Knowledge is power. There’s a reason why companies like Proctor and Gamble spend millions upon millions on conducting customer research. You don’t have millions and millions to spend like that, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do market research. There are many cost effective, even free, ways for you to conduct market research. The more you know about your customers and target market, the more you will profit.
Here are some useful things to know about your target market:
- What do they think about you and your products?
- What things can you improve on?
- What is the reason that they buy from you?
- What is the reason that they don’t buy from you?
- What products and services are you missing which they want?
A popular way to do market research is through surveys; and with some of the software out there, creating surveys are a snap. Here is a video tutorial showing how to use SurveyMonkey, a tool that lets you create surveys for free (up to 10 questions and 100 responses):
When constructing your survey keep these things in mind:
- Instead of yes/no questions, you may want to ask rate on a scale of 1-10 (i.e. “How knowledgeable was the customer service representative you talked to?”)
- Have open ended questions where customers can type what they want (i.e. “What type of things would you like us to carry that we currently don’t?”)
- Try to keep the survey as short as possible – people inherently don’t like surveys as it is, don’t discourage them further from completing yours!
You can send the survey to customers as a part of the order process, so they can provide answers after a sale. You can hold a contest by holding a drawing for a prize to spur on people to helping you (the only thing here is that you’d have to ask them for an email address as a way to contact the winner which can lower the chance that some will fill out what would otherwise be anonymous). If you have a newsletter or another mailing list, you can promote a survey through email.
Another idea is to use a service like GetSatisfaction to get visitor feedback as they are on your site. GetSatisfaction can be a little more pricey than survey’s, but I really like the concept and it allows for greater participation from people than using existing customers or email lists. It can also be used as a help desk. Once you sign up, you can create a “widget”, a tab will display on you website (picture to the left) which visitors can click on to get customer service or to provide you feedback.
When a visitor clicks the tab, they get a pop-up where one of the options is to “Share an Idea”:
The ideas can be sent privately which means only you see it, or it can be submitted for the community to vote on. This is really helpful because it lets you gauge what are the ideas that people would like to see most. Here you can see the most popular ideas that people have submitted to GetSatisfaction where people can click on the star to indicate which one they vote for.
These are just a couple of tools that you can use as an affordable way to learn more about your potential customers and ideas that will improve your business. However, you choose to do it, just make sure that you are constantly trying to get feedback and doing market research otherwise you’ll be operating in a vacuum.