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Customer Research Techniques That Increase Sales

Do you know what your customer is thinking? If the answer is no, how do you plan on making any sales? How do you even know what to do next? I’m going to show how to figure out what your customer thinking in 6 steps – right now.

This is what we will cover:

  1. Why this matters
  2. Demographics
  3. Psychographics
  4. Customer Behavior
  5. Using your persona
  6. How to maximize your impact

Step 1. Why This Matters

A lot of content producers make the mistake of spending a massive amount of time on SEO and other traffic tactics before getting a real understanding of their target market. This is a massive mistake. If you attract the wrong people they will have no interest in your content or your products and services.

There’s simply no point in bringing people to your website if you’re not confident that you’re offering the exact thing that those specific people want.

You’re probably thinking, well it’s impossible to know what hundreds of thousands of different people want. And you’re right.

This is why you need to create a “persona” of your customer. This is the process of creating a detailed profile of a typical customer and it allows you to create products, features, marketing materials and other content for one imaginary person that represents your ideal customer.

This is obviously much easier than speculating about the needs of thousands or millions of different people.

Let’s assume in this video that we will create a blog or a product or service for people that like hiking.

Step 2 Demographics

The first step is the easiest – researching the demographics of the customer. This can include any statistic that describes your typical customer. This is a list of the most common stats:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Educational level
  • Income
  • Ethnicity
  • Number of children
  • Marital status

If you already have traffic coming into your website it’s relatively easy to figure out the demographics. All you need to do is install Google analytics and it will tell you everything you need. If you have an active Facebook presence you can also get demographic information from the analytics in Facebook.

However, it’s likely that you’re watching this video because you’re just getting started and need to know how to get demographic information while having no existing customers. In this case, you can do your best to predict your customer persona.

A Good place to start is the Google display planner. Just Google “Google display planner”, signup if you don’t have an account then enter your keyword into the planner.

It will generate information about age, gender and device preferences and a long list of other demographic information about the people that are interested in the topic of your keyword.

Go ahead and repeat this for several related keywords and look for trends. In this example, you can see that people of all ages do enjoy hiking.

There are a lot of people that enjoy hiking between the ages of 18 and 64.

Let’s look at gender. In this case, it does look like hiking is a little bit more popular with males that it is with females but you probably should assume that your customers will be both male and female.

Now let’s look at the device breakdown. Your target customer seems to heavily favor the use of mobile devices over desktop devices.

Now, as you review this data, think about what you plan to offer your customers. Let’s assume that you plan to offer content that your customers will use while hiking, like maybe some kind of online guide for hiking trials that tells people what to expect at different sections of a specific trail.

In this case, it’s obvious that 100% of your customers in this scenario we’ll be consuming your content on a mobile device. People won’t carrying their desktops around while hiking.

The conclusion to draw from this is that you don’t want to alienate anybody based on age or gender but you do want to ensure that your content is extremely easy to consume on a mobile device and you can almost ignore desktops.

Step 3 Psychographics

Psychographics allow you to add an additional layer of information to your persona by also defining your customers values, preferences, and attitudes. You can do this by you considering the following questions:

  • What are the most common questions that they have about your product or topic?
  • How knowledgeable are they about your niche?
  • How important is your product or niche to them? Is it just a hobby part of their job?
  • Why would they even want to learn about you?

Answers to these questions are obviously not found in analytics tools. You’ll need to get this information by observing or maybe even interact with your potential customers. If you already know about forums and groups that attract your audience then you need to spend some quality time reading as many questions and answers as possible in order to get a detailed understanding of your customer.

Look for information about what they like and don’t like. Look for common problems where people are struggling to find satisfactory solutions. Think about how your content and your products would be perceived by these people. What do you think they would like or not like about your content or your products? Do you need to add or subtract features in order for your products or services to appeal to these potential customers? Do you need to add or subtract content in order to appeal to these potential customers?

If you don’t have any forums of groups in mind you can obviously just Google them but one good place to start is Reddit. The reason Reddit is useful is that it usually has a very large number of participants and this is obviously important when you’re trying to develop a persona.

You need your persona to reflect the needs of your entire audience rather than a small number of individuals that might dominate the discussion on a small forum.

The other reason that Reddit it Is useful is that it uses the concept of upvoting. This makes it easy for you to see what your audience likes and doesn’t like because they’re literally voting on what they like and don’t like.

Step 4 Customer Behavior

You spent a lot of time looking at what people are saying but interestingly people don’t always act in a way that is consistent with what they say. For example, there’re a lot of people that pretend to read a lot more than they actually do. If you’re planning on offering content that will attract real paying customers then you need to understand how people actually consume content, and their actual buying behavior, rather than just relying on what they say.

You need to know:

  • What formats do they prefer – text, video, audio?
  • How often? Daily, weekly monthly?
  • What length of content do they prefer?

You can get some answers by going back to the forums. When people link to content from a post do they link to a video or a blog post? I if they’re linking to videos, take a look at the videos. Do they have a large number of views? More importantly, look at the like to dislike ratio. If it is very high this could be an indication that people prefer to consume this particular type of content by video. If they link out to blog posts, take a look at the blog posts. Do they consist of brief summaries or do they include a long-form content that goes into a lot of detail?

You also need to research the issue of credibility. If you want people to consume your content or buy your products and services you need to establish your credibility first.

Take a look at the comments in the forums and groups and figure out who seems to have developed credibility and who hasn’t. For those that have developed credibility try to figure out why? Is it their background? Is it simply the result of a lot of activity in this group or forum? What do you need to do to build credibility in the eyes of the same people?

Step 5 Using Your Persona

Now that you have built your first persona, you need to start using it. Some people like to give their persona a name. I don’t find this necessary but if it helps to complete the persona you should feel free to go ahead and do it.

You also need to start turning all of the bullet points into sentences. For example:

Elizabeth & Robert stone are in their mid 30’s and are parents with two children aged 5 and 8. Their household income is  approx $70,000 per year. They like to go hiking once a week on Saturday mornings at a hiking trail near their house. They also like to take one week off per year to travel with their friends to a remote place and do a more challenging hike. They do a lot of research before deciding on the hiking location and prefer long form content over the short form content.

So that’s it. Every time you create any content you can do it with this persona in mind.

If you find over time that your particular style or products and services appeal to a slightly different persona then you have the choice of adjusting your content or adjusting your persona.

You also have the option of creating more than one persona if your product or content appeals to different people. For example, hiking and mountaineering have some overlap but the persona of one will be very different form the other. Either way, you will be executing a plan rather than hoping that things magically work out.

Step 6 How to maximize your impact

How do you do customer research that maximizes your impact on your customers? This is pretty simple – review the research from a maximum positive impact point of view and make a list of features or content you need to provide that will have the biggest positive impact on your customers.