When brands discuss ‘customer insights,’ it conjures visions of intel skillfully extracted from numerous aggregated data sources––or at least, it should bring that to mind! If it doesn’t, you may be using a less than stellar tool to support your most mission critical efforts. And today, we’re examining where this ‘customer insight bar’ is set and why your brand can’t settle for something ‘so-so.’
A number of things must be well executed when starting out on your data capture journey. First, the researcher must collect the right data in sufficient quantities. And customer data can be acquired from a diverse array of sources, so this is a very real challenge.
Social media is one of the richest sources of customer data today. Approximately half of the world’s population uses social media to share personal information, offering both opinions and consumption behavior.
Another great source for customer data comprises review sites and forums. Customers use these platforms to share their experiences with different products and services – and to read reviews others have shared there on same.
And then customer data can also be shared passively. This includes the data collected by website cookies, search data, and other monitored consumer actions across the web.
So we know what they are – but why does do customer insights matter, really?
Why Customer Insights Matter
The journey to understand customer insights calls for a proper analysis of the data gathered. Without this step, businesses don’t really have anything to show for their research efforts. Many brand managers have tried to secure adequate funding for social media efforts, but leave off the crucial analysis component, which is how they can prove ROI. If you’ve found it hard to convince upper management to expand online promotional efforts, this could be the source of your challenge.
Valuable customer insights are gained by understanding the online data in the context of your brand. This happens by layering your analyses with specific criteria, filters and themes that reveal decision-making intel. Having the ability to parse insight to extract intel specific to the topic, product or audience you are investigating is important.
How to Gather Customer Insights
Advances in technology and the field of research have made it easy for businesses to obtain customer data. However, while many have sufficient quantities of relevant data available to them, a large portion of companies do not have the ability to gather these customer insights in one place. There’s a lot of data out there, so the challenge is understandable
1. Customer sentiment analysis
Social sentiment is the general attitude of consumers around your brand as indicated by their online behavior. Customer sentiment analysis is important because it reveals how customers feel about your brand, which certainly impacts purchasing decisions of other consumers. Understanding what is being said and how consumers are feeling gives you a chance to correct or improve areas identified that are driving a particular brand sentiment.
To perform customer sentiment analysis, you need a sentiment analysis tool. It takes data gathered through social listening and digests it to reveal the emotions expressed in social media posts by your customers. With NetBase Quid®, you can quickly see customer conversations as well as an aggregate sentiment score that ranks on a scale from -100 to 100. And you can compare these metrics against competitors over time, making your relative position easy to monitor and improve:
2. Website analytics
Your website visitors leave you a great amount of data about themselves simply by interacting with the site. Website analytics refers to all that goes into collecting this data and understanding the people behind it. It can help you gather important insights on your own customers.
There are website analytics tools to help you not just collect customer data but also optimize the performance of your site by reporting important metrics such as page views, visitors, traffic sources, and site speed, among others. There are also tools designed for specific types of websites such as ecommerce stores. One of the most popular website analytics tools is Google Analytics, a free offering from Google. And it offers learning components to get you started.
3. Competitor analysis
Brands use competitor analysis to gather customer insights to track relative market position, but also to better serve an increasingly fickle consumer base. In competitor analysis for customer insight, you are focused on how products and marketing resonates with a target audience.
In this case, you exclude features otherwise important to the process such as their patent applications and M&As and instead focus on competitor reviews by their own customers, their marketing communications on social media, and data on their product sales. This will tell you a great deal about emerging customer trends and customer expectations.
You can upload relevant data for analysis into our platform for ongoing monitoring and analysis. And from a day-to-day perspective, we help clients set up dashboards with daily competitor alerts tracking the social media space in our Rival IQ offering, which users can toggle over to from their main NetBase Quid® login. The options there are extensive and game changing.
4. Review analysis
Your own customer reviews contain great insights that you can use to improve your performance. If you make it easy for your customers to leave feedback on their experience, they will. Research shows that more than 80% of customers write up to four reviews per year.
The best way to manage reviews is through a customer relationship management (CRM) software that lets you collect and analyze customer feedback. Salesforce is one of the most popular CRM platforms but be sure to do some digging to find what works best for your business. Keep in mind that while some customers may directly give their feedback, others may post it on review sites and forums. We help you scour the web to find such hidden feedback so you don’t miss anything important.
How to Apply Customer Insights
Businesses use customer insights in a variety of ways depending on their needs. Some of NetBase Quid users apply customer insights to develop strategic partnerships e.g. Walmart. Others have applied what they learned to optimize their marketing campaigns e.g. Coca-Cola. There are others who use customer insights to advise their own clients e.g. 113 Industries.
There really isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to how to apply the customer insights you discover in your data. However, we can offer you some ideas based on what we have observed from working with leading brands across the world, and in virtually all industries
1. Create next-level buyer personas and categories
Do you remember creating buyer personas for your business? They helped you better understand the type of customer that you wanted for your products and services. However, as you got to understand them through experience, you might have had to make some changes.
Because customer insights give you a clearer understanding of your customers, you can use this information to affirm or correct some of the assumptions you likely have made about them. With these insights, you can improve your targeting and even change your target, as needed. And best of all – you can do it with confidence as you’re making data-driven decisions, rather than relying on guesswork or small sample sizes.
2. More personalized marketing
Personalized marketing relies on a nuanced understanding of your audience. To be able to craft appealing messages and deliver individualized content to your audience, you have to dig deep below the surface.
And if you understand your customers, you have a good chance of reaching your audience – as well as new audiences you would have overlooked otherwise. This is because the two groups of people seeking solutions to address similar problem have similarities that you can leverage in your marketing and potentially create a new category in the process!
3. Identify and address market gaps
Unaddressed needs in the market are opportunities for you. You can use customer insights to identify these opportunities and take advantage of them in a number of ways.
First, your customer insights can reveal your strengths against the competition. This automatically tells you that there is something your customers are getting that those of your competition aren’t – and are probably not aware of what they are missing. Second, customer insights can reveal your weaknesses. And be careful here, as this is a gap that can be filled by those who are better at listening to customer needs. Knowing that these challenges exist is a step towards addressing it.
Customer insights also reveal emerging trends allowing you enough time to prepare for them in advance – and to jump on the right trends early, winning market share in the process.
4. Achieve product-market fit
Product-market fit refers to the ability of a product to solve the problem it’s designed to solve. Brands that have achieved this have fewer challenges trying to keep their customers and acquire news ones. However, not achieving product-market fit doesn’t always mean total failure. Some products have a chance to grow into the ideal solution. But this window should not be abused.
You can use customer insights to know where your product or service falls short so you can improve before customers lose patience. When customers see that their concerns are being heard and addressed, they’re lots more likely to stick around than those who aren’t feeling appreciated!
5. Improve customer satisfaction
Satisfaction is an important factor in subsequent customer buying decisions. But what are the factors that influence customer satisfaction? Product-market fit, just discussed, is important; but it is not the only factor. Sometimes it’s not even the most important. Customer service is another important factor. Others include accessibility of the product, affordability, and employee satisfaction.
Businesses that learn how to derive customer insights from their data and apply them to their operations soon find themselves with great strategic advantages. They are better at upselling, retaining customers, and improving loyalty. They can also discover advantages that would have been otherwise hidden from them. Further, they gain a competitive advantage by having a superior understanding of their playing field.
NetBase Quid and Rival IQ are built for businesses that aspire for more. Designed on cutting edge AI technology, the platform solves most of the complex research problems in the current digital, global business environment. How do we do this? Reach out for a demo today and we will show you.