Getting to know and understand your customers through a survey is more than just possible, it’s the ideal way.
But only when your survey is optimized to learn about their lives and effectively designed to uncover the insights marketers, innovations and entrepreneurs need. Those insights are going to make your marketing decisions faster, easier and more accurate.
So let me tell you how to do it!
- The objectives for your get to know your customer survey
- The survey outline and structure
- The questions you can (and should!) avoid asking
- The questions you need to ask
The Objectives for Your Customer Survey
You should always customize the objectives for your survey to exactly what you need, but here are a few starters for ideas and editing, so start with these and build on them:
- Understand the life and lifestyle of your target audience in order to build an updated digital marketing strategy
- Explore and identify common experiences and perspectives among my target audience to hone in on digital ad targets
- Quantify and determine the most frequent behaviours within my target audience to generate new product ideas
- Gain a broad overview of the attitudes and experiences of my target audience to generate insights for new digital products
The Survey Structure
As a rule, we design questionnaires and surveys with a funnel structure. In this case, that’s going to mean our structure looks something like this:
- Living Situation and Life Stage
- Lifestyle and Experiences
- Behaviours and Attitudes
- Closing Demographics
The Survey Questions You Can (And Should!) Avoid
You only have so much time and so much space to get the information and the answers you need here, so we’re not going to waste time with questions like the ones below!
Sure, you should cover off some basics, but asking a ton of demographic questions will leave you with more questions than answers. We often think demographics like age and gender infer certain life stages or milestones, but those inferences are changing fast. Consider as well that people will only answer so many questions before they’re bored. So just get to the point and ask what you want to know!
There are ways we can, and do, ask about future behaviour within a quantitative survey, but people often don’t know how they’ll respond or what they’ll do in the future – there are so many variables that come into play. This isn’t the questionnaire for that type of complexity. We’re getting to know them, so we’re going to focus on where they’re at right now. That will include things they might be considering doing or future plans, but not asking them to speculate.
Yes or No Questions
Not only are there very few “yes or no” situations, they are a terrible way to get to know someone.
Our questions here are about the landscape of their life, how your business might fit within that, and we’re not going to get there with yes or no questions.
The Survey Questions You Should Definitely Ask
And here’s what you’re definitely going to want to ask your target audience. All these questions are going to flesh out your understanding of how your customer’s live their lives.
Living Situation and Life Stage Questions
We ask these questions because the way we live and the “stage” we’re at influences our daily needs and wants, which influence behaviours and experiences, which influences the products and services we require.
Think about how the make-up of a household will influence an individuals behaviour. You can ask:
Which of the following best describes your current living situation? The options you include, or are looking for should consider the spectrum of households e.g. Just me!, Me and my furry friends/pets, Me and my kids, Me and my partner and my kids, Me and my roommates, Me and my parents/siblings…
Think about how the type of home, or area around someone’s home will influence the access they have to certain items or experiences, and might put an individual inside, or outside your target market. You can ask:
Which of these best describe the area you live in? e.g. I live in an urban area within walking distance to many amenities, I live in a rural area where I have to drive everywhere
Which of these best describe the type of home you live in? e.g. I live in a fully-detached home, I live in a semi-detached home, or townhouse, etc.
The life stage we’re in is another huge indicator of what our priorities are and where our focus is. You can ask:
Which of the following life stages best describes where you’re at right now? e.g. I’m a college student living away from home, I just got my first job in my chosen career, I just had my first baby…
Lifestyle and Experiences Questions
The lifestyle and experiences we have, or aspire to, drives the context we want to see products and services in. They illustrate how we’ll use those products and services, and the emotional and functional jobs they’ll do for us.
So, while our life stage will influence what we need or want, like a baby stroller, or a pair of jeans, our lifestyle or experiences will influence the specific type of stroller or brand of jeans.
To narrow in on this, you’re going to use attitude statements, so something like:
How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements? The options they can choose from should cover off the range of lifestyles or experiences you need to understand, e.g. My house is currently on the way to looking like a greenhouse, I consume cannabis on a regular basis, I believe that I can manifest my reality, Thrifting is life!
To dig even deeper, you’ll use open ended questions that work to understand the items we surround ourselves with, or the feelings we want to curate in our homes. Try something like:
Can you tell me about one of your most treasured items in your home? What makes it so important to you?
Behaviours and Attitudes Questions
Now you’re building the last piece of the picture and it will help you tie together the information about life and lifestyle and attach it to behaviours and attitudes you can leverage.
The behaviours you should ask about are ones that related back to your product, service or cause. Something like:
Closing Demographic Questions
While we’re avoiding spending too much time on demographics we still want to be able to analyse your data in some basic groups. So, think about any digital ad targeting you might be doing, geographic limitations for shipping or service, or other limits like income that make them a target, or exclude them from your target. Things like:
Are you? Female, Male, Non-binary, Other, Prefer Not to Say
Which of the following income brackets does your household income fall into? Under 50K, $50K-$74K, $75K-99K, $100K
Which of the following areas do you like in? Western US, Mid-West US, Eastern US, South East US, South West US, I don’t live in the US…
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