We recently sat down with The Nudge Co-Founder & CEO, John Peterson, to discuss building a product for personalization and realizing that wasn’t necessarily what customers wanted. It’s a great lesson on the importance of listening to customers and not assuming you know what they want and need.

John Peterson and Christina Lucey chatted about personalization vs. community products and how The Nudge has adapted to meet its customers where they’re at since the inception of the company. You can listen to the full episode of Product Talk above or catch the highlights below.

On why the nudge works

Great product managers listen to their customers. John Peterson had this to say for every person who says customers won’t try something new.

“Throughout the history of the company I’ve found that users are incredibly willing to try out new stuff – in fact, a lot of them really look forward to it.”

On why personalization in products isn’t always the answer

The Nudge built its lifestyle planner friend with personalization in mind. However, they found out that wasn’t what their customers actually wanted.

“[Personalization] was something people always asked for, which is why we made it, but once we created it for people, most of the people who got it said they didn’t want it anymore.

There’s something in human nature that drives us to want as many choices as possible but choices are ultimately a barrier to action.”

On how to be a bit of both in the battle of personalization vs. community products

The Nudge has managed to keep the community feeling, while still seeming to offer some level of personalization.

“They way we have adapted to [deliver personalization] without destroying the community is to do what we call macro personalization which is if we think this nudge won’t be relevant to 60% of people at least, we will build in a menu.”

On the tools behind the product

The Nudge works independently of its app, but just don’t call it a bot.

“The idea of not having a platform and just making decisions for people really, really worked. Our engagement in terms of click-through and retention was off the charts … only about a fifth of our users has the Nudge app.

‘Bot’ is kind of a dirty word at The Nudge. A bot is trying to guess what you’re trying to say and pretending to be open-ended and analog. Something it’s not. To do that and still come across as a friend is not possible and not necessary.”

About the speaker
John Peterson The Nudge, CEO Member

John Peterson is the CEO of The Nudge, which is a planner friend in your pocket. He studied computing and economics at UCLA and began his career as a growth analyst for American Airlines, helping them understand the behaviors of university students. He has since built and sold a financial portfolio generating tool called 9 Financial and spent several years as a growth consultant and freelance growth hacker. Three years ago, he founded The Nudge with his sister.

About the host
Christina Lucey Podcast Host

Christina is a product leader with a passion for crafting. After six internships and four years studying computer science at the University of Waterloo, she found product management. After a few years of building a foundation in execution, she launched her first product at BlackBerry in 2011. Since then she been hooked on crafting new digital things ever since. Her efforts on growth and mobile helped propel Yammer towards acquisition. Following that, Christina headed up product at early stage companies twice. Currently she’s at Credit Karma where she is the leader for new product initiatives. When she’s not crafting products or podcasting, you can find her reading, cooking, working on her fitness, or channeling her inner Martha Stewart.

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