How To Perform Market Research On A Budget: 7 Ways To Better Understand Your Customers

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Joseph Welsh at Corporate Momentum, marketing consultant experts for businesses of all sizes. He reached out to BlogMutt and we worked together on this post. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please contact us.


 

Without market research, how can you completely understand your customers? Undertaking effective market research will allow a company to understand how its customers will respond to their service, product or campaign. You can then use the feedback to tweak your service for optimum results

For some companies, it’s just not affordable to be constantly undertaking market research. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to break the bank. We’ll get there.

But first, how else can you gain an understanding of your customer until you can complete some quality market research? The more you understand your customer, the better service you can offer, and ultimately the more profit you will receive.

Before we delve into how to perform market research, here are seven skills you’ll need to be armed with first to understand your customers better.

 

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1. Ask: “Who is the customer?”

Defining who the audience is should be every business’s first step. Make sure you understand your customers’ persona(s): their demographics (their tangible attributes like age, gender and location) and psychographics (their attitudes, values and concerns).

It will mean that you can target your business easier and more accurately.

2. Listen.

It sounds obvious, but listen to what your customers have to say. If you listen to your customer, it’s also going to make them feel more valued. This includes over the phone, email, or face-to-face interaction.

Listening and talking to your customers may give you solutions to how you can improve your product or service. Make sure to engage with your customers on social media. You can avoid those negative complaints online about customers being ignored and neglected simply by listening. Chances are listening will also improve customer loyalty; customers will feel empowered and want to continue using your service.

If you don’t listen to the customer and know what they think, you will have missed opportunities.

3. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.

Is there any better way to truly understand the customer than by actually being the customer? Attempt to get transact with your own company, and you’ll find out what your customers experience.

For a first-hand experience, you could try doing this yourself. However, this isn’t always possible. You can hire a mystery shopper to do the same task. Being the customer will allow you to not only understand your customer more but also make them more relatable. You might even discover problems and solutions that you otherwise would have never found.

4. Diversify.

You understand the diversity of customers, but is your team just as diverse? Having a diverse team will allow you to have insights you otherwise might have missed.

If everyone in your team is of similar demographics, you might not be considering all your customers and options. An open, diverse team will break that tendency.

5. Create empathy.

The customer experience is extremely important. Delivering great service can be the difference between a customer choosing your company or your competitor’s.

A customer wants to feel like they’ve been heard, valued and understood. If you can create empathy, it will greatly improve the customer service experience. Customers will remember this, and reward you as a result.

6. Use data.

Data can hold critical insights into consumer behaviour and their experience. Data can let you know demographics, such as age and gender. But it can also show you actions, i.e. how long a customer spent on a website, what they’re buying, what they’re interested in, and at what point they left the website.

These invaluable insights and hard numbers can help you to alter your website, create a better customer experience and result in customers spending longer on the website or purchasing more.

7. Attend events.

This will not only give a face to your business, but also give you the opportunity to meet the customer face-to-face and create a conversation. This gives the customer the opportunity to ask you questions, whether positive or negative. It is a great opportunity to learn about the wants and needs of your customers. You can, and should, take this feedback and constructive criticism and alter your business appropriately.

 

4 Necessary, Cheap Tools To Conduct Market Research 

Now, the necessary four, cheap tools you can use to do market research without going over budget.

 

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1. Google Trends

This tool, as the name suggests, shows trending topics on Google. It is a free way to discover what your market is looking for.

It will allow you to compare different keywords and concepts using real-life data straight from Google’s database (one of the most valuable in the world!). You can search for competing brands, what topics your audience is searching for, and what products or services attract the biggest consumer demand.

2. User Testing

User testing will give you insight into your own website—what’s working and what’s not. Using the analysis data, you can optimise your website to raise conversion rates and ultimately profit.

There are a few websites you can use, including:

3. Surveys

Data at arm’s length can only tell you so much. Sometimes the better option is to interact with your audience directly. Surveys are a cheap, easy way to reach your target market and receive feedback. There are numerous free survey websites which you can use, such as:

HubSpot teamed up with SurveyMonkey to produce an online content strategy survey template, with built-in questions to get you started. This will help boost your online content marketing strategy, or help serve as inspiration for questions to include in your own surveys.

4. Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn—they’re all there for you to use and connect, and all completely free. You can ask questions on Facebook and Twitter and get free feedback. LinkedIn is great for discussions, and it boasts thousands of groups on different topics. Join a group, ask questions and get to know the members. This is an easy, free way to gain an insight into your clientele.

Understanding your customers can be a difficult thing. Implementing the right market research tools will help you to know your customers and improve your business.

Now onto two prime examples who leveraged their market research into some pretty amazing results.

 

2 Companies Who Did Their Market Research Right

There are a few companies who have used market research to their advantage, have gotten to know their customers, and thus reaped huge rewards.

 

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1. Lego

Lego used to be a toy brand that was primarily geared towards boys. The company conducted a study, which showed only 9% of primary users of the toy were female.

Then, Lego undertook an extensive four-year study which involved 4,500 girls and their mothers. The company studied their playing habits to find out what would make Lego more interesting and appealing as a toy to girls. In 2012, the company introduced the “Lego Friends” line, which became a huge hit with their female consumers.

As a result, Lego saw a 28% growth on end-year sales from the previous year, which they credit to their “Lego Friends” and “Disney Princess” lines. The company has continued to listen to their fans, as seen by the 2014 “Research Institute Kit”, which features women in various STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs.

2. Apple

It’s hard not to mention the biggest brand of 2015, Apple. While it’s hard to argue they’re the most innovative company, it’s clear that what they do is listen to customers.

Apple uses market research to find out exactly what their customers want, and then work to make that desire a reality. Apple even had a market research focus group called “Customer Pulse.” This was an online community of people who provide input on various issues and subjects relating to Apple. The only way to join Customer Pulse was through invitation. Those who owned Apple products and completed a survey would then be emailed an invitation to join. Those who joined would be emailed up to two surveys per month.

Having online surveys means you can analyse data faster and with less effort. That means there is more time to alter products, and as a result, increase profit and deliver products to ease your customers’ pain points.

 

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