How to gather consumer insights (and use them to improve your business)

What came first, the game-changing idea, or the customer insights that informed it?

In most successful businesses, it isn’t a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma, it’s clear that customer insights are the foundation you need to change the game.

But how do you gather customer insights that really… mean something? And what can you do with that information on their icks and ticks?

When businesses truly grasp their potential customers’ needs, they can stand out in the crowd, by saying the right things—not just by screaming the loudest. They create marketing campaigns that resonate, products that spark joy, and forge connections that go beyond a mere transaction.

But simply collecting this information isn’t the endgame. The next steps involve transforming these insights into actionable steps, painting a vivid picture of your brand’s future.

As we navigate through gathering customer insights, we’ll dive deep into techniques and strategies, from the traditional to the tech-savvy, to make sure you find your perfect fit for creating a customer journey that leads to happy and loyal customers.

How can you gather consumer insights?

Before we discuss how to gather these invaluable nuggets of information, let’s first clarify what customer insights are.

Customer insights are the deep truths about your customers (current or potential customers). They come in all shapes and sizes, just check these consumer insight examples.

They’re not just surface-level observations – these are profound understandings about your customers’ needs, desires, habits, and the reasons behind their buying choices.

When you gather customer insights, you learn what drives their behavior, and thus how you can influence or predict it, or play into it. That reason can be divided up into different reasons why customer insights are so vital:

  • Personalization: Rest assured your customers are flooded with choices, and consumers crave personalized experiences. Customer insights allow you to tailor your products, services, and communication strategies to fit your customers like a glove.
  • Strategic edge: Customer insights give you a competitive advantage, helping you to stay one step ahead by anticipating customer needs and addressing potential pain points before they arise.
  • Risk management: Launching a new product or service? Gather customer insights to reduce guesswork, helping you to predict how new offerings will be received and to tweak them accordingly.
  • Fostering loyalty: When customers feel seen and understood, they’re more likely to stay loyal. Consumer insights facilitate this deeper understanding, allowing you to build meaningful connections that transcend the typical buyer-seller dynamic.

TL;DR – the tools to collect customer insights we’ll cover here:

  1. Consumer research surveys: Online questionnaires for direct feedback.
  2. Customer interviews: Deep dives into individual customer behavior.
  3. Behavioral data analysis: Study online consumer interactions.
  4. Focus groups: Group discussions for rich qualitative data.
  5. Social media monitoring: Capture online sentiments and trends.
  6. Customer feedback forms: Quick, spontaneous feedback mechanisms.
  7. Customer reviews and ratings: Evaluate perceived product/service quality.
  8. Net Promoter Score (NPS): A metric for gauging customer loyalty.
  9. Sales and customer service interactions: Insights from frontline staff.
  10. Heatmaps: Visualize user website behavior.
  11. A/B testing: Compare webpages or ads for performance.
  12. Ethnographic research: Observe consumers in their natural setting.
  13. Sentiment analysis tools: AI-driven sentiment evaluations.
  14. Customer panels: Regular feedback from a select group.
  15. Mystery shopping: Experience your brand from a customer’s perspective.
  16. Predictive analytics: Analyze outcomes using historical data.
  17. Eye-tracking studies: Understand customer visual attention patterns.
  18. Affiliate and partner feedback: Gain insights from collaborators.

Which consumer insights software is right for you?

We’ve put together a list of the consumer insights software that can help brands like yours make better decisions based on reliable intel.

See the list

How to gather consumer insights: 18 methods

There are several ways to discover valuable insights. We’ll look at a mix of methods and tools that cover a range of meaningful insights, from UX-related data to sentiment analysis.

1. Consumer research surveys

Using online surveys remains a tried-and-true method. They allow you to ask specific questions at a large scale, getting to the heart of what your current and potential customers truly feel, and having the data to back it up.

How to use consumer insights from market research surveys:

  • Identify pain points: Identify common themes in customer responses to understand areas where you can improve.
  • Product development: Get feedback on products or services to make enhancements that resonate with your audience.
  • Segmentation: Categorize responses to understand the varying needs and desires of different customer segments.
  • Marketing and campaign strategy refinement: Shape marketing campaigns based on what customers like or dislike about your brand.

2. Customer interviews

One-on-one interactions can unearth deep, qualitative insights and give you quality customer feedback. By having candid conversations, you can delve into the motivations behind customer behavior and preferences.

How to use customer insights from customer interviews:

  • Narrative building: Use direct quotes and stories to build marketing campaigns that resonate. It’s also super useful to use actual quotes to help internal stakeholders truly understand customers.
  • Tailored solutions: Create specific solutions or products based on in-depth feedback.
  • Brand perception: Understand how customers view your brand and work on refining that image.
  • Loyalty programs: Design loyalty programs or incentives based on what truly excites your customers.

3. Behavioral data analysis

By studying how consumers interact with your website, app, or product, you can derive insights about their preferences, habits, and pain points.

How to leverage customer insights from behavioral data analysis:

  • Website optimization: Refine user experience based on most visited pages and bounce rates.
  • Product recommendations: Offer products or services that align with user behavior.
  • Customer journey mapping: Understand the path users take, pinpointing potential drop-off points.
  • Engagement Strategies: Implement techniques to increase user engagement based on their behaviors.

4. Focus groups

A more traditional approach, focus groups involve getting a small group of people together to discuss specific topics, offering rich qualitative data.

How to use insights from focus groups:

  • Product testing: Gauge reactions to new products or services before a full launch.
  • Brand perception: Understand the emotional and rational ties participants have to your brand.
  • Ad campaign feedback: Use real-time, candid reactions to tweak marketing campaigns.
  • Idea Generation: Use the group’s brainstorming power to develop innovative solutions.

5. Social media monitoring

You don’t always have to ask directly. Consumers often voice their opinions, complaints, and praises on social media platforms. Monitoring these can provide a goldmine of insights. And social listening tools ensure you don’t have to have a full-time employee searching the web constantly.

How to use insights from social media monitoring:

  • Reputation management: Address negative feedback quickly and highlight positive reviews.
  • Trending topics: Tap into topics that resonate with your audience for content creation.
  • Competitor analysis: Understand what consumers are saying about competitors.
  • Influencer collaborations: Identify influencers that your audience respects and consider collaborations.

6. Customer feedback forms

Embedding quick and easy feedback forms on your website or after-service interactions can provide spontaneous insights directly from the user. You get to ask one or two questions, while their memory is still fresh and their emotions are still related to the experience they just had.

How to use insights from customer feedback forms:

  • Immediate action: Address issues in real-time, showing customers their feedback is valued.
  • Service enhancement: Refine services based on common feedback patterns.
  • Feature requests: Use feedback to introduce new features or services.
  • Training and development: Identify areas where staff may need additional training or resources.

7. Customer reviews and ratings

Your reviews aren’t just something to show off with, they provide a ton of information on what stands out for customers—the good, the bad and the indifferent.

How to use insights from customer reviews and ratings:

  • Product/service improvements: Identify consistent issues and make necessary changes.
  • Testimonials: Highlight positive reviews in marketing materials.
  • Engage dissatisfied customers: Address negative reviews, showing you’re proactive and value feedback.
  • Understand customer expectations: Keep a finger on the pulse to see if your product or service aligns with what customers expect.

8. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

This simple yet powerful metric helps you determine customer loyalty by asking one simple question: “How likely are you to recommend our product/service to a friend?”

How to use insights from NPS:

  • Customer loyalty analysis: Identify and nurture your most loyal customers.
  • Root cause analysis: Dive deeper into reasons behind low scores.
  • Referral programs: Encourage high NPS scorers to refer friends.
  • Feedback loop: Continually refine offerings based on NPS feedback.

9. Sales and customer service interactions

Your sales and customer service teams interact with customers daily, and their experiences can offer invaluable insights. If you have people who offer technical support or are in any other way customer-facing employees, check in with them too. Even if they only have short interactions, such as delivery drivers have, they might be able to collect customer feedback that could transform the customer experience.

How to use insights from sales and customer service interactions:

  • Training development: Tailor training programs based on recurring customer issues. Also train staff on how to keep their eyes and ears open for unprompted feedback.
  • Product value proposition: Refine based on what convinces customers to purchase or deter them.
  • FAQs: Update this content based on common questions or concerns. It can really save your team and your potential customers so much time.
  • Feedback collection system: Implement systematic ways for teams to share customer insight.

10. Heatmaps

By using tools that show where users click, move, and scroll on your site, you can get a visual representation of their behavior.

How to use insights from heatmaps:

  • Website redesign: Enhance the user experience by making popular areas more accessible.
  • Content strategy: Place key content where users engage the most.
  • CTA placement: Position calls to action effectively based on user behavior.
  • Drop-off analysis: Identify areas where users tend to leave the site.

11. A/B testing

By presenting two versions of a webpage or ad to users, your creative team can determine which one performs better in terms of conversions or other metrics.

How to use insights from A/B testing:

  • Optimized marketing campaigns: Adopt elements from the winning version.
  • Improve briefings and templates: Save time in the future by not starting from scratch, but building on what works.

12. Ethnographic research

This qualitative method involves observing consumers in their natural environment to understand their habits, routines, and real-world challenges in relation to a product or service.

How to use customer insight from ethnographic research:

  • Product development: Tailor products/services to fit seamlessly into the consumer’s daily life.
  • Marketing storytelling: Craft authentic narratives that resonate with real-life consumer experiences.
  • Sales strategies: Pitch products/services in a manner that aligns with observed consumer needs.
  • User experience design: Model digital platforms based on the real-world behaviors and challenges of users.

13. Sentiment analysis tools

Using AI and machine learning, these tools analyze textual content from sources like social media, reviews, and more to determine the sentiment behind them, whether its positive, negative, or neutral. They’re often built into social listening tools, cutting the workload in half.

How to use customer insight from sentiment analysis tools:

  • Brand health monitoring: Keep a pulse on public perception and respond proactively to shifts in sentiment and customer satisfaction.
  • Content refinement: Craft messages that resonate with the prevalent sentiment of the audience.
  • Product feedback: Use sentiment data to prioritize product improvements.
  • Personalized customer relationship management (CRM): Engage customers based on the sentiment of their feedback, ensuring personalized responses.

14. Customer panels

Regularly engage a group of selected customers for feedback. It’s a consistent way to gather insights as you introduce new products, services, or marketing efforts. In some cases it helps to work with the same panel consistently, to track their feedback over time.

How to use consumer insight from customer panels:

  • Product development: Receive ongoing feedback during creation or refinement stages.
  • Marketing strategy: Validate campaigns with a subset of your audience before wider release.
  • Loyalty building: Customers involved often become more loyal, seeing they have a voice.

15. Mystery shopping

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Hire individuals to interact with your brand – in-store, online, or via customer service – and report their experiences. This provides an unbiased view of customer interactions.

How to use consumer insight from mystery shopping:

  • Service quality: Identify gaps in staff training or service delivery.
  • User experience: Understand the purchase journey from a fresh perspective.
  • Operational efficiency: Pinpoint bottlenecks or pain points in the buying process.
  • Competitive analysis: Have shoppers interact with competitors and compare experiences.

16. Predictive analytics

Use statistical algorithms and machine learning techniques to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data. It’s the closest thing to a trustworthy crystal ball.

How to draw insights from predictive analytics:

  • Forecasting: Anticipate sales, demand, or other relevant metrics.
  • Personalized marketing: Tailor marketing strategies based on predicted customer behavior.
  • Risk management: Identify potential risks or issues in advance.
  • Inventory management: Stock products based on predicted demand.

17. Eye-tracking studies

Use technology to monitor where participants look when interacting with a website, ad, or product. This offers a deep understanding of what genuinely captures their attention. This is often combined with heatmaps and other UX research.

How to apply customer insights from eye-tracking studies:

  • Design optimization: Adjust designs based on areas that attract the most attention.
  • Ad efficacy: Understand which elements of an ad are most engaging.
  • Content hierarchy: Organize content based on visual interest.
  • Usability testing: Address design elements that might be confusing or overlooked.

18. Affiliate and partner feedback

Gather insights from partners or affiliates who promote your products. They often have unique insights based on their interactions with mutual customers.

How to use insights from affiliate and partner feedback:

  • Product refinement: Obtain feedback from those selling your product in diverse markets.
  • Expand reach: Discover untapped markets or niches from partners.
  • Collaborative marketing: Develop joint campaigns based on mutual insights.
  • Strategic improvements: Refine partnership strategies based on feedback.

How can customer insights enrich your marketing efforts?

Consumer insights aren’t just numbers or vague trends – they’re the unfiltered voices of your audience. By diving into this feedback, you can align your marketing endeavors more authentically with the people you are trying to serve. Collecting valuable insights is an ongoing conversation, not a one-time thing.

Using consumer insights also means shedding guesswork and increasing confidence across all departments. When your teams know what makes your audience tick, every product feature or brand message becomes more intentional.

For instance, an ad isn’t just visually pleasing but speaks directly to specific customer pain points or desires.

And it’s not just about advertising. When launching a new product, your teams can tap into previously collected insights to gauge whether that sparkly new feature will be a hit or miss. It speeds things up, and increases the chance of success.

Gather reliable customer insights with market research tools

Customer insights and data are everywhere, but how you collect them makes all the difference in quality. Using the right customer insights software will help you sift through the noise and get actionable insights, the kind that goes beyond what looks interesting in a report.

Choose a platform that is easy-to-understand, reliable, and provides expert research advice, like Attest. Our dedicated research experts always make sure all our clients—yes, regardless of the plan you choose—get the most valuable customer insights. If you’re keen to learn more about the tools out there, check out our guide on consumer insights software.

Choose your customer insights platform

Pick a platform that will help you gather reliable insights that’ll help you make smarter and more successful choices for your brand

Gather your insights

Nikos Nikolaidis

Customer Research Manager 

Nikos joined Attest in 2019, with a strong background in psychology and market research. As part of Customer Research Team, Nikos focuses on helping brands uncover insights to achieve their objectives and open new opportunities for growth.

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