Duncan Moss is the Chief Marketing Officer at an innovative fin-tech firm called Purefy, whose mission is to simplify the student loan refinancing process and empower borrowers (or students and parents) to make smarter financial decisions.
When he arrived, he recognized the importance of Purefy's web presence; prospects were navigating an important and complex topic that can produce feelings of hesitation and apprehension. In addition, Duncan wanted to capture context in how students and parents explore questions about student loan refinancing and and general understanding of student loan refinancing—what questions are top of mind for borrowers and how might Purefy better position itself in the market for growth?
Critically, Duncan wanted to move fast. His team is scrappy and they wanted to experiment with positioning to learn what sticks. He's always been one to talk with customers, read reports on past work, and so was excited to get started with data collection of his own. He chose dscout for its flexible pricing and the combination of tool, recruitment, and researcher support. This gave him the confidence to design, launch, and field his very first remote qual experience study within weeks, not months.
Duncan recruited 25 scouts for his study: borrowers and guardians of borrowers with student loan debt who were interested in refinancinging. The recruitment was fast and Duncan appreciated the ability to ask a video question, which offered a more robust (and nuanced) way to qualify participants than traditional screen-and-grid.
"I was able to get a sense of their story, their voice, and that helped me feel more confident candidates would have meaningful feedback before the longer interviews started."
He used dscout's moderated tool, Live, to conduct long-form interviews with two goals: 1) Uncover context around borrower’s current research and buying process for student loan refinancing, and 2) Share Purefy's current web experience for real-time feedback.
Duncan led each hour-long session, but invited all members of his team—including UX, design, copy, and content—to observe, take notes, and chat with him during the interview. This not only added eyes to a robust set of data, but helped align the team more quickly, which led to faster improvements.
"After about 10 interviews, we heard a few key themes pop up again and again. We held a debrief session, designed a few solutions, and made some language and sequencing changes immediately. The detail and clarity of the feedback gave us the confidence we needed to act quickly."
Over the course of a month, Duncan conducted 25 interviews, collecting invaluable feedback on both the refinancing research process as well as feedback on Purefy's current web presence.
Immediately, the work had a few beneficial effects: First, the interviews offered Duncan an empathic and exclusive look at prospects and important decision-makers in their network (i.e., students' guardians and parents). Duncan mentioned the importance of empathy to his management and decision-making processes:
"Prospects language and questions helped our team build empathy, helping us feel more confident in strategic and day-to-day decisions. In the end, our prospects are the north star."
For a growing company like Purefy, and a growing team within that company, the interviews showcased a chance for the team to align with the prospect and create and pull forward more social proof, security and trust messaging given Purefy’s relative emerging status in the student loan refinancing market.
Second, his team quickly found a few pressing pain-points and began drafting solutions for prospects (another benefit of having UX and design stakeholders on the interviews along with the moderator: faster development).
One of the opportunities focused on a key landing page which was communicating a few different value propositions. Within a week, Duncan's designers had drafted a solution and his UXR created an A/B experiment (they weren't even finished with the interviews yet!).
"That one change, which we noticed early on, resulted in a 36% lift in conversion. We were communicating our message more clearly and our prospects were responding accordingly."
Third, through these robust live interviews Duncan’s team was able to create three comprehensive personas—newbie graduates, experienced refinancers, and parents - full of rich information of how prospects are researching student loan refinancing options, types of questions they are wrestling with, and what criteria (rates, ease of use, timing, etc) are most important.
These personas will drive a full set of marketing initiatives starting with web design, and extending to paid promotional messaging tests, additional advertising placements, and even offer design. Duncan added,”The creation of rich personas from these interviews allows us to share our learnings within Purefy, with our Marketing agency and with other potential partners as we grow our market presence.”
Duncan's team continues to sift through the data for more opportunities to improve Purefy's unique value proposition to meet prospects where they are and support them in the ways they need it. The interviews not only showcased friction points with Purefy's current web experience, it offered a window into the nuance in target segments, how different prospects understand Purefy's value proposition, and even unearthed process or journey information about the ways students and their families search for student loan-related help.
All of this is critical context for Duncan and the wider Purefy team, as they continue to build upon an award-winning student loan refinancing program to support over 40MM students and parents who are part of a societal challenge and deserve the best refinancing education and options in the market today and into the future.