Some business decisions, regardless of the amount of planning, risk assessment and due diligence that go into them, are big enough that they’ll always feel like taking a leap of faith.
Whenever you’re making a dramatic change to your business’s offering, identity or plans for the future, there will always be some element of uncertainty – but with the help of market research, particularly in the form of genuine customer feedback, you can make these daunting decisions as informed as possible.
As part of our suite of customer engagement software, we give brands access to market research tools such as polls and questionnaires – and in this post, we’re exploring the features, uses and benefits of market research to open your eyes to the vast potential of this business multi-tool.
Expanding your product or service offering
Over time, every thriving business will make the decision to build on their success by expanding their range of products or services – but with ideas galore when it comes to expansion, choosing which of those ideas to prioritise can be a challenge. To avoid going in blind, why not put some of the control in the hands of your customer base? After all, you’ve only gotten this far by keeping them on side.
If you’re toying with a few different potential products or services that would expand on your core offering, serving your customers a poll where vote for whichever of these options they’d most like to see from you next will not only make them feel heard and valued, but also give you confidence that the path you take will be the one most likely to prove profitable.
Customer persona modelling
This may not seem like the biggest business decision in the world, but, in truth, this vital business decision has a direct impact on all of your marketing activity that follows. Whether you’re putting together customer personas for the first time or refining existing personas for more targeted brand messaging in the future, knowing who your typical customer is – from their age, gender and location to interests and shopping behaviour – helps you know how to communicate with them and how to encourage them to convert.
With market research tools at your disposal, you can use polling features to gather key information on your customer base – allowing them to identify their own needs, priorities, interests and more to supplement existing user personas pieced together from data sources such as Google Analytics. Combined, this will make for well-rounded customer personas informed by both genuine user behaviour and genuine user feedback.
Rebranding your business
A rebrand is a serious undertaking for any company, not least due to the balancing act of working to retain loyal customers through a period of change while also inspiring new ones to climb aboard for the first time. Of course, a rebrand can range from something as minor as a refresh of your brand imagery to the far more meaningful transition from one brand identity to another entirely different one. Regardless of your aims, though, the benefits of market research certainly apply to this consequential business decision.
Whether it’s a questionnaire sent out to existing and potential customers or a poll presented to your brand community in the early stages of planning your rebrand, find a way to seize this golden opportunity. Use market research to your advantage, gaining valuable feedback on what is and isn’t resonating about your existing brand image, and prompting valuable input on how your company could better appeal to those most qualified to make that decision.
Sales and revenue projections
When the time comes to forecast how you expect your business to perform in the financial year ahead, this high-stakes activity will benefit greatly from market research support. Naturally, you’ll need to give due consideration to emerging and evolving consumer trends, factoring changing user needs into your projections. On top of that, though, by conducting your own independent customer research, you can complement this industry data to drive more informed decisions.
By profiling your different types of customer and aligning these customer types with industry trends, you’ll be able to better predict how your own customers’ needs and behaviours may evolve in the short, medium and long term. So, put together whatever polls, questionnaires and other fact-finding resources you feel are necessary to gather the information you need. This way, you can back your projections with authentic feedback from your engaged community.
Allocating marketing budgets
The all-important decision of how to distribute marketing budgets among the various channels at your disposal isn’t one to be taken lightly. Needless to say, a deep understanding of the ROIs these different channels deliver should fuel your decision-making, with lower-cost, higher-return channels being an undeniably safe bet. Where these truths are less self-evident, the importance of market research becomes crystal clear.
Asking your audience which channels of communication they find most effective or engaging is a great supportive exercise for deciding where the lion’s share of your marketing budget should be spent.
Of course, this isn’t an exact science – not all of us are self-aware when it comes to the marketing channels that influence our buying behaviour. Nonetheless, taking the temperature of your brand community when it comes to which forms of marketing they’re most predisposed to engage with is highly worthwhile and, again, demonstrates to your customer base that you’re willing and able to speak their language.
Improving your customer service
Customer service should be subject to continuous refinement – you can always be better, faster, more accommodating and more knowledgeable. What you can’t always do is read customers’ minds – making market research a vital tool for gathering unfiltered yet constructive feedback on how you approach everything from general customer queries to more contentious matters like complaints.
If ever in doubt about how your business could improve its customer relations, ask the people best placed to comment. You may want to pose multiple-choice questions asking which areas of your customer service could be better, or, alternatively, take a more open-ended approach designed to generate any and all feedback on what more your customers would ask of you, if anything. The choice is ultimately yours – and the options are practically endless.
No business can afford to underestimate the importance of market research. An all-in-one company toolkit able to carve a path for everything from product launches to sales projections, this is an often-overlooked asset we love helping brands get to grips with for the first time.
Explore the perks of being a Six Circles member today and request a live demo to dip your toe into the world of custom market research.