There are billions of dollars spent by companies around the world to find out the behavior of their customers, both potential and present. Companies do consumer research because they want to find out the motivation of a customer, their likes and dislikes, the reason behind their affinity towards a brand and apathy towards another. Using the results from the consumer research survey, companies create behavior profiles which unearth their purchasing behavior.
This information can be used to make changes in the offerings by the company thus making it more in tune towards what customers want. In simple terms, such a consumer research helps improve the business, its products, increases sales and therefore, the bottom-line of the company.
Objectives Of Conducting A Consumer Research
When a company works on a new product that is about to be introduced to the market, they want to know how the product can be made better or some chunks reduced to make it totally optimized for a customer. Such a consumer research exercise can also help businesses discover how they can introduce one more product or offer another service that will help your present customers.
The objective of consumer research is to find methods to improve the sales of the product/service by looking into various aspects of how customers behave, why they behave that way, how packaging affects their buying patterns, why a certain set of customers buy a particular brand, what turns off a potential customer, attributes that can be added to sell the product better and more.
These are some of the areas where consumer research comes in very handy.
- Existing businesses can find new customer segments and newer markets where they can sell their products and services using consumer research surveys. Talking to customers and getting an idea of what they think can help a long way in understanding why these customers behave in a certain way. By conducting consumer research, brands can identify their target market based on various demographic factors. It can also be used to customize the marketing and branding approach based on the various customer segments.
- When a company launches a new product, it can use consumer research to find out the demand for the product, study their competition and understand the most optimal methods to market. Conducting thorough consumer research provides you valuable feedback about the various attributes and features of the products and services that it must carry. This is where consumer research provides a solution based on the expectations and needs of the consumer.
- A good consumer research activity helps you find out what your customers think about you. Not only does it help you keep grounded but it acts as a compass to direct you better. In fact, you can also see if your product or service is ready to be accepted by the market. You can find out if the market is mature enough to be the recipient of your product.
- Use consumer research feedback and inculcate the learnings from it in the annual or quarterly plan.
That said, here’re the top 10 consumer research tips that will help you give the best results:
1. Understand Your Potential Customer
There could be nothing more basic than this, if you don’t understand the needs and requirements of a customer, you can never serve them properly. Use different types of research and the existing data to find out why they behave the way they do. Make it a point to understand what motivates them to operate in a particular way.
2. Decide The Sources For Your Research
To get both qualitative and quantitative insights, it is imperative that you choose the right tools and resources. Asking questions to SME (Subject Matter Experts), consultants, industry specialists, directors, managers, and other C-suite executives will help you glean a lot of information. As a part of the secondary research, you can use information that is available on different online portals, official government websites paid sources from research companies and other reliable sources.
3. Create A Buyer Persona
A buyer persona is an ideal customer for you who has a certain set of characteristics, demographics and so on. This will also include what they expect from you, what problems they want you to solve and how they plan to use your product. The reason behind creating buyer personas is because you cannot target everyone, there will be people in your target market who will be the best possible option as a potential customer for you based on certain habits. You should find at least 3-4 buyer personas who are your ideal customers and use their characteristics to target them appropriately.
4. Ask The Right Questions To Your Sources
You need to ask the right questions to the sources that we have mentioned in the above post so that you can get information that makes business sense. Remember that the way in which C-suite executives consume information and other stakeholders consume would be completely different. This is why it is important to have a varied set of sources which will not only give you a lot of perspectives, it adds value in different ways. It will also make you understand the kind of information that is privy to only a select few.
Using surveys, focus groups, questionnaires, online surveys, etc, are some of the examples of qualitative research that provides you with actionable answers that help you understand the patterns of your customers. Qualitative research usually asks for a lot of detail.
While the data that you get from quantitative research only helps you identify general trends, it helps you identify broad trends within the data that you have received. Quantitative questions use radio buttons, check boxes, Likert scales and so on. For example, using an online survey tool like Survey Sparrow is an example of quantitative research, it helps you with quantifiable information like how many people completed the survey, the ratings they gave for each question and so on.
5. Use Your Competitor’s Data Wisely
Knowing who your competitors are is the first step towards identifying what they do wrong and the things they do which need to be replicated for your business success. Use the right keywords using which you want your potential customers to find out your competitors. Observe the first 3 pages on Google search, choose a few companies and see the entire paradigm of activities that they do to reach out to their customers and make good business. You will also be able to find a lot of content that they have created which you can also use to build your own set of content in the form of blogs, videos, interviews, white papers, reports and so on.
6. Build A Community For Your Products
Building a community revolving around your products and services is probably the best thing that you can do, but it is immensely difficult to develop and build a community. Creating a community means you have to serve the customers in the community in such a way that their queries will be solved immediately. Having such a community makes it immensely easy to conduct consumer research. In fact, the best results for a consumer research survey will come from this particular group as people from a community are much more engaged than normal. It reduces the time taken to research or finding the right set of people because they are already there as a part of the community.
Contact people in your email list and request them to be a part of the community, you can either host it on a Facebook or Slack group or on your website itself. Use existing groups to create awareness about your business and leverage it to create a community for you.
7. Offer Incentives To Be A Part Of The Survey
While it is important to offer some sort of incentive for people who are willing to be a part of your consumer research, money is not always the best incentive. There are a lot of clever incentives that you can use as a giveaway which will be a win-win for both the parties. Try offering discounts, free consultation, free usage of the product for a few days, and more. The little extra that you offer will be the impetus behind people completing the surveys. Offer complementary products and services as well, which you can offer as an extra compensation for their time.
8. Use A Conversational Tone
Remember just one thing, people are extremely happy to talk to another human being over a machine. This is why even if they are using a machine to respond to your survey, it is still imperative that the questions be written in such a manner that it is in the form of a conversation. If the survey is in the form of everyday conversation, people are much enthused to reply to it. Using such a format will also help you to form a ‘connection’ with them. Communicate with them in a language and context that they will find it easy to respond to.
9. Ensure That The Survey Is Attractive
Concentrating on something as simple as making the survey attractive will increase the response to the survey. The survey design is more than just colors and using fancy buttons. There are so many factors to make surveys work, including survey time, making it work on all devices, using different types of visual aids on the survey, etc, that increase the attractiveness quotient of the survey.
10. Don’t Call It A ‘Consumer Research Survey’
Of course, you are sending a survey, but it is best advised not to message that way. Call your survey something else other than a survey or a market research or a consumer survey. Tell the customer that you are looking for advice. Here are some of the alternatives you could use:
“We would like to pick your brain”
“Here is what we would like to ask you”
“We are looking for advice from you”
The above three are just examples that you can expand on. Do your own thing and make it right!
Step-by-step Guide To Carry Out A Consumer Research Survey
Step #1: Define The Outcome Of The Research
Find out a highly measurable outcome that you would like to achieve as a part of the consumer research. For example, you might want to know if your target audience is open to the fact that your product comes with only a specific set of features and for each extra tier of features, there is a separate payment required. After the research, you might come to know that your potential customers would rather have just three plans to choose from and not a plethora of options that would confuse them. Having a clearly defined goal helps you to select the correct sample for the survey.
Step #2: Identify Target Audience
The kind of relationship that you share with the audience that you are going to target in the consumer research survey is also important. Are these your existing paying customers? Are these your customers who use the free version of your product? Have they shown interest in your product earlier? Is this going to be a cold email sprint? Is this from an email list that you randomly purchased from a third-party or you have nurtured them over the years by providing free information? Are these your subscribers? You might want to segment these customers of yours on a different basis as your messaging needs to change accordingly.
Step #3: Draft The Survey
The next step after deciding on who to target is drafting the right questions for the consumer research, this includes choosing the right question types, phrasing the questions, choosing the order in which the questions are going to be presented and so on. Getting this right makes a lot of difference in the outcome of this exercise. A logical flow of questions to your customers can bring out the best results. Do not ask complex questions that the average customer might not be able to understand. Run the survey questions and the flow to a few of the stakeholders who would be able to better qualify its effectiveness.
Step #4: Have A Survey Distribution Plan
Gone are the days when distributing the survey means giving out paper questionnaires, sitting with the respondent and waiting until they complete the survey. Today, the best method to do a survey that offers the highest and most relevant responses are email surveys. Not only is sending out email surveys best to scale the surveys, but it also comes at zero cost unless you are using a tool which will only help you to smoothen the process.
Use a subject line for the benefit of the customer. Use clear CTAs at the end of the survey and the copy should be written in such a manner that it enthuses the respondent to give highly valuable inputs.
Step #5: Collate The Data
After designing the survey and using an online survey tool like SurveySparrow, the next step is to collect the data (which happens automatically on the app). You can even sign up with the free version of SurveySparrow to check out how it works and see if it assists with your requirements.
Step #6: Analyzing The Data
After collected data using the online survey tool, the next step is to analyze the data and see what the customers have actually tried to tell you. The online survey software for consumer research usually comes with a dashboard that has different capabilities in which you can analyze and view the data. It can show the significance of the responses and a simple glance can help collect a lot of information that can be used to make changes in the business.
Step #7: Take Action On The Feedback Received
The most important step is to take action based on the feedback that you have received from your customers. If there are areas that need to be evaluated and worked on immediately, then do not hesitate. Make plans to work on the most pressing issues at hand. If you are averse to making small changes, fret not, there is the option to take incremental steps so that it doesn’t affect the overall working of your business/product/service. Once you make changes, go back to your customers and tell them based on the inputs you received from them, you have made changes. This will help your customers believe in you and your business more.
Consumer research is one of the most effective elements in your marketing strategy and when rightly used, the kind of effect it can have is multifold. Now that we have established how important consumer research is and how you can do one as well along with tips on optimizing it, you should help your business by doing the same. Since you will be looking for a good online survey tool using which you can distribute the survey, check out SurveySparrow and use it to get highly insightful ideas to improve your business problem.
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