Foolproof Research Methods for Identifying Your Customer’s Needs

When was the last time you looked at your site’s copy from the perspective of your customers? If it’s been a while, your website might need some love. But before writing a word of website or landing page copy, there is something very important you want to do to make those words count. 

Ask probing questions. And I’m talking about digging deep to identify customer needs beyond “how do you like our products?”. 

Without understanding what annoys your customers, keeps them happy, or frustrates them, writing copy that resonates is harder. For businesses that make customer research part of their marketing strategy, it can improve their conversion rates by 8% or more.

So, how do you even begin to get this sweet customer data and map out all of these valuable insights to the copy on your website?

Let’s dig in.  

Identifying customer needs by listening everywhere

If you listen closely (literally and figuratively), your customers will give you all the goods on their preferences, desired outcomes, and what keeps them up at night, among other things. And this information gives you—and your business—an incredible advantage. 

You’ll have the perspective needed to target customers with messaging that makes them think you have a front-row seat to what’s happening in their heads. 

So, let’s talk about qualitative research for a second and how it helps you get customer feedback you can use. 

Qualitative research collects data on customer experiences, opinions, and competitors, both direct and indirect. Unlike quantitative research, which only deals in numbers, qualitative research gives you information that builds more robust customer segments, showing a more holistic view of what’s happening in their heads.

It helps you identify customer needs and call out real-world problems they face. 

So yeah, I’m a fan. I would say that this type of research is one of the best ways to get Voice of Customer (VOC) data. VOC is the aggregate of all the information collected from the non-exhaustive list of methods below, then dividing it into different categories. 

In these categories, you’ll see glimmers of truth about how people really feel—and how you can meet their expectations.  

Social listening through Facebook, Instagram, or other platforms is a decent source to get this VOC data, but you can also find it elsewhere. Here are some of my favorite ways to get this information. 

Mining online reviews for golden insights 

Also known as “review mining,” this method involves observing what people say on Yelp, Amazon, or even your own website about what you or your competitors sell. This type of research tells you a ton about what did or didn’t work for people.

And yes, you have to be careful about reading too much into sickly sweet, positive reviews. Or those that demonize the product, the brand, and anyone involved in making it. Like most things dealing with the opinions and experiences of human beings, you can usually find great insights somewhere in the middle.

Review mining is also an excellent tactic to use when you’re launching a site for a new business or product that doesn’t have much data around it. It can help you pinpoint customer pain points and successes you can address in your site’s headlines and copy. 

Checking out customer surveys to reveal patterns

A well-designed survey does three things for both you and the person taking it:

  1. It keeps the person taking it engaged.
  2. Doesn’t overwhelm them, and;
  3. Ask the right questions while using logic-based paths

This is what helps you understand what makes the survey taker tick. From this, you’ll begin to see patterns form, which you can dig into like: 

  • Online customer support issues
  • User experience problems with website orders
  • New features potential customers want from your business

Since surveys provide closed answers, it’s a one-sided research method that leaves little room for following up directly with the person taking it. They’re still a good market research tool to collect data and tie it back to future product development and optimizing site usability.  

Asking the right questions in customer interviews

How much information can you get from your customers or clients in an hour or less? A ton. 

Interviews are one of my favorite qualitative research methods because they allow you to have an actual conversation. As an interviewer, you can pick up on voice inflections during the conversation.

These little cues guide you in deciding whether to delve deeper with follow-up questions or to wrap things up when you’ve exhausted the information provided. Things like voice inflections can reveal insights, hidden meanings, or areas of interest worth exploring. 

On the flip side, if the interviewee’s voice sounds dull or unresponsive, it may suggest that you’ve reached the limits of what they can—or are willing to—share. As you ask questions about your business and their experience with it, you want to pay attention to these nuances to navigate the discussion skillfully and extract valuable insights.

And when you have a good rapport and vibe with the person you’re talking to, the conversation in a customer interview flows naturally. It’s open-ended and tends to yield some candid feedback about their experiences. 

Reading through sales and customer service transcripts

Which, speaking of people talking about their experiences, those recorded calls between your sales reps and your customers? They’re a feedback goldmine. Transcripts reveal common themes, customer complaints, and outcomes they want to see or get that would add to their experiences with your company.

You can learn so much about your customers and their preferences by listening to these calls and analyzing the transcripts. It’s an opportunity to address their concerns, make necessary improvements, and help people understand that you’re listening and care.

It’s worth a look if you want to connect the dots between what your customers need and the words used to communicate on your website or landing page that you know what they are. 

Look at your data to find your customer’s desired outcome

After you have all of your VOC data, what comes next? It’s time to organize the information so that you can begin segmenting your buyers. From there, you can construct your website copy for prospective customers who will ultimately buy. 

The goal is to fill in the gaps for your target audience and work backward. What is their ideal, perfect scenario once they have your product or service? Then, figure out what life was like before that. 

By the time you’re done going through the data, you will have created an insanely vivid picture of your ideal reader—your buyer. 

As you look at the VOC data you’ve gathered, keep an eye out for: 

Unusual connections and patterns

Are you noticing anything, eh, interesting about what people are saying? And are a lot of them saying it? Take note and consider it one of the many patterns you’ll hopefully start to see as you analyze those Voice of Customer insights. You’ll begin to see that people will describe their experiences in the most unique ways. 

From their descriptions, you can create connections between what jobs your product or service needs to do to move people from lukewarm on a site to “take my money right now.”

Out-of-the-ordinary use cases

Not all customers will use your products or services as you intended. And this is definitely a good thing. 

If you start to identify specific use cases for your product outside the original ones you’ve already cited, they could lend themselves to being called out in your website or landing page copy. 

Including these customer use cases in your website or landing page copy helps you effectively communicate the value and benefits your product delivers. Prospective customers will be able to envision how your product makes a positive impact in their own lives. 

Highlighting these other use cases allows you to tap into different markets or customer segments that were otherwise hidden or ignored. 

Dreamworld scenarios and nightmares 

The future is hopefully bright for your customers. Or at least less stressful. 

Each of your customers has a goal they’re trying to accomplish or a lifestyle they want to live. They also have annoying, sometimes big problems causing them grief. 

When you see statements that lend themselves to this, pay attention because they’re the key to picking out which ones to focus on for your customer base in your copy.

Once you’ve pulled out the individual insights and categorized them, you can sort them further into different segments you can speak directly to. By the way, these aren’t buyer personas. At least not as you would traditionally think of them.

The segments you’re creating are your ideal readers. 

The ones who aren’t based on a specific demographic stating their age, relationship status, and how many pets they have. Instead, they’re the feedback profiles of people who want to solve a specific problem and have expectations that need to be shown to them in a message they understand.  

Mapping out the data you’ve found on your landing page

Now that you’ve identified patterns, themes, pain points, and everything else your current and future customers deal with, it’s time to put it into your copy. But where should it go, and how do you know what to use where?

Start off with the big three. The areas on your website that generally get the most attention, whether your reader skims or likes to read every word on the page. 

Pique people’s interest with your headlines and subheads

Headlines and subheads are probably the most critical pieces of copy on the page. And, like eye-catching images, they can make people stop and take notice. 

As readers scroll through your page, you’ve got to make sure your headlines grab their attention, hold it tight, and guide them to a place where they’re like, “Wow, I absolutely need to get my hands on that!” by the time they reach the end. 

With these bold, standalone lines of copy, you could address use cases and future states to help your readers see themselves in the copy. 

Build a story in your body copy

Once you’ve gotten someone’s attention with your headline, you have to tell a story that shows readers why your product is what they need to reach the outcome they want so much. 

You’re using the patterns you’ve identified in your Voice of Customer research to express the problems they’ve faced for so long, in some cases, far too long, and give them the confidence that you have the solution they’re looking for.

The real story in your copy is different from the one about your business. This one is about your customers. To reach them, you must reflect it back to them with the authenticity and sincerity their story deserves.

Amplifying your offer

A sweet offer is impossible to refuse. The insights collected from your customers and clients allow you to see exactly what causes them to hesitate. It could be that they’re queasy about the price of your product. Or don’t understand how it saves them time or makes work easier. 

With VOC data, you can meet their expectations, add more to your offer, and use your site’s copy to assuage people’s fears and objections.

Once you map out your data to your copy, you can see the flow of how people will go through it: naming your customers’ problem, acknowledging what they’re going through, and giving them a solution that removes the pain they’re feeling now and replaces it with the antidote.  

Turn your readers into loyal customers

Identifying what’s on your customers’ minds shines a light on the pains affecting them and the dreams they want to achieve. Their feedback about your products, services, and competitors gives you an edge. One you can use to make your site’s copy stronger, and stickier, helping potential customers see themselves on the page. 

Remember, you aren’t speaking to every reader. You’re talking to your ideal reader

These are the people who need to be taken on a journey to buy, whether it’s a short one or long and winding. Each word on the page serves as a trail of pebbles laid out to help them reach the point of saying “yes.” 

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