“The customer knows best.”

👆 A well-established expression for many companies – and for good reason. Ultimately, your customer is going to buy your product based on what they want, and they're looking for - not what you think will sell well.

Gathering these consumer insights is your opportunity to tailor your products – and how you market them – to their personalized needs, hopefully then bringing in those coveted sales.

But how can you do this successfully?

In this article, Aileen McGraw, Senior Product Marketing Manager at GoFundMe outlines the guiding principles of gathering consumer insights, focusing specifically on:

  • What are consumer insights?
  • B2B vs B2C consumer insights
  • Quantitative vs. qualitative data in consumer insights
  • How to gather consumer insights
  • The most valuable tools for gathering consumer insights

What are consumer insights?

Consumer insights is a deceptively simple concept. It’s all about understanding your (and I'm stressing that word for a reason) customer and using that information to drive greater business impact. I think of the product marketer’s role within that as making a path to understanding our customers.

An insight is a combination of a few things. First of all, there are facts. Many of us have access in our roles to a lot of quantitative data, behavioral data, facts on the ground, market data, and data about our competitors.

Those are facts, and they can hint at decisions, but you'll be left wondering what all those numbers mean unless you can combine them with recommendations.

The other piece of the puzzle is more quantitative data about your customers. You want to find out what they’re doing on your platform, how often they're using various features, and what they might be missing that's a core part of your product or experience.

And then there's what your users say and more psychographic data – what's waking them up at night, but also inspiring them to get out of bed in the morning? Where else do they spend their time and money? What are their core values? What do they care about?

That all creates a really full picture that we can use alongside lots of quantitative insights to drive business decisions.

Is there a difference between B2B and B2C consumer insights?

Yes. The difference between B2B marketing and B2C is that oftentimes in B2B, your decision maker is different from your end user.

When I was a product marketer for developer services at Microsoft and I was thinking about the right insights to bring to the table, I would always have to keep in mind what devs care about.

I know they hate marketing, so I wasn’t going to use marketing terminology or anything like that. But at the same time, who in their organization is making the decision to use Azure? Not them, so we have to take the decision-maker into account too.

There are a lot of ways to think about what motivates decisions and the trends we see across the market on the decision-maker side. And then from the user’s side, we need to pay attention to the behavior we see when they're using our product and the features that provide them with the most value.

The luxury we have on the consumer side of product marketing is that our end user is also the decision maker.

If you want to use the magic of B2B in a consumer tech role, there are so many things that you can do. I know that stories are supposed to be short, but there are great reports with market data and white papers that you can really dive into. I wouldn't think of any kind of information as too corporate or too commercial to use in consumer product marketing.

On the B2B side of consumer insights, you want to have the scale and statistical significance for your findings, but it can be really helpful to get scrappy with things like quick surveys. There are tons of ways to get statistical significance really quickly with tools like Perksy or any gen pop surveying tool.

Quantitative data vs. qualitative data in consumer insights

When it comes to quantitative or qualitative consumer insights, the answer, of course, is that you need both. You can't drive a strategy without either. However, one thing you always want to find out when you’re gathering consumer insights is whether people do what they say.

I've been in plenty of user interviews and focus groups where people have been like, “I just wish you did this for us and made it easier to do this,” and then you look at their behavior in product and it doesn't match up with what they said they cared about.

You always want to ask yourself if you have enough behavioral data on activity in your product, and then you need to ensure you can compare that with qualitative data on what people are saying they care about. If there’s a Venn diagram where those overlap, that's fertile ground for insights.