7 Steps to create a data-driven customer insights strategy

A customer insights strategy is your plan for how you will gather and analyze data about your customers, specifically about their needs, preferences, and behaviors. A data-driven strategy allows you to make informed decisions about your products, services and overall customer experience with speed and confidence.

It’s important to emphasize that your customer insight strategy should be driven by data, which will help you lift your decision-making game to the next level. Focusing on real data helps you spot trends, patterns and opportunities that may have been overlooked if were to go ahead based on assumptions or unstructured information.

If you want to sharpen your competitive edge, here’s how you can create your very own data-driven customer insights strategy in 7 simple steps.

What is a customer insight strategy?

Let’s first clarify what we mean by a customer insight strategy.

Businesses collect all kinds of data from their customers all the time. Some do it without clear intention—they just gather and store a bunch of data and hope that when they need some customer insight, they have the data they need. However, some businesses gather and use customer insight proactively. That’s what we like to see!

Having a plan in place for how you will collect customer insights and what you will be using them for, is called having a customer insight strategy—and we highly recommend it.

Your customer insight strategy might involve conducting surveys, analyzing customer reviews, tracking customer behavior on your website and monitoring other data points. You decide at what moments you gather specific data, instead of waiting for data to organically build up.

You could send out surveys to customers who ordered your product 4 weeks ago, or try to fetch NPS scores from users who just signed up for your product.

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Choose your customer insight tool

What you’ll ask and when you’ll ask it, is determined by your commercial goals and the specific customer journey that your customers experience.

You might wonder: what makes customer insights different from market research? They are related, but not the same thing. Market research is a much broader term that includes a wide range of research activities. Customer insight strategies narrow it down to gathering data on the needs, behaviors, and preferences of your customers.

Take a lesson from D2C flowers brand Bloom & Wild: they used consumer research to find out what people really thought about red roses on Valentine’s Day.

By carrying out research among their target audience, Bloom & Wild found the results backed up the doubts they’d had internally, which revealed an opportunity to not only to improve the product offering and experience for customers, but also to generate press coverage for Bloom & Wild all under the No Red Roses campaign. This resulted in record sales growth.

We found that 79% of people would prefer to receive a thoughtful gift rather than something traditional, like red roses. 58% of people thought red roses were a cliché. And they actually came bottom as the least favorite gift that people had received for Valentine’s Day. So that gave us confidence that we had correctly sensed growing reluctance towards those sort of Valentine’s Day clichés.

The survey that we ran on Attest really helped give us confidence in the decision to stop selling red roses. But also, with strong stats like that, we were confident that we’d have a compelling story to take to the press that would help us on that goal of being the most talked about brand.

Charlotte Langley, Brand & Communications Director at Bloom & Wild

What should you include in your consumer insight strategy?

Every customer insight strategy will look a little different, but the best ones all have these elements in common.

Clearly defined objectives

Don’t start asking your customers all kinds of questions if you don’t know what you’ll be doing with the data.

Have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. This could be anything from increasing sales to improving customer satisfaction.

A broad range of research methods and tools

A robust customer insights strategy involves a complete approach to data collection—just numbers or only written feedback can lead to false assumptions and wrong decisions.

Combine quantitative research methods (such as standard surveys) and qualitative research methods (such as focus groups, in-depth interviews or surveys with open-ended questions) to gain a more holistic understanding of your customers. Like little Moons did, with success.

Our social media following would suggest our audience were late teens/early 20s women. But Attest consumer profiling identified that the people driving most of the volume in premium ice cream are actually affluent 30+ year olds with the disposable income to habitually purchase a premium product like Little Moons.

Ross Farquhar, Marketing Director at Little Moons

A strong focus on customer behavior

A winning consumer insight strategy is centered around understanding customer behavior. Don’t get sidetracked by gathering too much information about your product or messaging (there are other surveys and projects where you should totally focus on these areas).

The customer insights will inform that eventually, but you should keep the focus on the consumer! This means identifying customer pain points, motivations and preferences.

Make the most of your data by using our consumer profiling template—our in-house research experts have created this template to give you the perfect starting point for your customer insight project.

Smart use of available technologies and automation

Make the most of the modern times we live in. There’s no shortage of tools out there for data analytics, social media listening, and artificial intelligence to gather and analyze large amounts of customer data.

They can help you identify patterns and trends that would be difficult to detect through manual analysis. Save time, energy and cash by using a tool that means you can use customer insights effectively!

Follow-up roadmaps and action plans

A great customer insight strategy will give you actionable insights. Have a plan of action in place to act on them. That means willingness to change, budget, time and resources: don’t let that data go stale.

Colleagues discussing customer insights

Plans for ongoing research

Gathering customer insights should not be a one-time event, but an ongoing process. It’s important to continually gather customer feedback and monitor customer behavior to identify new trends and opportunities.

The right timing

There are several moments to consider for gathering customer insights. Here are a few moments in the customer journey you could jump on:

  • Pre-purchase: At this time, customers are still researching products or services, comparing prices and evaluating options. You can gather customer insights by sending surveys, analyzing their search queries, online reviews, social media comments, and customer surveys. For example, you can use Google Analytics to see which pages on your website are getting the most traffic.
  • Purchase: At this stage, customers are making a purchase decision. You can gather customer insights by analyzing their purchase history, purchase frequency and purchase behavior. For example, you can use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to track customer purchases and segment customers by buying behavior.
  • Post-purchase: At this spot on the customer journey map, customers have already made a purchase and are using your product or service. You can gather customer insights by analyzing customer feedback, reviews and ratings. For example, you can use social listening tools to monitor mentions of your brand on social media and respond to customer complaints or feedback. This is also a great moment for surveys.
  • Loyalty: At this stage of the customer journey, customers have become loyal to your brand and are repeat customers. You can gather customer insights by analyzing their engagement with your brand, their loyalty program participation, and their advocacy.

The advantages of consumer insights

Why go through the process of setting up a customer insight strategy? Because customer data is gold if you use it right.

From improving customer satisfaction for current customers to getting more customers on board: if you get an in-depth understanding of your customer experience, both real and ideal, you will never have to make another decision based on guesswork.

Here are some benefits of a customer-centric data-driven approach for your business.

Your marketing will be a lot more effective

A lot of companies get a creative block when dreaming up new campaigns. But they completely overlook the value of using customer insights in their marketing strategy. Your customers point you towards what they want to see from you, all you have to do is ask.

Next time you’re searching for ideas for your marketing communications, turn to information from customer interviews and other consumer research. Data can spark creativity, too.

Customer insights software

Improved product development

Customer insights can help you identify gaps in the market and develop products that better meet customer needs.

Note that using customer surveys for this is different from simply launching concept tests. With this customer-centric approach, you let go of the limitations of your product as it is and just let customers dream out loud.

You’ll find incredibly valuable data and ideas to use customer insights that could elevate your products or services to the next level.

Enhanced customer experience

Understanding customer behavior and preferences allows you to deliver a better customer experience from start to finish.

Your business objective should not only be to get more new customers or sell more products, but to create better experiences for your buyers. This will increase customer loyalty and ultimately lower acquisition costs.

Customer insights can help you predict future customer behavior based on past behavior and preferences. This information can be used to make customer focused decisions in the moments that matter most, whether it’s about product development, marketing or even hiring. You’ll always be one step ahead.

Quicker decision-making

Data doesn’t make your organization sluggish if you use it right. If you gather insights in an efficient way and have a smooth way to analyze all the data, you can actually make decisions with more confidence, faster, and with more benefit to your bottom line.

This will give you a competitive advantage compared to competitors who are still guessing what customers are thinking and feeling.

How to create a customer insights framework and strategy: 7 steps

If you want to collect customer insights regularly, it helps to have a strategy in place.

With the steps below you make sure that you continuously feed your sales team and marketers with valuable customer insights.

Step 1: Define your objectives. Realistic, but ambitious ones.

Before embarking on any customer insights project, it’s essential to define your objectives with specificity and granularity. Ensure that your goals are SMART, and actionable.

The goal should never just be to know something you didn’t before. Establish clear objectives that are aligned with your other business objectives, goals and KPIs to make your customer insight strategy worth your while

Step 2: Identify personas and segments.

You don’t want to send the wrong questions to the wrong people at the wrong time. Make every survey and interaction count. That’s why your customer insights strategy should be tailored to the specific personas you want to understand better. It’s time for some customer profiling.

Begin by identifying the primary and secondary personas that are most important to your business, taking into account their demographics, psychographics, purchasing patterns, and behaviors. Here are four types of consumer profiling to give you a headstart.

This will enable you to use targeted and relevant data collection methods that resonate with them and drive meaningful insights.

Step 3: Choose your data collection methods.

Once you’ve identified your target customers and personas, you can begin selecting the data collection methods that are most appropriate for your goals and audience. We’d recommend using tools that allow you to collect both quantitative data and qualitative data, such as surveys.

You can create a better picture using interviews, focus groups, social media listening tools and website analytics. Choosing the right mix of data collection methods will allow you to capture a broad range of insights and ensure that your analysis is comprehensive and, most importantly, actionable.

Person carrying out online market research

Step 4: Create laser-focused customer insight surveys.

To collect accurate and meaningful data for your customer insight project, it’s essential to develop well-crafted and optimized surveys. You want to gather specific insights, and get high response rates, so put a lot of thought into what questions you should be asking, and how to ask them.

Pro tip: if you can get some designated research advice to help you create genuinely useful surveys, your customer insights will be even more effective!

Step 5: Conduct customer insights surveys

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, and chose your consumer insights software you can begin gathering customer insights data. Whether that is by analyzing website visitors or social media analytics, conducting surveys or interviews, analyzing customer data or running focus groups.

If you’ve chosen the right tools, you can basically sit back and relax at this point while the data starts coming in.

Step 6: Create an action plan.

Based on your customer insights analysis, create an action plan that outlines specific tactics and strategies for improving your business performance. It’s critical to involve key stakeholders from across your organization in this process to ensure that your action plan is aligned with your business goals and KPIs.

In other words: make sure things will get done. Make sure customer-facing teams can also access the data you’ve gathered about your target market: they are, after all, the ones directly interacting with your customer base.

Step 7: Monitor and refine your strategy.

To maximize the impact of your customer insights strategy, it’s essential to continually monitor and refine your approach. Regularly analyze data to see key metrics to track your (expected!) progress towards your goals. Adjust your data collection methods to ensure ongoing engagement. Fine-tune your action plan to reflect changes in your customer segments, their needs or customer expectations.

Stay agile and responsive, to keep your customer insights strategy relevant and effective over time.

In startups, you have a hypothesis around your audience but it’s fluctuating and changing and evolving. And Attest makes it super easy just to drill into those certain demographics and certain behaviors that you want to really focus on.

Georgie Burks, Head of Brand Marketing, Penfold

Get ahead of the competition with a great customer insights strategy

Understanding your customers’ behaviors and attitudes is the key to keep them coming back for more. There are different moments throughout the customer journey map that are packed with data, and with Attest you can make sure you send focused surveys to the right people, at the right time.

Along with our fast, easy-to-use platform, you’ll get a designated research expert who will guide you through the process to make the most of your data. They can’t wait to meet you! Get started today. 

Choose the right customer insights software for your business

You can make smarter decisions for your business with customer insights from Attest. You get reliable data fast, and your research will be tailored to you with your designated research expert on hand!

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Elliot Barnard

Customer Research Lead 

Elliot joined Attest in 2019 and has dedicated his career to working with brands carrying out market research. At Attest Elliot takes a leading role in the Customer Research Team, to support customers as they uncover insights and new areas for growth.

See all articles by Elliot