One of the most common business problems of all is that companies can’t read the minds of their customers (or their potential customers!). As technologically advanced as we are, we still haven’t quite gotten to the stage where we can do that particular trick.
With that particular restriction in mind, how is a company supposed to find out what people want to see in a particular product or service? Or what they think about their website? This isn’t information that it would simply be nice to have. For most businesses, this is utterly essential. Some seem to get by with some very good luck, always managing to please consumers with whatever they do. But most companies need to find out what people really think about both their company and the industry at large.
So we’re going to take a quick look at the ways in which you can find out more about what your userbase and your potential userbase are thinking.
To some, this will seem like way too obvious an answer. But a lot of companies simply neglect to consider surveys – or, worse, they go about surveys in completely the wrong way!
Surveys are an essential part of general customer research, and they don’t always require people to answer questions specifically about your product or service. There are businesses out there that can help you locate such data about the industry at large. But when it comes specifically to your product or service, you have to be careful about the questions and answers you provide to users.
There are a lot of key questions you should ensure are asked in a given survey. And people will often take a long time thinking about the sorts of questions they’ll provide. But most companies won’t give nearly as much thought to the type of answers they expect consumers to give. Here’s a tip: simply giving people a five-point Likert scale that basically only allows users to answer by degrees of satisfaction. (‘Satisfied’, ‘somewhat satisfied’, ‘extremely dissatisfied’, etc.) You should consider using different language here. Allow answers to be more specific to the question, and use terms like ‘frustrated’, ‘delighted’, and ‘disappointed’.
Search engine optimization
A lot of people only think about SEO in terms of digital marketing – which, of course, is its primary functioning. But good SEO can actually provide you with a lot of information that is vital for your company.
Because SEO requires a lot of data, achieved through keyword research and analytics, you get a deeper understanding of what people are actually searching for. Think about it: every day, millions of people go online and actually spell out their “intents” – if you want to know what it is people are looking for, then search engines are the key because people literally type out what it is they’re looking for on them!
Working with an SEO company such as Excelsior Internet Marketing will help you get access to the kind of analytical data you need. Experts in the field have the knowledge and tools to find out what keywords are hot at any given time. This gives you access to a wealth of information when it comes to what users are looking for in a product or service. Plus, y’know, you also get all the Internet marketing benefits that come with SEO anyway.
Your website is how the vast majority of people who find out about your business first learn about it. It’s their introduction to what you do and how you do it. The difficult thing about designing a website is that, even with expert web designers helping you out, it’s difficult to tell exactly what it is that users end up paying most attention to on your webpages.
This is where heat maps come in handy. They provide you with a visualization of what your website users are actually clicking on and where their attention is most likely to be concentrated. This is represented with ‘heat indication’ – areas with a lot of clicks appear red, for instance. It also shows you how far users tend to scroll down on your webpages.
This can give you invaluable information when it comes to your website’s usability, too. Let;s say you find out that a lot of users are clicking on an area that doesn’t really do anything. Through surveying, you can then find out why they’re clicking in that area. It’s possible they’re expecting something to happen – for example, a social media sharing widget to appear. This is something you can then implement for increased usability and satisfaction.
At the end of the day, getting users to test your product, service, or website before general release is going to give you some of the best indications about the end experience possible. A lot of business owners tend to think that professional testers aren’t very good at representing the ‘end users’, because they have to take a professional mindset to the task. But testers are actually very likely to have opinions that match those of the end users.
You can get testing for pretty much anything. If you have a particular product, you can either hire a business to help you out with user testing, or you can contact critics who work in the field who would be able to give you a preliminary review (just make sure they’re willing to do this without publishing their thoughts on their blog or in a magazine!).
User testing of a website can also be accomplished on websites such as (wait for it…) UserTesting. You can even get videos of people using your website! Good services will also allow you to be in touch with the testers in question, which allows you both to work together to create something that’s more pleasant to use.
Search for yourself on social media
Sure, it doesn’t sound as professional as the other methods here. But just remember how honest people can be over social media when it comes to their experiences about a particular industry. Twitter, in particular, is one of the best ways to gauge general reactions about particular products and events.