How well do you know your customers? Do you know what motivates them? What keeps them up at night? What does their dream role look like? What would make their lives easier?
Knowing what makes your customers tick is imperative for any business looking to leave its mark on the world.
When you conduct consumer research, you gain access to a plethora of data and insights you can then use to scale your business. Launching new products, designing your website, writing a newsletter, and fine-tuning your sales pitch are all examples of processes you can optimize with consumer research.
Imagine you’re going to give the speech of your career. You don’t step onto stage, not really knowing what you’ll say, with notes scribbled on your arm.
Instead, you would have rehearsed it, practiced with an audience, and gathered and implemented feedback. Perhaps you would have even put a deck together and refined it with the help of your team; writers, experts, designers, and more.
All of that work that goes into a speech is similar to the amount of consumer research your business should do before taking any action.
In this article, I’ll explain why customer research is so vital, and how to conduct customer research in six different ways.
Why is consumer research so important?
When you conduct consumer research, you gain deep insight into your target customers’ needs, preferences, challenges, and behaviors.
You develop a strong understanding of who they are, what they do, and what they need.
These insights are vital for strengthening the success of your business and maintaining a competitive advantage within your industry.
Here are some of the key reasons why consumer research is so important for your business.
1) It helps you make better decisions
Every decision your business makes needs to be well-informed. When you understand the reason why you do things, you’ll be able to make better, more strategic decisions that have a positive impact on your business.
Using consumer research in your decision-making process will ensure your decisions are based on fact, not assumptions.
Consumer research can guide your business strategy by helping you identify the best next moves on your journey to the top. It also reduces the risks of your decisions. You’ll have concrete evidence for why something should (or shouldn’t) be done.
Consumer research is valuable for businesses of all shapes and sizes, from small, direct-to-consumer brands to multinational business-to-business corporations.
Whether you’re developing a new product, adding a new feature to a tool, or adopting more sustainable practices, consumer research will help you find the best path forward.
2) It prevents avoidable mistakes
Everything you do in business comes with a price tag, whether in the form of opportunity cost or actual financial investment.
That means every action you take for your business must be strategic and thought-out. Instead of relying on luck, you must gather the information you need to refine your decision-making process.
Thankfully, consumer research can prevent updates or changes that fall flat with your customers. It can reveal seemingly good ideas that would harm the business, such as changing one of your buyers’ favorite features, or wasting time adding something no one actually wants.
Use consumer research to determine which projects are worth investing in, which changes will have the most positive impact on your business, and which initiatives will end in disaster.
You’ll learn exactly what your consumers want from you as a brand, so you’ll be less likely to make mistakes by rushing into things based on a gut feeling.
3) It keeps you competitive
Competition is fierce in eCommerce, but consumer research can help you stand out amidst a sea of lookalikes.
Consumer research is time-consuming. It requires several layers of detailed research and analysis. However, the exhaustive nature of consumer research means not many brands or companies do it as well as they should.
That means investing in comprehensive consumer research will give your business a competitive edge. It’s an opportunity to learn about your customers and what makes them tick.
Take the guesswork out of your consumers’ motivations and behaviors by using real data and insights. Rather than basing your business decisions on assumptions, everything you do will be tailored to your buyers. Every decision will have a reason.
You’ll be doing what you know is right for your audience while your competitors are stuck doing what they think is right.
How to conduct consumer research
Before you conduct consumer research, you need to adopt an analytical mindset. Consumer research relies on lots of analytical tools and processes, from reviewing online user behavior to conducting surveys and interviewing consumers.
Once you’ve gathered all of this data, you then need to distill the important information gain actionable insights for your business.
The research process typically involves the following activities:
- Trend analysis
- Industry surveys
- Customer surveys
- Customer interviews
- Team interviews
- Audience behavior analysis
Let’s look at some of the tools and processes you can use to conduct consumer research.
1) Trend analysis
Trend analysis is a core component of effective consumer research. It shows you what’s currently popular within your target market. You can view trend spikes over time and predict upcoming fads before they hit their peak.
Trend analysis is great for discovering evergreen opportunities while still helping you capitalize on short-term trends.
Use consumer trend analysis to forecast future business decisions and identify the topics your consumers are most interested in at the moment.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool for spying trends on your own website, making for some excellent customer-first data.
You can use Google Analytics to measure performance across different channels, traffic sources, or web pages over time. You can also look at audience trends and on-site conversion changes.
This data can help you answer questions such as:
- Which products, pages, or blogs are visitors most interested in as a first entry point? What about once they are on the website?
- Which channels are leading to higher conversions and revenue?
- Are we seeing more buy-in when it comes to subscription or auto-replenishment programs?
- How has our average order value changed over time? Does it align with any initiatives, such as planting a tree for every sale?
- How has our audience changed over the past year? What kind of questions are they asking?
You can use Google Analytics to analyze and interpret historical website data to make informed predictions. Google Analytics has an impressive suite of pre-built reports that can reveal current interests and best performing pages. Or, you can create your own tailored to your business goals and KPIs.
Tip: Performance fluctuates throughout the year, so be sure to analyze data over a long enough period of time.
Make sure you also set a comparison so you can see how the data is currently performing compared to a previous period.
For instance, looking at website visitors over a seven-day period won’t tell you much about your performance. But, if you compare those seven days to the same period last year, you’ll be able to see how things have changed over time.
Besides time periods, you should also compare different metrics as part of your trend analysis.
For example, look at how website revenue has changed over time compared to the number of transactions. Has revenue increased, but total transactions decreased? What does this tell you about how consumers interact with your brand?
If you want to discover emerging technology, trending topics, and new market opportunities, I highly recommend Exploding Topics.
Exploding Topics is one of my go-to content creation tools. It analyzes searches, conversations, and mentions across the internet to determine trending topics in different industries.
Exploding Topics’ intuitive algorithm is able to use this data to identify industries, products, and topics long before they take off so you can be at the forefront of the next big trend.
In the free version, you can filter by preset categories to see which topics are currently “exploding” in your chosen niche. You can then use this information to see what your audience is searching for or talking about right now.
From there, you can find ways to address those topics through your marketing and sales activity.
You could tailor your organic social media content to those conversations, write a blog article on that topic, or adapt your sales messaging accordingly when talking directly to your customers.
If you have the Pro version of Exploding Topics, you can see emerging trends at least six months before they reach their peak popularity. The Pro model is ideal for business owners and entrepreneurs who want to stay ahead of the curve.
Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO tool that can help you spot trending keywords and competitor analysis to uncover popular topics in your niche.
Their Content Explorer tool lets you research topics, find link opportunities, and tap into social and SEO metrics. The data provided lets you analyze top-performing content and discover new opportunities for your business.
Enter your chosen topic check out their “pages over time” chart and table. This is helpful for seeing the general trend for the topic, so you can see whether it’s an up-and-coming craze that you need to address, or if it’s already in or past its peak popularity.
You can also combine advanced search operators to refine your search and easily uncover new content creation opportunities based on what’s taking off right now. Narrowing your results with advanced search operators reveals the trending topics that align best with your goals.
Industry blogs and newsletters
Finally, you’ll want to stay up to date on the latest industry updates with blogs and newsletters in your niche.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of resources out there offering indispensable market information tailored specifically to your niche. Subscribe to industry blogs and newsletters to soak up their insights and stay at the forefront of your niche.
For eCommerce owners and business leaders, continuous education is mission critical. Deepening and expanding your knowledge is the best way to sharpen your skills, stay ahead of the curve, and adapt your strategies as needed.
2) Industry surveys
Industry surveys gather consumer data by polling your audience. Surveys tend to be performed online and can be an easy, cost-effective way to conduct consumer research.
Surveys allow you to reach out to your target audience and ask them specific questions to guide your business forward. Some industry surveys you could perform include competitor analysis, consumer profiling, and new product development inquiries.
A few tools you can use to survey your audience include…
Attest is a survey tool that lets you easily create and distribute surveys to a carefully defined target audience.
You can craft a wide variety of surveys, including consumer profiling, creative testing, market analysis, concept testing, and more. These surveys allow you to dig deep into the topics that matter most to your consumers and your brand.
Attest has access to more than 110 million survey respondents across 49 countries. You can use demographic filters and qualifiers to ensure your survey is sent to the people who are most representative of your target consumers.
This ensures you only reach respondents with the consumer habits, lifestyle, or traits that matter to you.
One of my favorite features within Attest is the interactive dashboard, which transforms your survey results into easy-to-digest insights. You can also send surveys multiple times to the same audience to see how answers change over time, or you can compare two groups to see if there’s a significant difference in responses between audience types.
With Attest, your first survey is free. After that, you’ll pay per response with various tiers based on the number of responses you want to receive.
Forrester pioneered the concept of customer obsession. As such, they’re committed to helping brands fully understand their buyers so they can create customer-centric business decisions that move the needle.
Businesses can achieve this using a number of Forrester’s tools. First, you can access published industry surveys and reports by Forrester. These help you discover emerging trends and user behaviors for specific industries.
Alternatively, you can work directly with Forrester to produce your own surveys and reports or to research your company positioning. Forrester can provide research-based insights, models, and frameworks for your business to use to implement the actions that deliver the right results.
Forrester’s FeedbackNow tool is great for capturing real-time customer feedback. With it, you can pinpoint emerging issues, discover customer preferences, and transform your customer experiences. The FeedbackNow tool can be integrated digitally into your website or app, or can be installed as a physical product in brick-and-mortar stores.
AYTM is short for Ask Your Target Market. As the name suggests, the purpose of this online market research tool is to help brands gain insights from their target audience.
More than just another survey tool, AYTM utilized “DIY market research” when they first launched in 2009. Since then, they’ve continued to set the pace for sophisticated industry research.
With AYTM, you can send surveys to your own list, or you can develop panel surveys to be sent to AYTM’s survey respondent database. You can also craft these surveys yourself or enlist the help of AYTM experts to prepare and launch them for you.
AYTM focuses on serving small businesses and start-ups. Their pay-per-use model helps even the smallest of players go up against industry leaders by only paying for survey responses when they need them.
Pollfish is another survey tool that’s easy to use with simple pricing. They provide access to more than 250 million survey respondents, so you can gain fast insights into potential consumers.
Pollfish has an advanced audience targeting model that lets you ask an initial screening question to reach the target audience that best meets your required criteria. This helps ensure you only pay for responses from people who represent your target customers.
Tip: They can also partner directly with apps to survey their direct audience in exchange for a customer-relevant benefit. Instead of offering cash or universally-desired rewards, which may attract survey-takers who will skew the results, Pollfish can provide a brand-specific benefit like a discount to your store, or freebie with next purchase.
You can set up on-site surveys to serve your website visitors. These will help you gather important data around leads, what stage of the buyer journey they’re at by the time they discover your website, and give you an idea of your competition.
Below are some survey questions you can include. Unless noted otherwise (questions 1, 2, 4) the answer fields should be open-ended.
1) Which best describes you?
- List your different audience buckets (ICPs, buyer personas) with an “Other” option.
I am an…
- Amazon seller (upon click, have them select their sales volume, ie. 25,000-100,000 orders per month)
- Amazon aggregator (upon click, have them select funding, ie. $50M+ in funding)
- Direct-to-consumer merchant (upon click, have them select order volume, ie. 100 average daily orders)
- Other (click to type details)
2) What problem are you looking to solve today?
- List your product or service’s use cases.
3) How do you currently manage [problem stated above]? (This should be open-ended, because you may discover competitors and alternatives you weren’t even aware of.)
4) Is there anything you dislike about your current solution?
- Yes (click to type details)
5) What are your top requirements for a [product or service use cases they selected above]?
6) How did you find us?
3) Customer surveys
Industry surveys are invaluable for gaining a wide-lens perspective of sector activity and your target audience’s needs, motivations, and behaviors.
Meanwhile, customer surveys offer a focused, zoomed-in look at your business and your own customers.
It’s important to collect both industry and customer surveys, as they can show how customers respond to your brand as well as judge your brand positioning in the wider market.
From digging into their product preferences to gauging buyer satisfaction, customer surveys are a popular consumer research tool because you can verify statements and insights directly from consumers who have proven to be a good fit for your brand.
Here are a few tools that help me run and analyze customer surveys.
If you lead a team, you may already be familiar with Airtable — a collaborative app designed to propel workflows and teams. But did you know it also has a surveys feature?
You can use Airtable to create customer satisfaction and analysis forms. The app also has a template you can copy and tailor to your brand. Then you can send this form to your customers asking them to evaluate their experience with your brand.
From here, you can use the Promoter/Detractor status to dig into survey responses and drive actions based on what they say.
Tip: Include a closing question asking if they would be willing to chat further with you about their experience. This is a great way to find customers willing to do interviews so you can dig deeper.
You don’t always need fancy tools to learn what your customers have to say. Google Forms are a simple and elegant way to speak to your customers and gather insights.
Use Google Forms to create customer feedback surveys for free. It’s an easy, no-nonsense way to ask your customers the questions that matter most to your business.
Once you’ve built your Google Form, you can distribute it through your email list, in a website pop-up, on social media, or by directly reaching out to customers and asking them to complete the form.
You’re able to view real-time survey responses by navigating to the “Responses” tab, or you can export them to Google Sheets for a more granular insight.
If you’re looking to create customer survey forms that are engaging and integrate seamlessly into your website, turn to Typeform.
You can craft innovative forms, surveys, and quizzes with Typeform that’ll keep users motivated to complete them.
Unlike the usual format of reams of questions, Typeform displays one at a time. You can add your own branding and make the questions conversational to encourage respondents to give more thoughtful responses and easily move from question to question.
Typeform offers a limited free plan or various paid tiers, allowing you to choose a package that best suits your customer survey needs.
HotJar is traditionally recognized as a heat-mapping and user-tracking tool, but they also offer surveys that allow users to ask site visitors an unlimited number of questions.
Their surveys can take numerous formats, from popover widgets to fullscreen surveys and even external standalone pages. This allows you to capture customers while they’re on your website or via email.
You can use HotJar to customize surveys specifically for your website visitors. You can also create a Net Promoter Score survey to measure customer loyalty and satisfaction.
By combining surveys with other HotJar features such as Heatmaps or Recordings, you can gain a thorough understanding of how people engage with your website. This information can then guide strategic changes that improve the online customer experience and uplift conversions.
For example, you might want to serve a post-purchase survey that appears once someone has completed a purchase to learn how they found the process. Or, you could have a pop-up appear on your “Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter” page that asks the main reason they signed up.
Customer survey question bank
You can use the questions below to build out your own customer survey. Unless noted otherwise (questions 2, 10) the responses should be open-ended.
1) How did you discover [company]?
2) What’s your main use case for [company]?
- List your different use cases with an “Other” option.
What’s your main use case for MyFBAPrep?
- Carton forwarding
- Item-level prep
- FBM fulfillment
- DTC fulfillment
- Retail replenishment
3) Before [your company], how were you handling [what your customer uses you for]?
4) What was the trigger that made you switch from your old method? (Responses to this question are useful for describing your audience’s pain points in their own voice.)
5) What other alternatives were you looking at alongside us?
6) What features, services, or experience made you choose us over your other options?
7) What did your other options lack that made you cross them off your list?
8) What is your favorite thing about [company]?
9) What can we do better?
10) Are you willing to chat more with our customer research team?
- Yes, via email (click to enter best contact email)
- Yes, via voice call (click to enter best contact email for meeting invite)
- Not right now
4) Customer interviews
While surveys tend to be completed virtually and are constrained by predetermined questions, customer interviews allow for face-to-face discussions and collect more qualitative data. Interviews are invaluable for “going down the rabbit hole” conversations that unveil things you wouldn’t even have thought to ask about.
Customer interviews can be either structured or unstructured. Structured interviews are led by detailed, predetermined questions. Meanwhile, unstructured ones are free-flowing, allowing the conversation to carve its own path and ask new questions as it evolves.
Tip: Consider a hybrid of both, with set questions to keep the conversation flowing, but don’t be afraid to veer off course if there’s an interesting tangent to follow.
Interviews can also be one-to-ones or in focus groups with multiple customers.
Customer interviews are vital for gaining deep insights into customer behaviors, motivations, and needs. Whichever interview type you choose, it’s important to remain unbiased.
You can use a number of tools to conduct customer interviews. Some of the tools you’ll need to consider are which platform you’ll use to host the meeting, recording equipment, and transcribing tools.
These days, there are a lot of virtual meeting platforms to choose from. Two of the biggest competitors in this space are Google Meet and Zoom, both of which offer free and paid versions, depending on your needs.
Google Meet is Google’s native video conferencing tool. Much like the rest of Google’s tools, it’s easy and free to use.
Google Workspace users can unlock Premium Meet features such as breakout rooms, polls, Q&As, and attendance tracking.
If you plan to host a focus group with multiple customers, or if you want to gain interactive data during the interview, you may want to consider using the Premium version of Google Meet.
While these Premium features aren’t necessary, they can add another layer to your customer interviews, allowing you to dig deeper into the answers and topics that arise and capture even more data for analysis.
On the free version of Google Meet, you can host one-to-one meetings for up to 24 hours, or you can have calls with three or more participants for up to 60 minutes.
The other video conferencing giant you can use to conduct customer interviews is Zoom.
Similar to Google Meet, Zoom also offers a free plan. You can host up to 100 participants, have group meetings for up to 40 minutes, or hold one-to-one meetings for up to 30 hours.
Along with their standard video conferencing tools, Zoom also offers an omnichannel contact center solution. This solution can simplify business operations and elevate customer experiences by providing video-based customer support. You can then measure the data from these interactions to figure out how to improve your customer interactions in the future.
The differences between Zoom and Google Meet are minor, so which one you choose tends to come down to personal preference. I lean toward Google Meet, as I’ve already built my call toolstack around it.
You should record customer interviews (with permission) so you can play them back, share them with your team, pull quotes to settle debates, revisit and analyze what was said, and use the findings to make informed business decisions.
Many conferencing tools already come with built-in recording features. I like to use dedicated call recording software for customer interviews, as it makes hosting, recording, and analyzing customer interviews much easier.
Gong is an intuitive video recording tool that integrates seamlessly with both Google Meet and Zoom so you can record customer conversations and capture interesting insights.
It analyzes customer interactions to show you what topics people respond most favorably to or which parts of the conversation didn’t resonate as expected. The software’s AI will dissect your customer’s voice to provide highlights, action items, and a searchable database of customer voice.
Gong prompts participant consent prior to recording. Once the recording begins, Gong will redact any sensitive information, such as customer credit card details.
Your calls are automatically logged on your CRM for future access and analysis. Gong does all the heavy-lifting so you can seamlessly host customer interviews knowing the conversation is being recorded and analyzed in the background.
Vidyard works as a call recorder, regardless of the meeting software you choose. You can install a Chrome extension to begin recording during your video calls, and choose whether you want it to record your screen as well as camera, or just one or the other.
Vidyard also has a great Zoom integration, as it makes sure your Zoom meetings are always recorded and uploaded to an accessible location, regardless of who on your team was in the meeting.
Paid plans on Zoom allow you to automatically upload Zoom recordings into Vidyard. You can then use Vidyard to generate automatic captions for your recording and upload it to a video hub where you can bookmark and highlight different sections as you view your recording.
Additionally, if you plan to create async customer support videos, Vidyard can be especially powerful for providing elevated customer service.
Transcribing consumer interviews makes it easier for you to analyze the data. Manually transcribing video or audio content, though, can take a long time. So, I recommend enlisting the help of automatic transcription tools.
These tools will collect audio data and convert it into text so you can dive straight into the analysis stage of your interviews.
Descript is an all-in-one audio and video editing software. You can record, transcribe, edit, mix, collaborate, and master audio and video content all within this transcription tool.
Descript features industry-leading accuracy thanks to its extensive development, testing, and refinement.
It also boasts lightning fast turnaround for transcriptions.
Upload your video to Descript and it will immediately start transcribing your interview for you. While doing so, Descript will prompt you to add Speaker labels for different voices.
This automated speaker detection tool means you only need to identify speakers once. Descript will then remember who’s who and apply Speaker labels throughout the written transcription.
If you have a complex interview that needs input from professional transcriptionists, Descript also offers a White Glove service that claims to deliver 99% accuracy in an average of 24 hours.
Overall, it’s a great tool for transcribing interviews quickly and easily.
Avoma’s tagline is an “AI Meeting Assistant with Conversation Intelligence.” Integrating at every stage of the meeting process, Avoma helps you before, during, and after interviews.
During the meeting, it handles automatic recording and transcription. Avoma collects consent and transcribes your interviews in real time so you can instantly access interview transcripts.
It also transforms your video or audio meetings into a searchable knowledge base. You can then add comments to saved transcripts and collaborate across teams if you have more than one person working on consumer research.
When using Avoma, you’ll also get automatic speaker identification, a topic breakdown of the conversation, and insights into metrics like speaker talk time, talk-to-listen ratio, and more. The topic detection and breakdown tools are great for gaining a top-level overview of the key points of the interview.
This transcription tool can seamlessly integrate with your CRM, ensuring all of your transcripts are saved in one easy-to-access location.
While Descript is great for obtaining highly accurate transcripts with ease, Avoma is my preferred transcription tool if you want a set of action items to take away, and smart assistance analyzing customer interviews.
Customer interview question bank
Below are some questions you can use to interview your customers to uncover insights.
To put these questions into context, I’ve framed them from the POV of a B2B eCommerce fulfillment solution.
- Who handles inventory, fulfillment, and logistics at your company?
- What are your main responsibilities and KPIs?
- What does the typical day or week look like in your role?
- What do you use us for mainly? (Could be DTC fulfillment, marketplace fulfillment, FBA prep, etc.)
- How did you manage order fulfillment before us?
- How long did it take to [fulfill orders, prep items, audit inventory, etc.] before us?
- How long does it take to [fulfill orders, prep items, audit inventory, etc.] today?
- What made you seek an external fulfillment partner out?
- Who else were you considering?
- Why did you choose us?
- What were you skeptical or unsure of when you first discovered us?
- How were your sales or conversions affected after you started using us?
- What has faster and more hands-off fulfillment unlocked for yourself and your team? What about for the company?
- What aspects of our service could you not live without?
- How has using us changed how your team works?
5) Team interviews
Your leads and customers aren’t the only source of consumer information you have. All of the departments that regularly interact with your leads and customers have a wealth of knowledge and context, whether they realize it or not. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to build good internal feedback loops to strengthen your overall growth initiatives.
For example, your sales team knows:
- Common hesitations that potential buyers bring up
- Most frequently asked questions and confusion points
- The features or benefits that resonate
- Most effective ways to frame different offerings
- Other solutions leads compare you to
- Main competitors you’ve lost deals to
- What problems your leads are trying to solve (JTBD)
Interview individuals from different departments like sales and customer service to learn some of their gathered knowledge about your consumers. You can interview your audience-facing team members using many of the same tools as you would use for customer interviews.
Use some of the interview questions below to get started.
- How would you group the different types of leads/customers we have, if you had to put them into different buckets?
- Could you tell me more about the [ICP] group?
- What are their usual job titles?
- What problems are they trying to solve?
- What are their KPIs and metrics for success?
- What other tools or solutions are they using?
- What tools or solutions did they switch over from?
- How do they use us in their day-to-day?
- Are there any key indicators a lead is likely to convert?
- What competitors or alternatives have you heard of the most?
- What do leads/customers say we do better than them? What do we do worse?
- What are the most important features or services our leads/customers care about?
- What are the biggest typical blockers to a sale?
- Have you noticed anything many leads are hesitant about regarding our company/product/service?
- What’s some of your favorite feedback from leads/customers?
- What should we do better to close deals/keep customers happy/set expectations?
6) Audience behavior
As our access to third-party data becomes more and more restricted, you need to turn to collecting first-party data. Instead of relying on information derived from external sources through cookies and other third-party aggregators, you need to have your own methods of collecting and analyzing audience behavior.
Tap into your audience data collected on your store or glean audience behavior insights from trusted industry tools.
On your store
Leverage first-party data by analyzing audience behavior from data collected on your store. This could be data from behaviors, actions, or interests taken across your website, eCommerce store, or related apps.
This kind of data is key to understanding your customers’ needs because it’s based on actual audience interactions with your brand.
A few tools that can help you observe how customers interact with your website include…
FullStory is a Digital Experience Intelligence (DXI) platform that captures quantitative and qualitative data to help you enhance your online store performance. This tool focuses on each user’s “story” — it allows you to see every step they take to reveal invaluable insights into audience behavior in real time.
You can use FullStory to identify points of frustration and drop-off, understand typical user journeys, or see where the most conversions occur. From there, you can leverage this knowledge of user behavior to increase conversions and decrease cart abandonment.
FullStory’s session replay feature lets you follow user interaction on your store by watching session recordings and seeing exactly how they engage with your site.
Meanwhile, the FullStory dashboard offers the most important insights at a glance. You can filter users and sessions by any path or action they could possibly take to gain a deeper understanding of on-site behavior.
FullStory provides full visibility of the ways customers interact with your eCommerce store. This information can then help you make business decisions that drive results.
Heap focuses on user journeys. This intuitive tool analyzes on-site visitor behavior so you can pinpoint the exact events and actions that have the biggest impact on your store’s performance.
Much like FullStory, Heap also provides user recordings so you can see how people interact with your store. Their analysis reports make it easy to pinpoint where users are struggling so you can amend your store or products accordingly to minimize dropoff and boost user retention.
Journey Maps in Heap Illuminate lets you compare visitor paths and measure the impact of steps within the user journey. You can take a deep-dive into these journeys to uncover what on-site touchpoints are most likely to drive conversions and which ones are pushing customers away.
Heaps’ integration capabilities let you take audience analysis one step further. Combine Heap with Optimizely to run A/B tests and evaluate their effect. Heap can also be used alongside Appcues to identify friction points, increase adoption, and accelerate product activation.
A/B testing your eCommerce store is an important step in optimizing your buyer journey. VWO is an A/B testing tool that helps you improve online experiences for your customers.
It lets you test different visitor experiences, gain insights into existing user behavior, engage with customers, and devise new growth and optimization plans.
Use VWO to delve into user behavior on your eCommerce store with funnels, heatmaps, session recordings, on-page surveys, and more.
Heatmaps are great for seeing which on-page elements capture users’ attention, and which ones distract them. You can then analyze these heatmaps to make informed changes to your online store — namely, removing confusing or distracting elements and improving those that encourage users to take the right action.
Running on-site experiments can aid consumer research by allowing you to see which changes your customers enjoy. These experiments are powerful when launching new features because you can run tests prior to launch, then analyze user responses to the changes and implement the features that worked best.
In the industry
Reviewing audience behavior on your eCommerce store offers limited insight into user preferences.
While on-store analysis is great for learning how your current users behave, it doesn’t tell you how this compares to the wider industry. That’s why it’s important to analyze user behavior on a wider level, too.
Industry-wide analysis lets you see how your ideal target audience interacts with other products and brands, and reveals their behaviors, motivations, and challenges.
You can then use this information to improve your product offerings and enhance the user experience for your customers.
Here are a few tools I like to use for industry audience insights.
SparkToro is an Audience Intelligence platform that’s revolutionized audience research. If you’ve ever wondered what social media accounts your audience follows or which websites they visit, SparkToro is the tool for you.
This tool pinpoints where your audience spends most of their time so you can understand what they’re looking for and how you can meet their needs.
You can identify sources of influence, gain insight into the type of words or hashtags people use the most, gather publicly available contact information, and analyze different demographics.
SparkToro lets you identify audience affinities and build products your customers will love. If you’re still crafting your ideal customer personas, SparkToro can help you define your audience and deepen your knowledge of their online habits.
Search by topic, popular account, websites, or hashtag to see:
- Demographic data including employment, skills & interests, gender & age, and more
- Text insights such as words in bio and hashtags used
- Social insights into the most-followed social accounts and hidden gems
- Website data detailing which websites this audience tends to share, link to, and engage with
- Podcast insights showcasing which shows they commonly listen to and engage with
- YouTube data to determine which channels this audience frequently watches, subscribes to and engages with
You can then analyze this data to further your audience understanding and make informed decisions within your business.
Audiense aims to help brands put consumer segmentation and understanding at the heart of their business strategy.
With Audiense’s Insights suite, you can identify and understand any audience. Input specific audience details to uncover your ideal target audience and gain insights into their online habits, purchase behaviors, and more.
The complexity of Audiense’s audience identification guarantees you’ll analyze the right data for your brand. This tool goes beyond traditional segmentation and expands your knowledge of your target market.
You can use Audiense to hone in on target audiences and run competitor analysis. The data can reveal how to strategically launch new products, target new markets, tailor services to audience segments, and make improvements based on competitor and audience understanding.
One of my favorite aspects of Audiense’s Insights suite is the ability to combine Audiense data with your own customer information. This helps to ensure unique insights exclusive to your customers and exclusively available to your brand.
Wrapping up — Improve audience acquisition, activation, and retention with consumer research
Conducting consumer research can be the difference between getting ahead of the competition and falling behind.
Make consumer research an integral part of your strategy to improve acquisition, activation, and retention at every stage of your business.
There’s a wide variety of tools available to optimize consumer research, some of which I’ve highlighted in this article.
Whichever tools you opt for, remember to use a mix of owned first-party data and external third-party data to gain a broader understanding of your audience.
Speaking directly with customers is invaluable for learning your customers’ needs and interests, so leverage the power of customer interviews and surveys.
When you invest in consumer research, you invest in the growth of your store.