I have been traveling more lately, which is great because I love getting out to see my customers in their natural environment, but not so great because it involves a lot of time on airplanes. My favourite thing to do to pass the time is listen to my podcasts. For the few days leading up to a trip, I'll refrain from listening to ‘Reply All’, ‘Freakonomics’ or ‘Start Up’ and save them up to get me through a long flight. Naturally, I couldn't resist listening immediately when Serial was on the air: my self discipline has its limits.

My fondness for podcasts serves as a reminder that the most tangible, the most resonant way for us to consume and retain information is in story format. This is as true for data as it is for anything else.

At a high level, the user’s journey through your app is the main plot. And that plot hinges on what we talk about as an ‘aha’ moment, or a ‘sticky point’. What is the moment or experience that reveals the core value proposition to your users?

This 'aha' moment is generally a combination of ‘high value actions’. Obviously, a purchase is the clearest example of a high value action, but your app likely has others - inviting friends to the app, uploading content, providing reviews, completing their profile by uploading a photo.  A moment’s thought and you probably know what your high value actions are.  

Every Campaign Tells A Story

But getting a little deeper, each of your campaigns is a story in itself. The conflict that every story needs may be a high churn rate, or low conversions to paying users. Your goal is to find a resolution to that conflict and pull together the threads like a master novelist!

Perhaps you have an app which relies on users to upload content for others to consume. In order to help users get to this high value action, you'll A/B test different messages to encourage them. And we select what to test, and which variants to put in a test, by speculating about our characters motivations.

You're not sure if your users are shy, and need a gentle nudge, or if they're worried you'll post their content on social media. You try messages of gentle cheerleading, messages of challenge, and reassurance in the form of information about where their content will and will not be posted, or reassurance in the form of peer statistics.

Each of these options is a different response to our speculations. When we see one work in a test environment, we are able to tell the story: we begin to understand why users behaved the way they did, and the changes we make to our app - and the results we see, can be understood in the context of that narrative. That’s really powerful - and is bound to capture the attention of the rest of your team!