Customer Research

Good marketing starts with knowing your customer - and knowing your target audience starts with good customer research. This can take a range of forms but essentially, it's finding ways to talk directly to those who may want to buy your product and picking their brains. 

The 'what's' and 'why's'...

Turning to your customers directly helps you explore behaviors and motivations. This can be about your brand as a whole, a specific product, or more general topics like your industry or space your company inhabits with. What are they looking for? What do they like currently about what's on the market or what you have to offer? What don't they like? When you are able to understand your customers better, you can directly target goods and services that will fulfill their needs, which leads to an increased chance of sales. 

Customer Research

Types of customer research...

There are many forms of customer research but the following three are the most common, each with its own benefits:

1. Focus Groups

Small groups of customers or people who fit your target demographic (or at times a wide range of demographics to see where your product will land best) are brought together for a group discussion. This is a great way to gage your customer's preferences and attitudes and is a low-cost option. Focus groups are relatively easy to conduct with fast results that produce data directly from the mouths of your potential buyers. Because it is an 'in-person' option, you not only get verbal responses but can also track body language and facial cues for a deeper and more honest understanding. 

2. Surveys 

Chances are you have participated in a number of surveys as a consumer. They are the most common method companies use to figure out what customers are thinking about their brand, service, and products. Most commonly provided to existing customers, surveys can also be used to poll a group of potential customers as well. They provide a quick and easy way to collect feedback and typically have a large sample size, which leads to a higher response rate than in-person feedback. They are simple and fast for the participants to complete BUT they can provide inaccurate answers since you aren't there to help respondents fully understand the questions, accurately record the answers, or ask probing questions to get to the heart of the data you would like. That's why it is important to send your survey to a wider range of people than you think you need, to account for lower response rates and incomplete information. You should also ask a range of questions or event repeat similar questions in different ways if a particular data point is vital to your search. 

3. Phone Calls

Phone calls are the median options between in-person focus groups and hands-off surveys. They allow a degree of connection with your subjects, while still being relatively quick and non-intrusive. The caller receives information quickly and directly from the mouths of their consumers, with the option to ask further questions when clarification is needed. There is generally a good response rate and ease of implementation, although personal phone calls are time-consuming and therefore cost more to complete. It can also be difficult to reach people or to find those who are willing to talk openly about their opinions. 

There are a variety of factors that go into choosing a specific type of research and sometimes you need to choose more than one avenue to collect the data you need. It is important to look at the information you are trying to gain from your consumers, how personalized you want the responses to be, and your overall budget when deciding on which route to take. 

TDG Marketing has over twenty years of experience completing quality customer research on our clients' behalf. Reach out for a free one-hour consultation. We can decide together what's best for your business and complete the process for you, from start to finish. 

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