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How to Conduct Customer Research in 4 Steps

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How to conduct customer research in 4 steps

Customer research is the essential basis of your marketing strategy. The data acquired by your research should influence every business decision, and it will allow you to create compelling content that engages your target audience. 34% of people say they have severed communication with a brand after receiving poor, irrelevant, or disruptive marketing messages. Here are the five steps of successful customer research to help you steer clear from making this mistake yourself.
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1. Define the problem & ask questions

How to conduct customer research in 4 steps

It may seem obvious, but identifying your problem is the key to finding the information that you actually need. You must spend time analysing consumers’ needs, and how your products or services can solve them. And in order for that to happen, you need to get better at asking questions.

At this stage, you need to assess what you already know (from previous research of customers and competitors), establish which areas you need to explore further, and which areas you need to start researching from scratch.

By exploring what you think you understand about your customers, you will discover the knowledge gaps that need filling to get the whole picture.

Here are some examples of the basic questions that SMEs and corporate giants alike should be researching to get to grips with their customers’ needs:

● Who is my target audience? Who buys my products already?
● What is their educational background?
● What vertical are they employed in?
● What are their daily challenges?
● What are their lifetime goals?
● What social networks are they active on?
● What other products do they purchase?

From these questions, you can see whether the information you need will be primary (collected and analysed by yourself) or secondary (pre-existing information, collected from sources like newspapers or reports).

2. Collect & record relevant data

There’s a multitude of ways that you can acquire useful data for your business — from analytics and metrics, to surveys and research groups.

Primary data is very useful if you need niche-specific and targeted information that isn’t otherwise addressed by secondary sources. Here are the main ways that you can get hold of primary research data:

● Surveys: Asking your customers or target audience a series of questions to understand how they feel about a product’s features, or about their experience of a particular service, is a great way to find out ways that you can improve your business. Surveys consist of a list of questions, and can be easily shared by phone, email, in person, or posted on a card or paper. Consider using Survey Monkey to set up a quick and easy online survey that you can link your sample members to, enabling them to fill it out in their own time. Surveys are very useful if you want to collect a lot of data from a lot of subjects in a short space of time

● Focus groups: Focus groups are chance for you to bring together a select group of people with a common characteristic or interests, such as age, hobbies, or buying habits. You can get a firm grasp of their likes and dislikes in a focus group and they can prove to be an invaluable way of getting feedback on a new product or ad campaign

● Interviews: Interviews are similar to focus groups, but focus on one person. You can gain a really in-depth insight into how their purchasing mind works, and an understanding of their product preferences. However, interviews can be a laborious, time-consuming and expensive process – and every customer is different!

Secondary sources can give you a broader overview of your target audience, and can also be faster and cheaper to get hold of. While secondary data is not as targeted as primary data, it can offer you very useful insights into your consumers.

● Industry associations, trade groups and journals: These documents are often published quarterly and contain useful industry information, essentially doing the legwork for you

● Government reports like the census or YouGov consumer profiles: These sources are free to use and sample an extremely broad range of people in the UK

● The internet and social media: It’s worthwhile to stay up to date with current affairs in your industry, both online and on social media. Follow relevant hashtags and frequent news sites to see what your potential consumers are talking about

● Your competitors: It is logical to research your competitor’s websites and materials, as they have the same target audience. They may publish useful statistics and reports online, so it is worth reading their blog and social feeds to find relevant resources

All of your research should be well documented and shared among your team to be analysed.

Your next project? Creating buyer personas.

3. Using data to create buyer personas

How to conduct customer research in 4 steps

Buyer personas help you create content and messaging that’s tailored toward a targeted audience. Create a selection of theoretical model customers, and profile their interests, hobbits and purchasing habits. Buyer personas mean that you can personalise your marketing to specific segments of your audience. This saves you from sending the same cold lead emails to all the people in your database – you can split your list into segments and create a template that would appeal to specific groups.

On top of this, buyer personas can assist you in mapping out and creating very targeted content to cater to people at all stages of the buyer journey. The more you know about your customers, the easier it will be to create engaging content for them.

4. Take action – put your findings to the test

You now have all the information that you need at your fingertips. Customer research should feed into your every business decision, from your marketing messages to your UI. Don’t just stop at content — review your whole business strategy in light of what you’ve unearthed during your customer data discovery process.

Have you discovered that your target audience would like more product videos to help them make an informed purchase? You could ensure your products each have their own video embedded on the product description page. Perhaps you have unearthed that your customer base is more active on Facebook, than any other social network? In light of this, you could focus most of your social media efforts and budget on this network to get the most ROI. Even things like your delivery times or the ways that you take payment might need to be reviewed based on customer feedback.

Knowing a lot about your target audience will help you modify your business, and the way that you work, to cater to customer needs, maximising sales and brand loyalty.

Customer research should be ongoing. Your customers’ lives are constantly changing, as are their likes and dislikes. To ensure that you have the most accurate information possible, you should undertake regular research. And remember to ensure that there’s nothing else holding you back from ranking.


Gagareth simpsonreth Simpson – SEO and Startup Founder

Gareth is a seasoned SEO with over a decade of experience. Based in Bristol, Gareth works hard on blogger outreach campaigns and content marketing, with a green tea in hand.



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