Shopping experience

Know Thy Customer: Why You Need Qualitative Research If You Want to Convert

Customer research can be done in a lot of different ways. If you spend the time and make the effort to build out a reliable analytics program and a customer research program, you can rest assured that the tests you develop and run will provide actionable results.

Bonus Material: <cc-checklist>50 Questions to Ask in Customer Surveys<cc-checklist>

An ecommerce with $5 million in annual recurring revenue needed our help to find out what was wrong with their checkout process. 

(Yes, even successful businesses need help sometimes.)

They had a solid analytics program and the ability to analyze that data. Still, they got no answers.

People kept abandoning their checkout process on that page at an alarming rate.

We looked at the tests – they were solid.

We looked at the data and analytics – also solid.

Then we asked, “What do your customers say?” 

They hadn’t asked!

It turns out their trust elements were scaring people away.

The company was, proud of its commitment to security, and was using Komodo, "verified by Visa", and had SSL certificate info.

And customers were freaking out about it. 

“Why would they need the best security? It seemed like maybe there was a reason like something bad had happened in the past,” one customer told us. Many agreed.

We ran the tests based on that idea, and they confirmed – the line about Komodo had to go, for example. 

And then we helped the company set up a robust customer research program, the qualitative complement to their already successful quantitative analytics program.

The two lessons you have to start with:

  1. Challenge your assumptions through testing.
  2. Put your data into human context, always.

‍Data can tell you a lot, but to get context, you need to talk to people. Don't make assumptions!

How to Approach Qualitative Customer Research The Right Way

Customer research can be done in a lot of different ways. 

However, if you want the best insights for your ecommerce, we recommend approaching it in four different ways:

1.Calling and interviewing customers

This straightforward method has probably been around since the telephone was invented (but don't quote us on that).

Calling and interviewing customers, especially on the phone, is a great method of qualitative research because it allows you to expand on the answers and quickly follow up with questions.

Consider compensating the customer for their time too – a discount voucher could do! You're also welcomed to try a non-incentivized approach first, but incentives help you get more calls confirmed and spend less time trying to get people to agree.

You can also supplement phone calls with on-page chat apps like Intercom or Drift. These won’t replace voice or face-to-face interviews, but they can lower the barrier to having a conversation with a real customer.

2. Tracking interactions

Tracking interactions gives you the ability to consider your customer’s actions in the context of your real page. And it can be used in both qualitative and quantitative research.

This way, you have a visual response to the way customers interact with elements of your page. Tracking interactions shows you exactly what actions they take – and don’t take.

Heat maps, analytics, scroll mapping, and referral tracking will help you with that.

3. Surveying customers

Having anti-social customers that refuse to phone or in-person interviews? 

Surveying can be your solution.

With a lower barrier, it's an effective way to get customer feedback and other useful information – even though you can't clarify answers or ask follow up questions.

If you want to understand how your product fits into your customers' lives, simply implement a user form on your website.

Ask questions about customer demographics, how they use your product, and what they want from your product and experience on your site. Then wait for their insights to arrive.

4. Usability testing

Usability testing lets you watch users interacting with your website in real time.

Sounds creepy, but watching users can give you a lot of insight.

It’s especially useful for multi-stage operations like onboarding or checkout sequences, or to see if elements of your page are as intuitive as you think they are.

If you’re trying to understand how your customers physically interact with certain elements on the page, usability testing might be the solution you need.

Sites like UserTesting will even ask the tester to think out loud

Get The Best Out Of Your Customer Survey

It can be overwhelming to start something from scratch. 

We get that. And we're here for you.

If you’re thinking about implementing a customer research program, try one campaign first.

Examine what areas of your e-commerce site you’d like to work on optimizing first, and create a brief survey asking about customers’ experiences in that realm. Then send it to your email list (you have one, right?) with a friendly introduction.

If you'd like to expand, include that survey on your website, and then move toward asking questions through chat. 

Adding a customer research component to your conversion rate optimization doesn’t mean you have to sign up to fancy tools.

Ask the right discovery questions

Don't ask the same questions to different audience segments.

Generally speaking, you have three main types of people you want to reach through your customer research efforts:

  • Qualified nos
  • Customers who bought moments ago
  • Existing customers

And these data are what you should find out from each group:

  • Where customers come from
  • Discover appeals
  • Understand reservations
  • Understand position relative to your competitors

Depending on how much time your customers are willing to give you, here are some more ideas of what you can ask.

These are, of course, suggestions. Be mindful of your customers' time, and focus on the questions that aim to give you relevant data for further testing.

Identify Testing Opportunities by Combining Quantitative and Qualitative Research

Hey there. How are you? 

The way we answer that question has a lot to do with qualitative research.

After all, we don't always answer questions directly. Sometimes we lie. And sometimes we tell people what they think they want to hear. 

All good. And you? 

Your customers are humans too, you know?

Relying on customer research only isn’t a good idea either. 

Qualitative and quantitative data can tell you what to test, and together, for the solid foundation of your testing process.

If you spend the time and make the effort to build out a reliable analytics program and a customer research program, you can rest assured that the tests you develop and run will provide actionable results.

This way, you get three-dimensional insights.

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