18 Creative Surveying Techniques for Consumer Insight

18 Creative Surveying Techniques for Consumer Insight

In search of fresh perspectives on consumer behavior, we turned to the expertise of marketing managers and founders to uncover innovative alternatives to traditional surveys. From experiencing your customer’s world to mapping customer experiences with key accounts, explore the eighteen diverse and cutting-edge strategies these professionals recommend for gathering consumer insights.

  • Experience Your Customer’s World
  • Capture Intent with Exit Surveys
  • Observe Behavior Over Attitudes
  • Analyze Software User Sessions
  • Conduct Focus Groups at Pain Points
  • Gather Nuanced Insights with Interviews
  • Monitor Trends with Social Listening
  • Combine Sales and Contact Center Data
  • Survey Influencers for Fresh Insights
  • Utilize User Reviews on Platforms
  • Research Product Choices Pre-Disasters
  • Directly Ask Your Email List
  • Analyze Queries with Google Search Console
  • Create Interactive Consumer Experiences
  • Gain Insights from Trade Channels
  • Explore Seven Innovative Insight Methods
  • Leverage AI for Qualitative Analysis
  • Map Customer Experience with Key Accounts

Experience Your Customer’s World

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer by shopping where they shop, eating where they eat, and simply experiencing what they do. When in these situations, ask people questions to understand their habits and preferences.

Beyond that, ask the staff or people who sell your product or similar ones what their thoughts are without revealing your work for said product. You will quickly understand more about your product category than any survey will. A consumer will tell you they love something, but people who sell it or work with it will tell you the truth.

Brock ThatcherBrock Thatcher
Channel Marketing Manager, AprilAire

Capture Intent with Exit Surveys

When we mindfully construct the customer journey we want our ideal prospects to take, we often start by guessing what path could be best for them. Should we go straight to a big call-to-action like “book a call,” or should we provide more top-of-funnel information first?

Aside from reviewing bounces on these key offers, we can set a pop-up that asks on exit what the visitor was wanting to see on the website. “Can you share what you were looking for, and if this page was helpful?”

A simple paragraph field will allow the visitors to share their intent, voice their frustration, or confirm their satisfaction. It’s laborious to review these surveys, but it’s worthwhile as we are asking folks in the middle of their journey, instead of via email or phone call as a follow-up.

Casey Slaughter StantonCasey Slaughter Stanton
Founder, CMOx

Observe Behavior Over Attitudes

I believe that behaviors are more powerful than attitudes. Case in point: the yellow Walkman test. A group of individuals in the 1980s were asked what they thought about a yellow Walkman, and the response was generally positive. Upon completion of the survey, the individuals were allowed to select either a black or yellow Walkman upon leaving the room.

The black Walkmans were, by far, the more popular choice. Identify ways to capture behavioral data in combination with attitudinal (survey) data to validate your hypotheses when possible.

Joel PolancoJoel Polanco
Senior Product Manager, Intel

Analyze Software User Sessions

I worked at Amazon for four years as a software engineer on the Amazon Fulfillment Technology team (software that powered all the fulfillment centers in the world).

What we would do is record all sessions of how our customers used our tools, then we would improve the product based on where they got stuck.

Sometimes, they would get stuck, and the errors wouldn’t show up on the server logs, so having the records helped drive at least 60% of our new features.

Peter WangPeter Wang
Founder, Exploding Insights

Conduct Focus Groups at Pain Points

Insights can serve as a driver for big ideas! Though uncovering them can be challenging, costly, and time-consuming. Before exploring innovative ways to capture these insights, it’s critical to understand what an insight actually is—it’s not a simple data point, but rather a consumer truth, coupled with a deeper meaning that serves as an underlying motivation for the consumer’s desire or need. And the most compelling insights capture a tension or pain point that is inhibiting the desired consumer need or desire from being met.

One innovative way to gather the most compelling insights is to hold focus groups where and when your target consumer is experiencing their biggest tension or pain point, for example, while they are shopping.

Conducting focus groups while your target consumer is experiencing their tension or pain point will serve as a goldmine for uncovering the most compelling insights that will lead to an untapped need or whitespace opportunity for your brand or business!

Loren McCrayLoren McCray
Chief Brand Marketing Officer, Mc2

Gather Nuanced Insights with Interviews

Qualitative research will give you nuances and emotions that surveys can never fully capture. Talk directly to people within your market, and directly ask them questions about your topic. Dig deep into their emotions and ask them to share anecdotes as data.

Bonus: You don’t need to collect as many responses to find key insights and trends that extend to your broader market. Get started by setting up six to ten one-on-one interviews, evaluate the responses, then decide if you need more interviews to make a valid conclusion. Focus groups are a great alternative for assumption checking.

Cari MurrayCari Murray
Director of Marketing, Marvin

Monitor Trends with Social Listening

I would love to offer some insights on innovative ways to gather consumer insights beyond traditional market research surveys.

One innovative method we’ve embraced at Custom Neon to gather consumer insights is through social listening. Rather than using traditional surveys, we use social media channels to monitor conversations and trends around our sector and brand. With this method, we are able to record the real voice of the customer—their wants, preferences, and pain points as they organically come up for discussion online.

We use advanced social listening techniques to analyze these conversations and monitor sentiment, allowing us to promptly modify our product offerings and marketing strategies. For example, we once saw a pattern in the conversations within our sector on sustainability.

By employing this approach, we can enhance our understanding of consumer behavior and make our market strategy more proactive and responsive.

Kate GeldartKate Geldart
Online Marketing Specialist, Custom Neon

Combine Sales and Contact Center Data

One innovative way to gather consumer insights beyond traditional market-research surveys is by analyzing data from sales and contact centers. Sales data provides valuable information about purchasing patterns, product preferences, and customer demographics.

Meanwhile, contact centers capture real-time feedback, common complaints, and frequently asked questions. By combining these data sources, businesses can comprehensively view user needs, pain points, and preferences.

This method allows for more actionable insights, enabling companies to improve products, enhance customer service, and better tailor marketing strategies to meet consumer demands.

Veruska AnconitanoVeruska Anconitano
Multilingual SEO and Globalization Consultant, I Am Veru

Survey Influencers for Fresh Insights

Leverage your Creator and Influencer partners! Influencers and content creators have a front-row seat to quick-moving cultural trends and real-time views of consumers.

Surveying influencers on trends, or hosting them in digital focus groups, can happen quickly, be cost-effective, and bubble up the freshest of insights.

Christy ColeChristy Cole
Chief Operating Officer, August United

Utilize User Reviews on Platforms

For B2B brands, especially software companies, review sites like G2 and Capterra are invaluable. Users leave their honest opinions and tell you exactly what problems the product helped them solve, what they liked, and what they didn’t like.

For B2C brands, Instagram and TikTok can provide a wealth of data. People review purchased products all the time and share their opinions.

And, of course, there’s always the option to survey your email subscribers and ask directly.

Davor BomeštarDavor Bomeštar
CEO, Fortis Agency

Research Product Choices Pre-Disasters

Strategic photography: Research photographs of grocery store shelves prior to a hurricane or other major disaster. Take note of which products were taken en masse and which were left behind.

Learn the trucking delivery dates of stores and take before-and-after photos of the shelves. Search for photos of your products on social media and take note of where they are taken, which photos are liked the most, and which photos receive the most comments.

Jim StroudJim Stroud
Editor, SourceCon

Directly Ask Your Email List

Just ask! Most people don’t think it’s that simple, but it really can be.

This works best when you ask your email list a question directly within a short email. It’s best to limit this to one important qualitative question that you want to ask per email.

Here are a few simple questions you can ask this way:

– Would you reply to this email and let me know why you chose not to buy [your product name]?

– How would you rate your overall satisfaction with [your product name]? *Include link answers for them to click in the email to submit their answer.

– Any important qualitative question you want answered can be asked.

If you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of email replies, using a tool like Zapier, you can automatically have all these email replies (with their answers) be fed into a spreadsheet.

If you want to take things a step further, you can feed this spreadsheet into ChatGPT to get a summary and breakdown of all the answers you received. This makes it easy to understand feedback from thousands of people.

Andrew PfundAndrew Pfund
Growth Marketer, Scale and Prosper

Analyze Queries with Google Search Console

Use Google Search Console! Search behavior tells you a lot about your audience without asking them directly. Under the Performance tab, you can view all of the queries that searchers use to get to your website. This helps you get a better understanding of what people are searching for to land on your site.

You can also see the trends of the clicks and impressions these terms receive over time, which can help you gauge the seasonality of terms and identify trends. We keep track of all the keywords we use on our website using SE Ranking, so if we find a query that is popular or long-tail and is not yet being used on our website, we try to create a new landing page around it to capture those customers.

Cristina Esguerra-LoayzaCristina Esguerra-Loayza
Experienced Product Strategy Manager, Paint N Ship

Create Interactive Consumer Experiences

An innovative way to gather consumer insights beyond traditional market research surveys is through interactive experiences.

Turning the traditional market survey into a fun, interactive quiz or game creates a better and more memorable experience for the consumer. Techniques like this can easily be integrated into your website and social media platforms.

Additionally, remember to include something for the consumer, too. Giving something like a discount to your site/product, or an entry in a raffle to win a prize, is a great way to give back to your audience while gaining valuable information.

Jasmin DiazJasmin Diaz
Content Specialist, Comparent

Gain Insights from Trade Channels

The trade channel, getting feedback from the stores, is a great way to gather consumer insights. They interact with customers every day and firsthand get to hear what consumers say about your and your competitors’ products.

This is especially valuable because consumers ask them questions about your product, so they can tell you exactly what the consumers’ concerns and doubts are.

Aditi GargAditi Garg
Founder, Out of Syllabus

Explore Seven Innovative Insight Methods

Consumer insights are deep understandings of customer behavior from data analysis. They help businesses tailor marketing, improve products, and enhance experiences, driving better engagement, loyalty, and informed decisions.

Here are not one but seven innovations in consumer insights:

Gaining consumer insights includes leveraging,

1. Social media analytics to track consumer sentiment and behaviors in real-time.

2. Utilizing AI and machine learning to analyze large datasets for patterns and trends.

3. Implementing interactive surveys and quizzes on websites to engage users while gathering valuable data.

4. Eye-tracking technology in advertisements and websites reveals what captures consumer attention.

5. Virtual reality (VR) experiences can simulate product interactions, providing detailed feedback.

6. Gamification to encourage participation in market research.

7. Sentiment analysis of online reviews and feedback offers insights into consumer opinions and preferences.

These methods provide deeper, more accurate consumer insights to inform business strategies.

Shankar SrinivasanShankar Srinivasan
Co-Founder & CMO, BiCXO

Leverage AI for Qualitative Analysis

Traditional market research surveys continue to be an extremely valuable tool for gathering consumer insights, but with so many sources of data available these days, you may be missing important areas of consideration if it’s the only method you’re using.

Qualitative methods are becoming increasingly useful with the rise of AI tools because it means we no longer need to go through the painstaking (and expensive!) process of hand-coding all the open-ended responses.

On a recent project I conducted with a healthcare and sustainability focus, I was able to tell my client what the trending topics were on relevant forums and subreddits, because I could pull keywords directly from the actual conversations people were having about the field online.

I would expect to see the continued rise of AI tools integrated into research platforms, allowing us to parse more data and more types of inputs than what had ever been possible before.

Shannon ListopadShannon Listopad
Owner and Founder, November Consulting

Map Customer Experience with Key Accounts

At PatentRenewal.com, we go beyond traditional surveys by integrating personalized customer experience mapping into our consumer insight strategies. We base our consumer insights on the pains and gains of our existing customers and focus on gathering valuable, in-depth information, since quantitative data is often not complex enough for companies in the B2B space.

With our key customers, we have regular online meetings to discuss their satisfaction and address any of their specific needs. These proactive steps are critical to increasing customer loyalty. Additionally, these online meetings involve key account customers directly in the innovation process, allowing them to help brainstorm new features and services.

This not only provides actionable insights but also deepens customer relationships, making them integral to our development process. These methods have proven essential in refining our offerings and enhancing customer satisfaction in the SaaS field.

Kinga FodorKinga Fodor
Marketing Manager, PatentRenewal.com

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