10 Essential Tools For Scalable Customer Research Projects

Gleaning audience insights at scale can be challenging.

Modern B2C brands manage relationships with thousands if not millions of customers at a time, and it doesn’t take long before they start running into the limitations of traditional research methods. Customer interviews might yield macro-scale insights, but as digital products trend more and more towards larger, more personalized audiences, that sort of high-level feedback is becoming less and less useful. Thankfully, there are tools available to help mobile marketers navigate, consolidate and analyze large amounts of customer data both inside and outside of their apps.

To start, social media platforms are invaluable for marketers looking to find and engage self-organized customer communities. Once discovered, social network analysis tools can help marketers identify behavioral trends in a target audience. Online survey software helps marketers dig even deeper, gathering actionable data directly from customers willing to volunteer their time. Finally, first-party data offers marketers the most detailed and reliable insights into customer behavior. Used in concert, these tools afford marketers everything they need to reach a clear, actionable understanding of their customers at scale.

Here are a just a few of our favorite tools from each category of scalable customer research.

Social Research
The first step in gathering audience insights is meeting your audience on their home turf. Social networks provide a shared digital environment ideal for connecting with your customers on their terms. Observe network-specific etiquette and you should have no problem tapping into the communities you’re looking to learn more about.

  • Facebook - The tried-and-true social media giant is home to countless self-organized user groups and communities that can streamline your customer research. Pair it with your survey software of choice to collect a wealth of actionable data at close to zero-cost.
  • Reddit - They don’t call it the front page of the internet for nothing. Reddit’s content curation capabilities are second to none. With organic audience communities built up around every conceivable topic, Reddit is a goldmine of customer insight. Be sure to read more about our new Reddit campaign tracking support!
  • Quora - The best Q&A site on the web. Quora connects inquisitive users with subject-matter experts. Handled properly, it can be just as effective for marketers looking to aggregate considered responses to questions about their products.

Social Network Analysis
While direct engagement can be effective, sometimes the best way to learn about your customers is to sit back and watch. Now that social media has matured, a slew of powerful listening and observation platforms have cropped up that allow analysts to take a high-level view of online activity. Each comes with a bit of a learning curve, but if you can master these powerful tools, you’ll be able to gain valuable insights into your customers' behaviors that they might not have been able to provide themselves.

  • Followerwonk - The folks behind the Moz SEO suite have developed this supercharged insights and analytics platform for Twitter. Marketers can use it to analyze their audience for behavioral trends that can inform their efforts down the line.
  • BuzzSumo - Actions speak louder than words, and BuzzSumo lets marketers discover the content that drives audiences to take action. Having this information in hand lets marketers build campaigns that do the same.
  • Netviz - Built and maintained by faculty at the University of Amsterdam, Netviz is a powerful social network analysis tool that allows researchers to extract public behavioral data from Facebook. It requires some knowledge of network theory, but used properly, it can surface powerful information on how your target audience engages with each other and your brand.
  • SocialMention - This powerful social search and analysis tool lets marketers get quick, actionable insights into ongoing conversations across 100+ social touchpoints. It even includes basic sentiment analysis, so you can quickly grasp the state of popular opinion surrounding trending topics.

Customer Surveys
There’s no substitute for the direct approach. Customer surveys are an effective method of gathering valuable data right from the source. If you’re having trouble getting your audience to participate, try offering small incentives. Raffles and giveaways can help boost survey engagement without contaminating your results. Here are a few tools that can streamline customer data collection for your research team.

  • Google Forms - Clean, intuitive, shareable forms by Google. Results sync to Google sheets, making for a turnkey research and reporting combo that’s hard to beat.
  • Typeform - On a mission to “make data collection more human,” Typeform offers a stylish, experiential approach to surveys favoured by tech veterans like Moz.
  • SurveyMonkey - When you’re ready, SurveyMonkey has a wealth of powerful functionality that will help you take your surveys to the next level. Perfect for marketers willing to spend a little extra time gleaning powerful, targeted insights from new and existing customers.

First Party Behavioral Data
In the end, what matters most is a thorough understanding of how your users engage with your product. Measuring first party data also happens to be the most challenging aspect of customer research. It requires an intersectional knowledge of product, marketing, and data science. Don’t be afraid to bring together team members from multiple departments when it comes time to design your measurement structures.

As a marketer, the most valuable contribution you can make is a list of questions you’d like answered. Product managers and engineers can then match those to product specifics using the unique functionality of your team’s analytics solution of choice. Naturally, we recommended using the Tenjin growth data infrastructure. Not only does it allow marketers to measure in-app activity, they can also combine it with acquisition data to produce a comprehensive portrait of every user’s lifetime value.

Customer research isn’t a one-time investment. Market conditions and audience attitudes are constantly shifting in response to new products and cultural developments. Revisit your customer research initiatives at least once a quarter to ensure your marketing operations are working with the most up-to-date information. Doing so will maximize the results derived from all subsequent initiatives.

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