Fortunately, there are lots of inexpensive online techniques that can provide a goldmine of customer insight and competitive intelligence. Most don’t cost a dime, but simply require a little detective work.
Here are some ways you can use online information for your business:
Glean competitive intelligence from your competitor’s websites and social media outposts. Learn about new products and plans, such as what promotions are going on, pricing, plans to expand locations, etc.
- Troll for customer comments and topic posts that get a big reaction. See what customers are passionate about, both positive and negative, to come up with new products, services and promotions for your business.
Tip: The social media outposts of national brands with a similar product lines are especially rich with customer comments and reactions.
- Seek out and use online forums and communities to uncover gems of information relating to customer attitudes and habits, and their pain points.
- Do an annual customer satisfaction survey with your customers. While this is not a use of social media, it is inexpensive and easy to do. Ask targeted questions about what you are doing right and what they dislike, and solicit suggestions for improvement.
Unexpected bonus: open ended questions are likely to yield favorable comments from brand loyalists. Use these testimonials on websites and in other materials. (Survey Monkey is a very easy-to-use tool for this purpose).
- Poll your target audience in social media, using tools such as the polling feature on Linked in and the Poll application on Facebook. (note: suggested by online marketer Eric Bryant, whose latest innovation for social media PR is a great and easy to use social listening tool. )
What online information have you found helpful for gaining customer insights and clarity related to your business?