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To serve your clients and customers better, you need to know their behaviors and understand their expectations. Operating in a world of disruption and uncertainty (let’s face it, there is always a new normal), your clients may have different needs and pain points than they did a year ago. Therefore, it is crucial to know how their lives and businesses have changed. This allows you to meet them where they are, not where you think they are or where you want them to be.

 

Utilize data mining tools and analytics. Be sure to use platforms that allow you to understand how potential clients and customers interact with your website, emails, and social media. You need to know which websites they visit most often. What emails will they open? You may want to look for key information such as internet sources, time spent on your site, and how clients or customers visit and convert from your site. 

 

Employ polls and questionnaires. It is now easier than ever to ask questions about the products and services you offer. It is simpler to learn the pain points that potential clients and customers may be feeling. Despite this, many of us feel inundated to share our opinions. Incentivizing current and potential customers with a small discount makes them more likely to respond to the survey and use your products and services. Additionally, this will be sure to let your clients know how much you appreciate their input. 

 

Create virtual focus groups and panels. Gathering online opinions and research providers can help you put together sample audiences to source feedback. Doing this will help you reach your niche audience. Getting to know this target customer audience will help guide your marketing strategies.

 

Provide early access to new products and services. If you are unveiling new products or programs, allow your current clients first access. Get their opinions on how you can improve these new offerings. This is an effective way to build goodwill and reinforce that their opinion matters.  

 

Use targeted online surveys and quizzes.  Rather than sending out a blanket questionnaire to all your customers and clients, narrow down to aim for a specific audience. This will allow you to get a feel for particular needs and requirements for various stakeholders, whether you are polling restaurant owners or medical professionals. 

 

Include customer recognition. A way to get to know your customers better is to feature them in your promotional campaigns, social media, and newsletters. Invite them to provide feedback on industry trends, prototypes, and new concepts. Give them a shout-out on your website or social media channels. Small businesses are especially interested in building online forums and communities around their brand, specifically for the sounding board aspect. 

 

Connect with industry thought leaders and your local chamber of commerce.  Want to know what leaders in a specific field are thinking? Do you know what other small business owners in your community are doing? Ask to interview them for your company blog or video series. Many experts are willing to share their thoughts and opinions in exchange for publicity, says Steinberg. 

 

Ultimately, the better you know your customers, the more you can anticipate their needs and the more value you can provide. Fortunately, you do not need a suite of expensive tools to conduct market research. Often, all you need to do is look for ways to communicate with your clients. Whether you send them a quick poll or invite them to weigh in as part of a client panel, by taking time to build personal relationships, you will ultimately see better outcomes. Get to know your customers–and thrive.

 

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