7 Simple Ways to Get In Front of Customer Research

So you're ready to get your products in front of an audience. Whether you're selling homemade candles out of your living room or using a warehouse to dropship e-cigs, understanding your customers' decision-making process is a critical first step to prospering in the world of ecommerce.

Most purchasing decisions we make begin with research. Even customers who know what they're looking for ultimately want to know they're getting the best price. Depending on the products you sell, customers might engage in weeks or even months of research before committing to you or another seller, so it's important to ensure your product has visibility at this stage.

Customers might engage in weeks or even months of research before committing to you or another seller.

There are two types of questions consumers will ask before making purchases: general questions such as, "How do I accomplish x,y and z?" and specific questions such as, "Does this product have all of the features I need?"

Addressing both types of questions will allow you to cast the widest net when getting in front of customer research.

There are a range of ways you can address potential customer concerns, but you’ll want to begin by making a list of questions you might have if you were a customer yourself. If you're finding this difficult, consider that you likely already have a substantial repertoire of FAQs at your disposal. Try and remember conversations you've had with customers or even friends about your business and your products, check your live chat logs or phone notes for customer pain points and read your product reviews to help you get started. Content idea tools such as this can provide useful insights to help spark new ideas if your list is short.

Now that you've compiled your list of common potential customer questions, let's consider how to answer these.

1. Category Content

Category content is one of the most important aspects of online visibility. Search engines use your online content to form their understanding of what you do and who you target. The more robust your content is, the more opportunities you'll have to help search engines decide which keywords you're relevant for.

The more robust your content is, the more opportunities you'll have to help search engines decide which keywords you're relevant for.

Use your category content to address the more broad questions customers have when researching your products. Think about making product comparisons and providing a range of general selling points.

2. Product Content

Research doesn't stop for customers just because they're landed on one of your product pages. In fact, this is oftentimes where things get really competitive. If you neglect to address your customers' most pressing questions here, they'll end up going elsewhere to complete their research. Once they've left your site, it may be difficult to get them to return.

Depending on what you sell, it will be important to include information such as technical specs, size dimensions, operating instructions or fabric comparisons. Craft your product content in ways your customers will understand. A product picture of an item being used or worn can oftentimes be invaluable.

3. FAQs

An FAQs page on your site is a great way to address a variety of general questions your customers may have about your products or services. Here, you can include information about shipping costs or policy, any guarantees you might provide, information about refunds or returns or details about customizations.

Keep in mind that not all of your customers will have the same level of experience as you.

An FAQs page is also an excellent place to provide customers with a breakdown of industry slang or confusing language. Keep in mind that not all of your customers will have the same level of experience as you, and that it might be beneficial to provide FAQs for beginners as well as advanced users.

4. Resource Pages

Creating an informational library for your website can help you to cover topics that would be difficult to address elsewhere, but are critical in helping new customers find the information they want about your products. Resource pages that help your brand gain exposure during the research phase of the purchasing cycle often answer How, Why or Will/Can questions.

Providing resource content also makes you a valuable go-to for existing customers and can help you to improve your authority and trust online.

5. Social Media

Social media has become a major influencer for purchasing decisions. According to Facebook's latest stats, over 60% of Instagram users say they discover new products while browsing.

Over 60% of Instagram users say they discover new products while browsing.

Engaging with your audience and other users via social media helps to increase brand awareness and boosts your legitimacy. Social platforms provide a space to share and promote original content, and let your customers to talk about your products or services with each other and with you. Remember to address Facebook reviews, whether positive or negative, and encourage your followers to tag you in photos featuring your products.

6. Enable Reviews

If you haven't already, enable the Volusion reviews feature and email survey config to start collecting online reviews for your products today. Having positive reviews doesn't just improve click-through rate, reviews also help prospective customers research the products they're interested in buying. Oftentimes, one of the most helpful pieces of information comes from a customer who’s used the product and either liked or disliked it. Remember to address bad reviews publically so that prospective buyers know you're willing to work with them toward a resolution.

7. List Your Contact Info

Giving your customers the freedom to contact you on their own time increases customer satisfaction and loyalty. It also allows you the opportunity to set prospective buyers up for purchasing on your site. Research shows that customers prefer live chat over phone interactions, but prefer voice calls over reaching out via email or web forms.

Even with adequate product information or a list of FAQs, some customers will always have additional questions.

Even with adequate product information or a list of FAQs, some customers will always have additional questions. Providing a personal answer on the spot or as soon as possible will keep them on your site longer and increase chances for conversions.

The Bottom Line

Customer research is all about discovery. Making this experience positive and useful with information that's easy to find and navigate will greatly improve your chances of a conversion. Stay on the consumer radar with valuable on-page content, social media interactions, customer reviews and live chat or phone availability.

How are you helping prospective customers in the pre-buying stage of their purchasing journeys? Let us know in the comments.