not long ago we rolled out support for Facebook Groups for Buffer. Thanks to our handy little ‘Notify Me’ button, we had aggregated a list of 1,650 email addresses of users interested in using Groups. We emailed these people and saw the following results:
1,650 email sent
Open Rate: 70%
Clickthrough Rate: 18.7%

Not too bad.

Making this work for your startup

If you’re on the fence about what feature to build next for your product, this method is a super lean way of tracking interest so that you can get a more accurate gauge of what is important to your users.

I wouldn’t go overboard with this—after all, having lots of these notifications scattered around your product might make it look incomplete. But for smaller product improvements or hypothesis testing, this is a really easy way to make informed decisions.

Have you experimented with ways to test the demand for new features? I’m always interested in learning more and improve our processes. Feel free to share in the comments!

P.S. Want to be part of building awesome new stuff at Buffer? We’re looking for a Product Designer right now!

This post originally appeared on my personal website, brianlovin.com. I write often about design, startups, and technology, and I’d love to connect with you!

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Written by Brian Lovin
  • Beth

    Great idea! Now if only Pinterest would play ball and provide API info so you can integrate that, too. :-)

  • Andy Bradbury

    Very slightly off topic, what do you use for your tooltips? They’re really nice, just what I’m looking for on a website i’m building right now.

  • Daniel Gdowski

    Random kinda far-out question – can you query any of these social channel API’s with emails? a “hit” on that might help you build some numbers on what other channels most of your customers are using which would help you determine priority on adding new channels.

  • Nicole Graves

    Very nifty! Great idea, simple yet elegant implementation, producing efficient results that allow real user validation. Love it!

  • Kevin Ndung’u

    Explains why I tried connecting my G+ page numerous times with no success. Didn’t know individual profiles were not supported. Useful feature

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