5 Simple Ways to Conduct Customer Research

YO! Marketing customer research with Facebook for business

Many businesses start with a good idea. The idea is exciting and you usually can’t wait to start making sales! But hang on. How do you know who your customers are? It won’t be everyone so you need customer research.

Customer research is a key part of building a business plan

Customer research allows you to develop a deep understanding of who your ideal customer is. Knowing your ideal customer means you can design the right sales and marketing strategies. This post will highlight a few simple ways that you can conduct customer research for your business:

Social media

Social media makes it easy to find out information about people and brands. You could spend some time researching keywords related to your business. On Twitter, you could search for hashtags and find the people who use them. Tools like Hashtagify can help find related hashtags as well as their popularity. Start following relevant people and brands. Use the hashtags in your posts to build an audience.   Another research tool is Facebook Ads manager which has an audience insight dashboard. It’s typically for creating ads, but it is also a great resource for research.   Say you want to be a horse riding instructor. On the Ads manager screen below, you might look for people with an interest in horse riding. The insights show you the gender mix, age, marital status, typical job titles (incidentally, 36% are in Sales!) etc.  You could get more detailed by adding more complexity. Use the information you gather to build a customer profile.

69% of people with an interest in horse riding are women, Facebook Audience Insight, Feb 23, 2017


Your competitors’ websites are a good source of information. These websites often have an existing client list that you could research, learning more about what your ideal customer could look like. Researching your competitors also gives you an idea of what your unique selling point might be. For instance, as a website designer, are you the cheapest, the most hi-tech or do you offer ongoing support that some of your competitors might not offer? Take time to understand what each of your main competitors offer. Compare that to the customer needs you seek to fulfil. The more detail you have, the most clearly you will see your ideal customer.

Offline research

Offline engagement such as events, conferences are valuable for research. While there are a ton of online resources for research, don’t neglect traditional methods of interacting. Events held in your industry and/or your area could be a huge opportunity to meet your potential customers. Find out the key events, and try to attend a few. Before you attend, have an idea of the kind of questions you want answers to. Start with general questions like, “What do you like the most about your current phone line provider?” Rather asking if they would switch to a new service you are offering. The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick is a great book that teaches how you might approach customer research. It works for situations when you’ve just bumped into someone and you are making small talk.

Online tools 

For instance, YouGov has a wealth of data. Anyone can access the free version. You simply select an interest, and YouGov will show you the typical persona with those interests. Let’s go back to the horse riding instructor. Using YouGov Profiles Lite, you can search for people with an interest in horse riding. YO! Marketing customer research YouGov

Easily search for “horse riding” as an interest of your target customers

YouGov then shows me the persona of a typical horse riding enthusiast. You get information on demographic, lifestyle, personality, favourite brands etc. It’s interesting how it corroborates and builds on the data from Facebook Ads manager. Truly a great resource! YO! Marketing customer research YouGov horse riding girl

YouGov profile: Women aged 18-24 who work in home and gardens, real estate, energy and utilities, Feb 23, 2017

Family and friends

Your family and friends are often our first stop for customer research but it is often not the most reliable indication of whether you understand your ideal customer. Your family and friends don’t want to hurt your feelings, so they tend to say what they think you want to hear.   Still, this is a good start. They can provide a good steer if you ask the right questions. Instead of asking, “Would you buy from my jewellery range?” You could ask who their favourite jewellery designers are and what they love about them. Ask what they believe is missing from the product or service. This way, your customer research becomes more reliable and unbiased.

We originally published a version of this post on http://relocateguru.io on 02 March 2017

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