Improving Cotopaxi’s Questival Onboarding

Caden Damiano
7 min readApr 10, 2019

Research and Content Strategy Case Study

Role(s): Freelancer, Product Strategy, UX Designer.

Team of 3: A visual designer, a UI designer, and Me.


This project was brought to my content strategy class from the Cotopaxi’s VP of Field Marketing, Seth King. He gave us a very brief to audit for ways we could improve the customer experience of Questival, Cotopaxi's adventure race.

Here is what we learned

While waiting for our client contact for Cotopaxi to get back to us, we wanted to get an overall feel of the customer sentiment of the Questival event.

Social Media Sentiment Analysis

Using a qualitative customer analytics tool called Unbird, we aggregated over 139 social media posts from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to look for keywords and reoccurring themes across these posts.

Fingers on the pulse…

With everything charted, we noticed that the Questival brand was perceived as an adventure scavenger hunt where you can hang out with your friends.

Good job Cotopaxi, branding mission accomplished!

The top reoccurring themes in the social posts was that the biggest form of value gained from Questival was an opportunity to do fun activities with family and friends over a 24 hour period.

Kudos again to Cotopaxi’s marketing team, there “Collect Moments, not Things” catchphrase obviously sticks!

Surprisingly, things that the brand plug heavily on their website and branding like, social good and swag don’t carry as much sway to sell the event. I’m sure it is a plus that Cotopaxi is a social good corporation, and it’s a plus to get a backpack with your ticket purchase but it seems like (keyword: seems I’m not drawing any conclusions) that the big draw to the event is creating memorable moments with your close friends. Which is cool, and needs to be doubled down on.

Questival Feedback Analysis

After getting the broad insights from the initial social sentiment data, we keep an eye out for similar patterns across 111 of reviews on the Questival site.

83.78% percent of the reviews cited that customers have had a great experience at Questival, with 18.92% of the reviews citing criticisms and feedback on the challenges. This is since 2014 to December 2018.

The majority of reviews followed a similar sentiment to social research. With big praise for the opportunity to spend time with friends and do fun activities.

The third most common sentiment was the questions about what to do after buying tickets.

We found multiple hints of confusion on what to do between buying a ticket and the day of the event.

We found that interesting, so we looked at a sample of data from
Feb 1st, 2017 to Feb 1st, 2019 to look for any patterns related to these themes. We did the most recent year-to-date because we are assuming Cotopaxi has improved and updated the event over the last 5 year they have been in business.

Blue spikes indicate events months. We see Orange spikes leading up to the events.

Blue spikes indicate events months. We see Orange spikes leading up to the events. Even though it doesn’t seem like a huge spike, so let’s put those questions into perspective.

Questival Question Analysis

We also found over 116 questions on the Questival site in addition to the 111 reviews. So we took those 116 questions and looked for questions that address the phase of the customer journey between buying a ticket and going to the event. We called the theme, “Onboarding”.

60.34% of the questions address customer onboarding. 31.03% is to confirm the date of the event.

60.34% of the questions address customer onboarding. 31.03% is to confirm the date of the event.

More than half the questions that Cotopaxi’s customer service reps address is about onboarding. So a large portion of the customer service reps time is spent clarifying what to do after you buy a ticket.

Saving money

Let’s consider this if a customer service rep makes $13.64 an hour, and works full time, and 60% of their time answering onboarding questions, you are spending

(($13.64 Per Hour x 160 Hours Per Month) x 12 Months) x .6 Sixty Percent of their time. = $15,713.28 per year

If you are hiring 2 customer service reps, That’s $31,426.56 per year spent on answering onboarding questions. That's just being conservative!

What if we could reduce that number?

Stagnated Growth

A rough diagram of Questivals growth over the 5 years it has been a thing.

Above is a rough diagram of Questivals growth over the 5 years it has been a thing.

After 3 years, there has been a plateau in growth, and after making some improvements, there was a 1500 customer growth by year 5. But now it has been returning to another plateau. Here’s our assumption.

There are a couple of reasons why growth stagnates, one is you hit a ceiling on PPC ad spend and need to spend more on media buying.

The other thing is that the low hanging fruit is tapped out. So the customers who naturally resonate with the brand are tuned into the event.

It could be both! We don’t know, but here’s another thing to consider, another thing we saw in our research is there people who don’t have a team but want to do the event, so they go on social and try to look for teammates.

Imagine being someone who isn’t the traditional outdoorsy customer, maybe someone who is a homebody, but want’s to get out of their comfort zone.

The current onboarding experience puts a lot of the work on the customer to set up their teams and does a poor job at reducing uncertainty. For the naturally adventurous customer, that's all good! But for the homebody who is trying to stretch themselves, this event looks like too much work!

We think Cotopaxi is leaving a ton of money on the table by not be accessible to those non-traditional and underserved demographics of the outdoor apparel business.

What if we could increase that number?

Proposed Solution

With the proposed scope of the project, we elected to improve the onboarding flow in the Questival app so we can:

  • Reduce customer service spending.
  • Increase accessibility to a new customer base who are not traditionally inclined to an adventure race and increase revenue and eyeballs on the event.

See our scope document here


The next step was to personify the people we would be targeting for the event. We would use these artifacts for the final presentation with the Cotopaxi team.

A couple of the personas are not the typical customer of the Questival. Sure they are interested in the idea of it, but because of the uncertainty, they might elect not to go.

Auditing the Current Screens

In the app, even though they address the functionality to a certain extent, the onboarding elements do only a “band-aid” solution fix with the reoccurring complaints about the uncertainty the app brings.

After our initial audit, the app was updated to better reflect the gaps in experience for onboarding. Still, these fixes only slow the bleeding down, we have an opportunity to create repeat customers by doing this one step further.

We looked at some of the onboarding screens for the Questival app…

This is our screen by screen audit of the onboarding experience. We noticed we could chunk the information differently…

And we decided that some of the information could be chunked into manageable bites of information to progressively disclose what a customer needed to know when they first opened the app.

Whiteboard Solutions

We thought about the key information prompts that get someone up to speed on the event and listed them out. We then got the idea of following an “onboarding card” interaction model that is trending today.

We started listing the information that needed to be communicated to a user and we then thought we should do onboarding cards like the dribble example on the right…

Screen Designs

These following screens will be inserted when a user opens the app for the first time…

We hope with the screens, there is an opportunity to explain the game mechanics and drive more competition.


We anticipate that the onboarding screens will reduce the need for customer support questions for the Questival app by 60% by addressing the most commonly asked questions about the app.

Wrap up

We presented this solution to the CMO and his team at Cotopaxi HQ in April 2019.

It had a solid reception and we had discussions about continuing work, but I accepted my job at Progressive Leasing at the time and had to decline. We passed off our brief and the sketch files for them to run with and ended the engagement.

In the short term, we feel like these cards a focused effort to improve the onboarding experience with the resources Cotopaxi has right now. As time goes by, future iterations should have better experiences in the granular details of the app.

Even though it is an improvement, these screens are still a bandaid, for the time being, a more high-quality band-aid.

Because just saying “poke around and get familiar with the app” isn't an onboarding strategy at scale. ⬇️



Caden Damiano

Host of “The Way of Product Design” Podcast owner of "The Way of Product" Innovation Studio