Consumers. You can’t always trust them to tell you exactly what they want, and it can be hard to determine their needs based on intuition. That’s why we always recommend making decisions about your business based on data. So what kind of data will help you determine a consumer’s wants and needs? We have a few ideas:
Social Research + Intelligence
Social intelligence is something that we really believe in. It entails social media monitoring (or listening) to public consumer updates on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, in blogs, forums and more. Whenever a consumer discusses your product, brand or competition, you can be privvy to what they say (as long as their comments are public). How does this help? Well, for starters, you can assess consumer sentiment about your brand and products or services. If there is an area that you need to improve, we can guarantee that a consumer is talking about it right now online. This feedback can be indispensable because it can lead you to make data-driven business decisions based on what consumers want. Instead of creating a focus group or interfering with their time on your site with surveys, you can obtain unsolicited (ie: unfiltered) and real-time opinions that can help you make better business choices. What kinds of better business choices can be based off of social intelligence? Here are just a few examples:
1. Improve marketing. Sure, you know that your red velvet cupcakes sell the best, but do you know why? Perhaps it’s the icing consistency, perhaps it’s the price, or perhaps it’s the one that is always available at 3pm when most people crave sugar. There are so many reasons out there for you to consider. If you tap into the minds of the consumer, it may help narrow down your reasons, thus improving your marketing. Let’s say it’s the icing. You can start a campaign that tells consumers that this particular icing is now available on every flavor of cake. Let’s say it’s the 3pm availability. You can create a campaign that is targeted at afternoon snackers and tailor messaging directly to them.
2. Improve customer service. Perhaps it’s not cupcakes. Instead, you are a dentist. As you glean insights from your social research, you notice that the waiting room comes up as a sticking point for most patients. In fact, it may keep them from returning to your business. You can then set out to improve upon this aspect of your business: you could implement scheduling changes to decrease the time customers spend in the waiting room, or work on making your waiting room nicer. Add magazines, a coffee maker, a TV, a vending machine–whatever! Now you’ve provided customers with an additional reason to come back to your business.
3. Find out what your competition is up to. Sure, there are plenty of ways to assess your competition, but none may be as detailed as what you will hear from your customers. Therefore, it is important to create a social research strategy that encompasses your competition. What are consumers comparing about your two businesses? How does each succeed and where can each improve? You can glean information about what customers think regarding your competitions’ promotions, warranty and/or policies, guarantees and their loyalty to the brand. This will help you determine ways in which you can gain a competitive edge.
Price Sensitivity Analysis
Many businesses set their prices and forget it for years, but this does not optimize your business, as your margins and overhead fluctuate far more often. Price sensitivity analysis essentially aims to find the optimal combination of your cost incurred, your price point and consumer demand. Creating a graph that manipulates these variables allows you to determine at what price point consumers will buy the product or service from you (and not your competitors) and at what price point allows you to maximize profit. To assess how much consumers are willing to pay, you can look at historical data like trended demand over time, or simply submit a survey.
Our last idea for aligning your business with consumer needs is user-experience testing. This takes place online and is a way for you to tell how your website performs with consumers. Your website is usually the first impression a consumer has about your brand nowadays. If they have a bad experience the first time, they will find other places to visit the next time they’re in the purchase consideration phase. If they have trouble loading your site, navigating its pages, if they are subjected to ugly 404 pages or reach roadblocks in your conversion funnel, you can bet that they will not return. Therefore, it is important to marry your data and creative in order to create a website that is aesthetically pleasing, search engine-friendly and, most importantly, user friendly.
To do this, you must monitor users’ reactions and engagement with your website. Then collect and analyze user feedback in order to create the optimal user experience. This will give you insight into what consumers find most valuable about your site, which gives you the opportunity to expand that offering or component. You can gain insight about your website’s design, copy, navigability and more, which will allow you to make decisions that positively impact your business. Let’s say, for example, that you’re trying to sell a product, but most consumers are coming to your site just to get reviews and information. It’s time to discover ways in which you can enhance the profitability of the site and capture consumers who are lower in the purchase funnel. This can all be done with user-experience testing.
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