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Hate market research? Simply watching how your customers interact with your product or service is extremely valuable market research and will provide you with all kinds of great insights that will help you get more ideal customers.
Recently, Google observed how children used Google to answer questions such as “What do dolphins eat?” Most children between the ages of 5-8 typed in “wat do dolfin eat” but here’s where it gets interesting. Younger kids defaulted to the “images” searches and simply found dolphins with fish in their mouth and said “fish”, while older kids primarily read the bold words.
In this video by Will Critchlow over at Moz, you’ll get the detailed story of Google’s research as well as his own personal experiment.
6 Lessons You Can Learn from Google’s Market Research Project With Kids
- Watching your customers gives you surprising information. This is called observational research and it’s a surprisingly simple and cost-effective way to get insights into how your customers actually use your product. This is one powerful market research method that can trigger innovative ideas that will make your product or service one that your customers will choose above others.
- Market research doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. When you say “market research“, most people default to online surveys or polls. While these are certainly popular, they aren’t the only ways to gather information from customers. Not only that, but people have a tendency to answer questions based on what they think they would do, rather than their actual behavior in a specific circumstance. These days, very few types of research are cost prohibitive. While it’s certainly preferable to have an expert observe your customers, it’s not necessary and it’s certainly something you can do yourself.
- Choose and label your online images wisely. While most adults may not default to using images searches to answer questions or find products, it’s definitely more common than you might imagine. Recently, I was searching for a replacement kitchen table and I searched on “60” round wooden kitchen table” — in the images section. If you are selling a product with specific features, make sure that you fill out all of the image fields and mention those features so that your products will be easily found on an image search.
Here is the image description I used after uploading the table above.
- The featured snippet box and featured question elements are prime search real estate. The searches that appear in the featured boxes when you search on Google are chosen by Google based on highly sophisticated algorithms that include; how well the content answers the question asked, how many people click on and confirm that the content answers the question and how long people spend consuming the content.
- Complicated questions with lots of words or steps don’t work in a single search. Voice search is growing in popularity but neither voice nor desktop search has evolved enough to deal with complex, multi-step, contextual questions such as “Can you find what day of the week the vice president’s birthday will fall on next year?” Google doesn’t do so well. In this example, you would have to specify who the vice president is, you’d have to find when his birthday is and then you’d have to see what day that will fall on next year. So, if you have a product or service that requires that type of thinking, it’s a good idea to create content that breaks that information up into smaller questions as I did in this example.
- Kids find something that works and repeat it — do you do the same? Finally, Google discovered that once kids hit upon a search process or formula that worked for them, they consistently used that process. This is an interesting observation because there’s a good chance that adults do the same thing. So, when you’re creating product descriptions or content that describes products, it’s important to keep in mind that there are a variety of ways to search for answers where your product might come up.
Don’t Ignore Market Research
I get it. Market research isn’t usually at the top of your list of things to do. Some of the reasons I’ve heard include statements like:
I interact with my customers every day, why do I need to collect customer feedback?
Market research is expensive and I don’t see exactly how it makes me any money.
It’s just too complicated, I need a consultant, I need to spend money on platforms, I know everything I need to know.
I’m not going to dispute these reasons — every small business owner is entitled to his or her opinion.
Small businesses fail because they aren’t making enough money. They aren’t making enough money because they aren’t selling the right thing to the right audience.Click to tweet
What if I told you that market research could be fun — entertaining, even? Would you be interested?
How to Collect Market Research by Simply Watching Your Customers
It’s called “Observational Research” and it’s a simple market research method that doesn’t have to cost a ton of money and, while it helps to use a professional, it’s certainly something you can do yourself.
What is Observational Research?
As you’ve probably guessed, it’s a research method where you simply watch your customer do what they do in their natural environment. Big brands do it all the time. They will spend millions on sending research teams to their customers to do nothing more than observe them use their product or service. Computer and software companies have put market researchers on planes to observe how their customers use computers and software. Consumer brands will send market research professionals to homes to talk to and watch their customers use their products. This is serious market research and all it takes is being there with your customers and watching.