The global market research industry was worth over $76 billion dollars in 2018, and is only increasing. It’s no wonder why.

Companies that hit the nail on the customer experience head consistently edge out the competition. Consider the following stats if you need a little extra convincing:

  • 86% of consumers are willing to pay for a better customer experience.
  • Organizations that earn $1 billion annually can expect to earn an additional $700 million within 3 years of investing in customer experience, on average.
  • 97% of study respondents said they are somewhat likely to become more loyal patrons when a company implements their feedback.

Gaining customer insights is worth its weight in gold, but it’s unlikely to happen unless you hone your market research skills. According to Product Management Insider, there are 3 levels of customer research that will help you conduct an air-tight study: macro, meso, and micro. Here’s a quick overview.

1. Macro level of customer research

To understand your customers,you must have a comprehensive understanding of the market and industry where your customers live and purchase. Here are 4 things to look at that will give you a broad view of the market above:

Reference industry reports. Google is the perfect place to look for an industry report in your market. Depending on your budget, you can either purchase a full report or read summaries.

Determine market size. Find your market size by looking for the price competitors charge your customers and estimate your share.

Segment the market. You can find your target audience by dividing the market into different types of buyers. Then, choose one to start with.

Evaluate market trends. Read industry articles and blogs to understand industry trends and themes that are important to your segment.

2. Meso level of customer research

Once you have a strong hold on trends in your market, customer base, and industry, it’s time to look at user personas and competitors. Here’s how.

Create customer profiles. Collecting information on your buyers and users will help you fine-tune your research. Consider things like jobs, educational background, and demographics.

Scour online communities. Tools like Reddit, Slack, LinkedIn, and Facebook hold valuable troves of information about what makes your target audience tick.

Research your competitors. How are other companies approaching the same market problems as you? What are they doing well? Where are the gaps? How does your value proposition compare to that of your competitors?

3. Micro level of customer research

Once you have looked into your market, competitors, and created customer profiles, it’s time to start eliciting feedback from your target audience. There are several ways to do this, but starting with solid qualitative research will help you gather rich insights. Engage in any of the following methods for direct feedback.

Conduct customer interviews. Direct conversation with your target audience will give you help you understand customer pain points and top needs.

Attend industry conferences. You might not be able to conduct formal interviews at industry conferences, but you will be able to assume the role of attentive observer. What you hear and see at conferences can provide deep insight into what your customers want.

Once you’ve gained a good understanding of pain points, you can fine-tune your research by engaging in quantitative research.

Administer a survey. If you have access to a large amount of respondents, surveys are a great way to pinpoint customer needs.

Wrap Up

Conducting customer research is more than sending out a survey. To gain valuable insights that inform your business and provide a better customer experience, you have to look at the industry as a whole, competitors and users, and talk to your customers directly.