How to do customer research

If you want to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing, it’s important to understand your audience. Knowing how to do customer research makes that possible.

Customer research is the process of gathering information about your target customers and audience. Through this research, you can better understand your ideal buyer and then ensure that your marketing is relevant to them.

How to leverage the data from customer research

Through customer research, you learn important information about your target audience that helps you make well-informed decisions about your marketing strategy. For example, you might research where your target audience shops, at what price point they’re most likely to buy a product, what unique challenges and pain points they face, what factors influence their purchasing decisions, where they view advertising, and more.

With that information, you can ensure that you design everything — from your marketing messages to your product price — to appeal to that audience. You can also determine the best ways to reach your audience with marketing, whether that’s through social media channels or paid ads in magazines.

How to understand customers’ motivations

Your target audience doesn’t consist of just one type of customer. Instead, as you do your research, it’s important to consider the characteristics and motivations of these five main types of customers.

  • Potential customers are leads who you haven’t yet converted into buyers.
  • New customers have made their first purchase, and by giving them the right customer experience and making effective connections, you can convert them into repeat customers.
  • Impulsive customers may wander into your store or onto your website to browse. They aren’t looking for a particular product, but they may buy an item on impulse.
  • Discount customers may shop often, but they make their buying decisions based on their ability to find a good deal.
  • Loyal customers are those who make repeated purchases. These customers often drive a significant portion of your sales.

How to do customer research

Performing customer research is a multi-step process, but it’s worth the time you’ll invest. It’s also important to regularly conduct customer research so you’ll be aware of changing trends and be able to adapt your marketing appropriately.

Create buyer personas

Creating buyer personas can help you better understand and envision who your ideal customer is. These personas are fictionalized and generalized descriptions of your customers — think of highlighting the most common characteristics of your customers and collecting them in a single person.

When creating a persona, you’ll want to include key details like age, gender, location, occupation, income, and pain points or challenges. It’s likely that you may find you need to create several personas to best represent your target customers.

Use your data

To better understand your current customers, look at the data you’re already collecting. Social media and website analytics can provide important details about customer age and location as well as the types of content and products they engage with most. Take a look at your website data to see if you can identify which customers are repeat buyers and which products they purchase most often.

Ask your customers

Often, it’s best to get details directly from your customers, and many customers are happy to help brands they like. You might conduct a survey or focus group of your current customers, potentially gaining valuable information about what their buying habits are, what types of marketing they most connect with, and what motivates them to buy your products.

How to gather your customer research 

There are many different ways to connect with your customers and gain the information you need.

Customer reviews

Customer reviews may be full of important details about what prompted a customer to purchase a product, how they use it, and what they like and dislike about it. Simply reading your customer reviews online can help you better understand your buyers.

Social media

Your social media accounts also provide a wealth of information about your customers. Not only can you gain information from your social media audience statistics, but you can engage directly with your customers on these platforms. Don’t be afraid to ask your audience questions or share a brief poll to gather the information you need.


Surveys can be an excellent way to get detailed and highly specific information directly from your customers. Consider designing your own survey and asking your customers to complete it. Thank your customers for their time by offering them an entry into a prize giveaway. Jotform makes it easy to create and share your own custom survey.

How to get started with customer research

If you’ve never performed customer research before, then plan to spend some time creating personas and thinking deeply about the types of information that will be most helpful to your marketing. Fortunately, with the ability to create polls and surveys easily with Jotform, you have efficient, affordable, and professional tools at your fingertips that can make the process easier. Performing customer research can be an excellent investment that pays off with more effective marketing, so you can truly make the most of your marketing budget.

A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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