Are you struggling to come up with your next blog post? Your next email? Your next product? Your next event?
If so, you need to start getting some inspiration. And one great source of inspiration that will be most valuable to your business is your customers.
Once you know what your customers want, your struggles will come to an end. You’ll know what to write. What to email. What to create. What to organize.
So how do you find out what your customers want? Here are the places to go, the tactics to try, and the tools to use.
Research the Data That’s Out There
Did you know you may not have to ask one question to find out what your customers want? The answers may already be out there. By researching the following sources, your question about whether to create a specific product could be answered. Then, you could ask finely tuned questions about the new product you know you should create instead.
If there are sites where people can review your business, products, or services, start there. That’s where YOUR customers are going to talk about their likes and dislikes. Hence, those sites should be hotbeds of customer feedback.
- For local businesses, these sites include Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Local, and Yahoo Local.
- For niche businesses, like a wedding planning service, these sites include theKnot and WeddingWire.
- For app developers, these sites include iTunes and Google Play.
- For SAAS businesses, these sites include GetApp and Software Advice.
And, of course, there are also independent reviews from bloggers and other networks you may have not even heard of. You can find these by doing a search for your business name or your unique product name + review.
You can also do some social searches for your business name or unique product name to find tweets about each. You can look at the posts to your Facebook page. You can look at comments on Google+ posts or YouTube videos about your products and services.
The goal is to analyze your reviews for specific phrases. Phrases like “I wish you offered”, “I wish you made”, “when will you add”, “your competitor lets me”, and similar. Phrases that show what your customers want from you that you are not offering just yet.
Your Competitor’s Reviews
Don’t have enough reviews of your own business? You can tap into the previously mentioned sources for competitors who offer similar products and services. You may find that their customers have wanted something for a long time that your competitor doesn’t provide. This would give you a great advantage in potentially getting their customers to become your customers.
Ask Your Customers
If researching reviews isn’t possible, or you have done your research and finely tuned some new questions, here are some places you can go to start getting valuable customer feedback.
Your Customer Database
Who better to ask about what your customers want than your customers? If you have permission to email your customers, then send them a survey to find out what they want.
For this, you can use survey tools like SurveyMonkey. If you only need to ask up to 10 questions to up to 100 customers, it’s free. If you need to ask more questions to more customers, or you want advanced reporting features, plans start at $26 per month, which you can cancel after you have surveyed your customers.
If you’re ok with collecting answers in a spreadsheet format and analyzing them yourself, you can use Google Forms for free to survey as many people as you want.
When you survey your audience on social media, you will get answers from your customers, your potential customers, and your former customers who are still fans of your business. You can use the surveys you created for your customer database, or you can ask single questions on Facebook, Twitter, etc. that people can answer as comments or replies.
This approach is ideal for businesses that may not have a lot of customers yet. It also works for businesses that are trying to find out what it would take to convert fans into customers, or get old customers back.
For those getting customer feedback on Facebook, you can try the Poll app. You can use the free plan for basic features or upgrade to the $19 per month plan to remove ads, hide results, and access additional options. You can also look into services like Woobox that offer a polling app starting at $49 per month (based on fan size) for access to all of their business apps.
Asking for customer feedback on particular areas of your website can be provide extremely valuable insights. Here are a few examples.
- Let’s say that someone has been looking a page that lists all of your services for a while, but they haven’t clicked through to a landing page for a specific service. You could ask that person if you are missing a service that they need.
- The same goes for pages that list different products that you offer. If someone hasn’t clicked through to a landing page for a specific product, you could ask if there is a product they were looking for that you don’t offer.
- What if someone is looking at a specific service or product landing page, but not clicking through to submit a lead form or buy? You could ask them what is holding them back or what is missing that would encourage them to become a customer.
- For someone who lands on your blog, you could ask what topics that person would like to see you write about next.
- For someone who lands on your support site, you could ask what features you could add to your product or service that would make their lives easier.
There are plenty of additional ways you can use behavioral targeting to ask customers questions about their wants and needs at the right time. And there are plenty of tools that can help you out as well, depending on your needs and budget.
First, there is Google Consumer Insights. For $0.10 per response, you can ask targeted visitors specific questions about your website, business, products, or services. For 1,000 responses, you would be looking at a total of $100. If you’re not sure about what to ask, they have an example uses gallery organized by profession and purpose.
Next, there is Qualaroo. Their plans start at $63 per month for unlimited surveys with up to 200 responses per month. Additional features at higher plan levels include integration with Google Analytics, KISSmetrics, Optimizely, Marketo, HubSpot, Mailchimp, and other marketing platforms.
In addition to survey tools, there are also live chat tools such as Olark, which you might have seen popup on the KISSmetrics website. Live chat tools allow you not only to find out what your customer wants, but can also help you close the sales or lead submissions. Olark starts at $15 per month.
Question and answer networks are full of people who are ready to answer questions. If you can find one, like Quora, where your potential or current customers are active, you can ask people about your business, products, and services. Or, you can ask more generic questions about what is missing in your industry.
Forums can offer a similar haven as well for surveying your ideal customers. Just be aware that many forums are sensitive to self-promotion, so your questions should be poised to benefit the greater good of the members, not just your business.
Don’t let learning what your customers want be a one-time mission. Make it an ongoing source of information and inspiration. There are several tools that can alert you to when your customers are talking about what they want online.
Social Media Listening
First, let’s look at strictly social media listening. You can start simply by searching some of the phrases you used when researching reviews for your business and your competitors on Twitter. Phrases like “I wish [blank] offered”, “I wish [blank] made”, “when will [blank] add”, “[blank] lets me”, and similar.
Now, let’s look at how you listen to the web as a whole. Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alerts are free tools you can use to search for phrases that will help you discover customer feedback about your business and your competitors.
These tools will alert you to new blogs, news articles, Q&A network posts, forum posts, and web items where customers are talking about your products and services, or similar ones.
Between researching what’s out there, asking your customers for feedback, and monitoring conversations, you should be able to get the insights you need to create new products, service offerings, content, and more. And not just any new products, services, and content, but the ones that your customers want!
About the Author: Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz. He is a start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars. Check out his personal blog where he writes about starting up two companies and life in general.