Getting to know your customers should be an ongoing part of your strategy.

When running a business, a strong customer base is one of the most important ingredients for your success. Just as you need to get to know your closest friends to create long-lasting bonds, you need to understand your target audience to build and sustain customer loyalty. Consumer insights can help you dive deeper into what motivates customers and increase sales.

What are consumer insights?

Consumer insights—sometimes known as customer insights—are actionable conclusions drawn from customer data. Insights tell you why consumers behave in a certain way in regards to a brand, marketing collateral, and other factors that may influence their purchases. When you put these actionable insights to use, you should be able to gain a deeper understanding of consumer behavior overall.

Having consumer insights can get you many steps closer to achieving your business goals. By helping you better understand the people you’re trying to reach, they can help you turn your business into a customer-centric company that knows what buyers want. While you stay one step ahead of your competitors, you’ll be able to perfect the customer experience for the mutual benefit of you and your buyers.

Collecting Consumer Insights

The process to collect consumer insights isn’t as simple as your standard market research. While market research helps you gain customer data points about the makeup and needs of an entire market, consumer insights dig deeper to find patterns in behavior, sentiment, and motivations.

A good insight should always be new to you and highly actionable—a piece of information that can shape your marketing strategy and influence a shopper’s actions. To collect these great consumer insights, you need to gather more qualitative data than you would with simple market research. Here are three of the best digital sources you can look toward for insights:

1. Social media

With 79% of the U.S. population having a profile on a social networking site, social media platforms are great places to find up-to-date consumer insights. Through social media, you can get insights about how people are reacting to your posts, products, and general brand, and compare those reactions to those from your competitors’ fans.

Social media comments and reactions are a particularly great source of customer opinions. More so than any other sources on our list, social media tends to provide real-time insights, so you can easily track changes over small and large periods of time.

2. Online reviews

The value of online reviews goes beyond building your online reputation. They also help you better understand what your consumers like and dislike about your business based on both quantitative data (star ratings) and qualitative data (comments and details).

Reviews can also tell you what factors will completely change a customer’s opinion. When looking at feedback on the online review sites you’re active on, look for patterns in what leads to a five-star rating, a four-star rating, and so forth. Also consider what actions you have personally taken, if any, that inspired consumers to change a negative rating.

If the amount of online reviews you have to work off of is scant, the good news is that 77% of consumers will leave a review if asked. Simply reach out to your customer base for their feedback or use a tool like Podium Reviews to automate your review invite process and expedite your consumer insight collection process.

3. Focus groups

A focus group is traditionally a small gathering of consumers who provide feedback about a given brand, new product, marketing message, and more. With plenty of online communication channels readily available, focus groups can easily be conducted through a digital screen.

Focus groups are a valuable source for insights because they start a conversation. You don’t just get a consumer’s final answers. From focus groups conducted over a video call or in person, you also get their full thought process as they think out loud to answer your prompts. From online forums, social media groups, audio-based studies, and other forms of focus groups, you’ll get more free-form responses that dive deeper into the subjects you want to learn about.

Many market researchers send out a customer survey prior to forming focus groups to gather demographic information and find people interested in taking part. This will help you choose participants who truly represent your target audience.

How to Use Consumer Insights

Once you have a list of strong consumer insights, you need to put them into action. Updating your strategy with consumers in mind is a great way to attract new leads while building customer retention. Here are three examples of how you can best use your consumer insights to guide your business decisions:

1. Reshape your strategy

When you learn something new about your consumers, it’s important to be proactive instead of letting that valuable knowledge get left behind. After compiling your list of actionable insights, create a few customer personas based on what you have learned.

Then think about whether or not they still fit into your marketing plan and customer journey. If so, are there any ways you can better cater the customer experience to them? If not, what changes do you need to make? Do you need to change a product or do you need to change perceptions about your brand?

Staying on top of consumer insights can help you make continuous improvements to your business, instead of leaving you scrambling to keep up later.

2. Personalize your marketing

Because consumer insights can tell you much more about your own customer base than market research can, they’re powerful tools for upping your personalization. Once you have your customer personas detailed, you can work on segmenting your leads and customer base based on differences in why they buy—perhaps using CRM software to help you out.

With your audience properly segmented, you can create marketing plans that are specifically designed for members of a given audience. This way, consumers will better relate to your messages and get inspired to make a purchase.

With personalized recommendations leading to a 38% revenue increase from a single product alone, consumer insights can give you a leg up in your industry.

3. Analyze your competitors

One final example of how you can effectively use your consumer insights is analyzing your competitors. When you understand the mindset of your target audience and can anticipate their reactions, you’ll better be able to gauge two things:

  1. How consumers perceive your competitors
  2. Where you stand in relation to your competitors

This can reveal where other companies are falling short—and even what products, features, and services that no company is providing at all—so you can capitalize on those areas. They can also show you where you can do better to match or beat your competitors’ offers.

As you use your consumer insights to analyze competitors and make changes in your own business, you’ll keep your current customers happy, so they don’t leave you for another company.

Show Your Customers How Much You Care

Your customers will always have the power to choose the business that treats them the best. Through the use of consumer insights, you can prove your business to be highly customer-centric, taking into account your buyers’ needs instead of just your own.

Letting your leads and customers guide the direction your business takes will help them feel fully cared for, inspired to buy, and—best of all—loyal. Learn more about why customers should be your main focus to increase sales.

Matt Boyce
Matt Boyce Head of SMB Marketing

Matt Boyce is a marketing and business professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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