Doing market research and gaining usable customer insights is a critical step for any business, because it’s instrumental in serving and retaining existing customers, and in designing a successful marketing strategy. Unfortunately, many smaller businesses can’t afford to create their own customer insight teams, and often feel forced to act on limited data in their marketing and change management efforts. Obviously, being forced to experiment isn’t a very efficient way to build customer loyalty or generate new leads. Luckily, that simply isn’t necessary.

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Developing excellent customer insight doesn’t have to break a tight budget. By understanding how your customers behave, and what they need, you can design targeted campaigns that address their needs in an organic and ultimately much more effective way. Not only does that help you get faster results, it improves your ROI overall, and can actually save your business money.

Client exit & sales interviews

A great and simple way to gather data is to leverage conversations and interactions that you’re already having with your clients. Your sales representatives can easily insert a few strategic questions at the point of sale and during a client exit interview, after services are rendered or a client cancels their service. So long as these questions are diplomatic and succinct you’ll be able to get a lot of useful information without inconveniencing customers or interfering with the sales process.

For example, you might ask new clients where they first heard of your business, and what they have found most helpful in interacting with your business so far. For clients who are leaving, you might instead ask how it was doing business with you, how satisfied they were with your business’ communication skills, and if they believe something could have been done better. During a client exit interview especially, it’s important not to frame these questions in a context of trying to retain the customer, because it could make them feel less inclined to be honest.

Customer surveys

To gather feedback from current customers, a simple multiple-choice email survey can go a long way. These are a good way to elicit structured and easy-to-analyse feedback on your current performance that can help you improve and customise your product or service. Additionally, it can provide insights into what your clients’ longer term needs are, and how well your team is meeting those needs at the current time.

The difficulty with email surveys over far more labour-intensive phone interviews, is that not all of your clients will be willing to fill out the polls. You’ll need to keep in mind that the feedback you receive will be skewed to disproportionately represent active and engaged consumers rather than providing an unbiased sampling of all your customers.

Collect online data

A critical and often overlooked source of information that’s highly pertinent to your marketing efforts is web traffic and search engine data. Track and compile information on which sites refer the most visitors to you in proportion to your presence and the amount of funding you’ve invested.

By tracking this information, you’ll be better able to determine exactly where your ideal customers are, and on what platforms they are most prepared to engage with your brand. For example, it might take 15 minutes per day to update your Facebook page, and $5,000 per month to fund your pay-per-click ad campaign. If your Facebook page is referring even half as many visitors to your site as your PPC ads, it might be time to re-evaluate how your marketing funds are invested.

Similarly, you can use Google Analytics to gather data on which keywords generate the most traffic for various product pages via search. That information alone is useful for targeting your search engine optimisation efforts, but there’s more. By comparing these visitors to the number of corresponding sales made, you can calculate conversion rates for individual products. This way you can better determine how to most effectively present your products and services, while also gaining insights into which products provide the best returns for your marketing dollars.

Solicit complaints

Nobody loves receiving negative feedback, but it’s often where the most actionable insights are found. Providing an accessible and simple platform for receiving complaints is an important way to gather constructive criticism that you can use to help retain existing customers, and to improve the experience of future clients. A good way to do this is to explicitly point out to customers where they can turn to voice any concerns, whether that be a contact person or another avenue.

This offers insights into your customer’s perspective, and offers clues as to what their frustrations with other businesses in your industry have been. By addressing these frustrations up front, you can help to establish your brand as a cut above the rest.

None of these efforts require a large budget, or a sizeable dedicated team, but they can make an enormous difference in how your business interacts with customers and markets to the public. To address cash flow issues with these and other budget shortfalls, reach out to our representatives at Fifo Capital to learn about the financing opportunities that are available to your business.