How to research our users
It can be extremely helpful to get out from behind our desks and talk to people we feel would find enjoyment in possibly using our product.
A short conversation with even four or five ideal potential users can reveal much about what our product or service should do and why they might purchase. From these informal interviews we can start to construct the user persona or instead we might find that we do not have a good product/market fit.
Obviously, it is much better to discover this now and reshift how we’re designing our marketing strategy before plunging ahead on very little true understanding of our customers’ needs and desires.
Steps for doing basic competitive market research in the digital age:
Note: The tactics and methods to do in-depth secondary market research are well beyond the scope of this text but there are a variety of great books and resources online. Below is a general method for helping build out a user persona.
- The first step is to evaluate the product or services’ functional benefits and then ask ourselves “what else is out there”? Google around for various search terms and make a list of who comes up on the first page. The famous SWOT analysis method can be helpful for evaluating internal and external market opportunities.
- Next, we can do a competitive audit for the industry and identify the market leaders. Knowing these players, we can use our local university or public library databases and Google to research things like yearly revenue, sales growth, and possible distribution channels. If the company is publicly traded, SEC filings can be helpful depending on the granularity of the filing.
This secondary research helps us evaluate a market opportunity and gives us some numbers to have confidence in our assumptions when we go to build a marketing and sales model. This is pretty standard basic practice for most marketing initiatives.
- Now, we can dive into the juicy parts. We can start to evaluate what our competitors’ brand experience is like. We would begin listening on Twitter and Google Alerts. Scouring Facebook for brand mentions and reviewing their fan pages for engagement and content. Scanning our competitors’ blogs for comments and how the company interacts and treats its users is another opportunity to learn.
- Next up, we would evaluate the customer buying experience funnel. This would include everything from search results to their ecommerce or in-store experience. We would be looking for ways to enhance the experience from first point of contact all the way to checkout either online or in a store. Constantly asking ourselves, “Where can we make this better? More remarkable? More valuable in exchange for their time?”
- If it’s a product company we are marketing, we can read over the user reviews on sites like Amazon. These offer tremendous clues on what works and what doesn’t in the entire brand experience. If it’s a service based company check out Google Reviews or Yelp! for customer feedback.