In order to successfully sell your product, you need to have a complete understanding of your market. You need to understand the needs and pain points of your market to successfully position your products, execute product launches, and keep internal teams up to date on market trends. So, where can you gather all of this intel? Let's take a look at eight sources of competitive intelligence that will help boost your market research.Directly From Your Customers
The key source for understanding your target personas is from your customers themselves. At the end of the day, the center of a product marketer’s universe is their customers. Going straight to prospects and customers is a great way to understand market needs. Here are some effective ways to get insight about your market, from customers.
Whether it be among prospects or among current customers, conducting surveys can be beneficial to your product marketing strategy. You want to get a representative sample of the audience so that you can identify market trends. You can ask them at any stage of the product lifecycle as a way to find out customer pain points, use cases, feedback, and needs. You can then use that information to benefit your product iteration, customer happiness, and messaging.
Hosting Customer and/or Prospect Focus Groups
This is a great way to hear what current users think about your product. Hosting small group discussions can give you an inside look at what customers think about your product and how they talk about it with their peers. This is also an excellent way to gauge market readiness or interest if you’re considering launching new products.
Conducting interviews with your customers can give you insight that you wouldn’t get from a survey or a group setting. It’s much easier to ask open-ended questions and let them voice their opinions when it’s an interview rather than having them outline it in a survey. The intel from 1:1 interviews can help you enrich your personas and improve your product marketing strategy.Reviews
Users are extremely honest on review sites. You can explore review sites to discover how customers feel about your product, as well as your competitors’ products. You can gain intel about product strengths and weaknesses, customer service, and overall customer experience. Here are some places to source product reviews.
Monitoring support threads can give you insight into product and service gaps. Looking at help sites, support pages, and even social media support accounts can give you the intel you need. When curious prospects or current customers seek information, they turn to the internet to hear from those who have first-hand experience with the product, or multiple products in the market. Here are some helpful sources.
Quora and Reddit
Discussion websites such as Quora or Reddit are home to endless threads of market questions, concerns, and competitor comparisons. These sites can give you intel on competitors as well as give your team the opportunity to engage with potential and existing customers. The questions and answers on Quora are so robust, you can see what people are already talking about, or you can pose your own questions and gain specific market research.
Chatbots Hosted on Your Website
Chatbots can help you understand what your current customers and website visitors ask your support teams. This can give you insight into problems a customer may be having or what users in the market are looking for in your product. Common questions can inform new content to be created or FAQs to be added to your help page.
From your own helpdesk site, as well as your competitors’ help sites, you can see the FAQs that consumers often ask support teams. Use the questions from both your site and your competitors’ sites to understand pain points, product problems, and common market questions.
Twitter (and Other Social Platforms)
Most companies have a Twitter account, and many have one specifically dedicated to support. See what customers are saying and how companies respond to them.
Communicate the Intel
Once the intel is gathered from these sources, the next step is to effectively communicate the intel to key stakeholders. All teams should be equally as knowledgeable as product marketing when it comes to what the market wants, where your product should be sold, and how to properly penetrate the market. In fact, when it comes to social media, review boards, or support threads, you can arm your marketing team with intel and have them enter the conversations to give valuable insight. This information should be communicated with sales, marketing, and product, and this is an opportunity to share the current state of the market with executives.
The best way to understand your market is to dive into the market itself. Gathering competitive intelligence from these sources can help you gain a better understanding of your audience and improve your market research strategy.