You can’t create effective marketing without understanding your audience.
I bet you already know this.
The trouble is that really understanding what your audience wants requires a ton of research.
There are personas to build and customer journey maps to create. All time-consuming stuff.
But you can make the process a whole lot easier (and faster) by using the right customer research tools.
(Although you should never underestimate the power of interviewing your customers).
So here are 51 customer research tools for collecting the insight needed to get a killer ROI on marketing campaigns. Give the list a scan to find one that’ll be a great fit for you.
The benefit of long-form surveys is the sheer amount of information they enable you to uncover. The detailed nature of questions can really let you get inside the head of your customer. Although, getting the best quality data requires asking open-ended questions.
While there are A LOT of long-term survey solutions out there, here are a few we like.
Billing itself as “survey software that will make you smile”, SurveyGizmo wins brownie points for its fun and funky designs. The software is incredibly easy to use and you can also get an automated analysis of your survey to help spot trends and create personalized data reports. A generous free version includes unlimited surveys, questions and responses along with over 25 question types.
SurveyMonkey is incredibly easy to setup and customize. Create anything from a straightforward poll to an in-depth survey to get detailed insights into your marketplace. Struggling for inspiration? You can take your pick from hundreds of pre-written questions. SurveyMonkey also has a free package that includes 10 questions, 100 responses and basic email support.
If you want to design an oh-so beautiful looking survey, Typeform is your go-to option. The elegant designs not only look great, they’re easy to create thanks to a simple format that lets you fill in one form field at a time. Couldn’t be easier. The free version comes with a stack of features including unlimited questions and answers.
FluidSurveys puts a vast array of features at your fingertips. As well as 40 question types, it has an intuitive drag and drop editor to make the design process simple. You can even create your survey offline then upload the results when you’re back on the grid. Opt for the free version and you get 10 questions and 100 responses.
QuestionPro gives you over 30 question types to pick from and the ability to capture results from a range of sources. Send surveys out via email, embed them in your site, or post them on social network sites. The free version comes with unlimited surveys and 100 responses. But if you’re happy to part with $12/month, you get a host of extras including the option of exporting survey data into Excel to help with offline analysis.
Need some answers but have no one to reach out to? Take your burning questions to the masses. Putting together focus groups used to be arduous labor. Now you have access to target audience through the press of a button!
Let’s talk a look at your best options for conducting consumer surveys.
AYTM allows you to build a survey and send it out to an audience of your choosing targeted by demographic. This is a great way to validate a product idea or market before putting work into gathering leads. The results you get can inform important strategic marketing decisions as you move forward. Pricing starts at just under a dollar per response with a recommended sample size of 400.
Similar to AYTM, Google Consumer Surveys enables you to bring your burning questions to the masses – or rather a demographically targeted group of respondents. Google touts the fact that Consumer Surveys accurately predicted the outcome of the 2012 presidential election and was amongst the second most accurate poll considered by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight predictions. As their website copy states, imagine having a tool this powerful in your hands to inform your strategic marketing decisions.
GutCheck offers a more hands-on approach to consumer surveying than both AYTM and Google Consumer Surveys. You work with a full-service team where they will take you through development and execution of a survey. This option is less self-serve than others and seems best suited for working out more developed ideas.
One of the great things about short, pop-up style surveys is simplicity.
By posing fewer questions, people are more inclined to respond. Plus, pop-up surveys are perfect for narrowing in on how prospects feel about individual pages. And sure, while many long-form survey providers also offer pop-ups, the following companies excel at them.
The big player in its field, Qualaroo lets you add simple surveys anywhere on your site. You can also create multiple surveys that are triggered based on visitor interaction — a fantastic tool for helping you ask relevant questions as and when they come up. Qualaroo also provides exit surveys to help reveal why visitors don’t convert.
Webengage effectively gives you 3 products in one. It allows you to produce detailed surveys and gather feedback from customers while they’re browsing your site. But it also offers the ability to push deals to users in real-time via “popup” style notifications. A very handy feature to promote spontaneous purchases.
Survicate lets you tailor and target surveys at specific audiences on your site, so you get the most detailed analysis possible. It comes with a vast range of survey tools and themed templates, and the installation process is super-fast at a mere two minutes. Sign up for the free version and get 50 responses a month.
Temper is the ultimate fuss-free survey tool. You ask simple questions that customers respond to by clicking one of 3 different mood faces. Couldn’t be easier. Surveys can be featured on your website or at the end of emails by simply dropping in a bit of code. With minimum effort required from customers, Temper is awesome for gaining instant feedback.
ClickInsights is all about making life easy for consumers. You send them a one-question survey, they respond by clicking or tapping their answer within your email. ClickInsights provides up to 10 different responses and also provides the option of asking open-ended questions after the initial answer has been sent.
With all the searches people do, Google has a lot of data on consumer trends. They’ve put together a number of resources that capitalize on all this data and put it in your hands. These tools can be great for drawing broad conclusions about online consumer behavior.
Google puts together a seasonal guide of trending topics. This can give you a broad ideas about consumer trends that may inform your customer research. It also highlights an easily forgotten fact that digital trends aren’t in a vacuum – they are shaped by the events and seasons of the real world.
Consumer Barometer allows you to query Google’s Consumer Survey database to extract broad information about online consumer purchasing behavior. Great if you are considering how to best distribute your product and which channels would be most effective in reaching your target customers.
16) Google Trends
Google Trends allows you to query specific keywords and see their usage over time. You can also compare multiple keywords against each other. An effective tool for seeing how topical keywords trend over time. Uncovering rising trends can help you discover unique opportunities for your business.
These tools show you what Google Analytics can’t by generating a map that details exactly where customers have clicked, moved and scrolled through your site. The visual data heat maps offer a fantastic way of seeing the areas on your site getting the most attention and the areas being ignored, helping you to adjust design elements and copy accordingly.
The best-known heat map tool in the industry, CrazyEgg is widely used for a reason. It’s quick to setup and you get a lot of bang for your buck. The basic package is $9 / month, which lets you track 10,000 monthly visitors across 10 active pages.
18) Lucky Orange
One of the major benefits of Lucky Orange is it lets you monitor customer interactions in real-time. You can observe mouse and scrolling activity as it happens and even setup a live chat to answer questions and resolve potential issues on the spot. Plus, it boasts a stack of tools to get deep insights into customer behavior. Pricing starts at just $10 a month which includes 50,000 monthly page views
A true heavyweight in the heat map marketplace, Clicktale serves up a range of powerful features that let you get seriously in-depth with analytics. They even have dedicated specialists to help you decipher the vast amounts of data available. With so much information to make sense of, things can get complicated – so you’ll probably be mighty glad of the help!
If you have traffic, analyzing it can result in profound insights about your target market. There are a wide range of tools at a variety of price points that can give you access to an enormous trove of data. Mix and match these tools for best results!
20) Google Analytics
The classic analytics suite. Google Analytics gives you insights like average duration of each visit, top viewed content, and pretty much anything else you might want to know. Google Analytics is a completely free service and requires very little technical knowledge to install on your website. If you aren’t already using it, you are seriously missing out!
Clicky is a no-nonsense Google Analytics alternative. It offers a lot of the same insights and information as Google Analytics. It isn’t uncommon for people to use a combination of both tools. You can reconcile variances in reporting between the two tools to get a more accurate sense of traffic numbers. Like Google Analytics, Clicky is completely free.
SumAll gives you beautiful reports and insight into your social profiles. You can develop a better understanding of your followers and engagement data. SumAll’s reports help you show that your social channels are resulting in engagement and providing value. You can also get a better sense of what your audience is responding to.
This analytics tool sets itself apart from Google Analytics by focusing on the individual behind each page view. KISSmetrics enables you to create visual funnels and see each user’s behavior. This can lead to a better understanding of your audience and their actions. KISSmetrics ranges from $120 – $600 / month.
Mixpanel is similar to KISSmetrics in that it focuses on the user behind each click. You can define set actions called ‘events’ and monitor when each user performs them. Mixpanel offers more flexible pricing ranging from free to $2,000.
Cuing into social chatter and sharing relevant content is a great way to build an understanding of your customer base. There are a bevy of tools available to monitor your social influence and brand mentions as well as the social influence of your competitors.
These social media tools can help you identify your audience and their needs.
Measure your social influence and identify influencers in your space by monitoring Klout – a number that sums up the influence of someone through a number of factors. Lithium is an effective tool for conducting influencer outreach to reach a larger audience.
Tagboard allows you to search for hashtags and see their associated content across multiple social networks. This is an effective way to cue into trends.
This complete monitoring solution allows you to not just keep an eye on social channels for mentions of your brand – but blogs, news sites, and pretty much any other form of online content as well. Knowing who is talking about you can help you find your audience and better understand their needs.
Manta aggregates popular social content relevant to your brand and enables you to easily share it – helping you attract a more relevant audience. This can take some of the pressure to create original content off you.
Hootsuite enables you to easily manage your social content and solicit content ideas from your employees. Engagement, monitoring, and analytics help you make informed decisions about your audience and what content they are responding to.
Buzzsumo allows you to see how specific pieces of content are performing in terms of social shares. Great for analyzing competitor content or seeing what the top shared posts on a competitors website are.
This tool enables you to search Twitter bios and identify the most influential people in a space based on keyword. Helpful for seeing what kind of content these influencers share and what their audience looks like.
Looking into what people are searching for can help you identify your customer base. Keyword research is not only essential for SEO, but also for validating a product or market.
There are many tools out there to help you identify winning keywords.
Keyword Planner is the de facto tool for keyword research. You can start with seed keywords to discover relevant long-tail keyword terms people are searching for.
33) Keyword Tool
Keyword Tool is the non-Google alternative to Keyword Planner. The feature set is virtually the same with Keyword Tool claiming a lot of generated long-tail keyword terms for each seed term, 99.99% accuracy, and no need to create an account.
Another Keyword Planner alternative. This one gives you some more insight into the competition for each keyword. Unlike Keyword Tool, it’s a paid service.
35) Long Tail Pro
This brings the power of Keyword Planner to your desktop. It also features an algorithmic evaluation of the top 10 ranking sites for each keyword to give you an idea of the competition.
This tool allows you to enter a URL and look at top-performing keywords for that domain. The idea is to identify large players in your space to see which keywords they are spending their money and investing their SEO efforts in.
Want to create the most user-friendly experience possible? Usability testing tools allow you to monitor how people interact with your site in real-time. Invaluable insights can be gathered through conducting direct surveys or by remote observation. The results and feedback can then be used to refine the user-experience, fix flaws, reduce friction and boost overall conversion rates.
The biggest player in the market, UserTesting videos people as they carry out a set task on your website. You can run tests with your own customers or use a pre-selected audience provided by UserTesting, which can then be filtered by things like location, demographics and web proficiency. Videos are generally available within 1 hour so feedback is seriously fast.
UsabilityHub lets you conduct remote user testing with a range of options to best suit your needs. You can carry out simple surveys, monitor how people interact with your site, or ask people to pick a favourite between 2 different designs. And if you’re happy to offer your own test responses as part of the UsabilityHub community, the service is free.
Usabilla comes with a bundle of features, including a super-smart live feedback button that lets visitors comment and make suggestions about elements of your website they think need improvement. Alongside gaining feedback on your website, Usabilla also lets you gain insights into your emails and even your app, the added benefit of the latter being that users can leave feedback both online and offline.
Loop11 offers complete flexibility over survey design and you can test an unlimited number of websites with unlimited questions and tasks. The breezy setup process takes minutes and there’s no need to download any software – major bonus! You can invite up to 1000 users, run tests in over 40 languages and the first project is free.
Two major players dominate the A / B testing space. Both these platforms allow you to test and optimize your website for specific conversion goals. Split-testing things like content and messaging can help you correctly identify the needs of your audience.
Here are the differences between the two major split-testing platform.
Along with its suite of split-testing tools, Optimizely differentiates itself by focusing on personalization. It enables you to segment your audience and show different things to different people. It targeted to enterprise with pricing that starts at $999 / month.
VWO offers extensive split-testing and some personalization tools. Unlike Optimizely, it offers non-enterprise plans starting at $49 / month.
Not so long ago, conducting user research and analytics involved alternating between separate products. For some marketers, that’s kind of a hassle. But all-in-one research tools eliminate that tiresome task by letting you gather data and gain analytic feedback all in one place.
SumoMe aims to get you set-up fast. 37 seconds in fact. Once you’re signed up, there’s a host of tools to choose from including optimized contact forms, content analytics and a tool that lets visitors share images from your site and link back to you. The basic package is free but $10 / month gets you all the apps, VIP support and removes the SumoMe branding from your site.
HotJar brings together a stack of features including surveys, visitor recordings, funnels and 3 types of heat map. We also love the fact you can see how users interact with your site while on desktop, tablet and mobile. There’s a free version available with the basic plan starting from $29 / month.
Fresh out of beta testing, TruConversion promises to do a lot of similar stuff to HotJar. Users will be able to optimize conversions with a range of tools including heat maps, micro-surveys, funnels and form analytics. Plus, TruConversion integrates with all the major third-party applications. The grand launch is imminent.
Alongside 4 different types of heat map, Ptengine comes with a range of impressive tools to track metrics, enabling you to setup conversion goals, events, funnels and campaigns. It’s also one of the most affordable options in its class. Alongside a free version, the basic package starts at $7 / month.
These two resources require some digging but can uncover invaluable insights about your potential customers.
You’ve probably come across Quora when searching for answers to a question. You can use this platform to your advantage by working backward and seeing what your potential customers are asking.
SimilarWeb enables you to get insights into any highly trafficked website. You can see information like top referring channels, demographic information, and similar sites.
What else should be on this list?
Did we miss a customer research tool you think folks should know about? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below.