January 23, 2020

Marketing Research: 5 examples of discovering what customers want


No question is more central to marketing than — what do customers want?

What products do they want to buy? What type of content marketing will they read? Or watch? Perhaps listen to? What do they expect after they click on my ad?

The list could go on.

To help you hone in on customer desires, today’s article provides an inside look at tactics five different companies used to learn about what their customers want.

Read on for five examples from a bank, a comparison site, a translation service and two different jewelers.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

(As seen in the MarketingSherpa newsletter. Click to get a free email subscription to the latest from MarketingSherpa.)


Example #1: A/B testing for a national bank

You can learn what customers want by conducting experiments on real-life customer decisions using A/B testing. When you ensure your tests do not have any validity threats, the information you garner can offer very reliable insights into customer behavior.

Here’s an example that Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute (parent organization of MarketingSherpa), shared in How to Discover Exactly What the Customer Wants to See on the Next Click: 3 critical skills every marketer must master.

A national bank was working with MECLABS to discover how to increase the number of sign-ups for new checking accounts.

Customers were getting to the landing page from a link that said “Open in Minutes” from a banking section of the homepage. The link was located next to the word “Checking.”

Creative Sample #1: Anonymized bank homepage

After clicking on the homepage link, visitors were taken to a four-question checking account selector tool.

Creative Sample #2: Original checking account landing page — account recommendation selector tool

After filling out the selector tool, visitors were taken to a results page that included a suggested package (“Best Choice”) along with a secondary option (“Second Choice”). The results page had several CTAs. Website visitors were able to select an account and begin pre-registration (“Open Now”) or find out more information about the account (“Learn More”),  go back and change their answers (“Go back and change answers”), or manually browse other checking options (“Other Checking Options”).

Creative Sample #3: Original checking account landing page — account recommendation selector tool results page

After going through the experience, the MECLABS team hypothesized that the selector tool wasn’t really delivering on the expectation the customer had after clicking on the “Open in Minutes” CTA. They created two treatments and tested them against the control experience.

In the first treatment, the checking selector tool was removed, and instead, customers were directly presented with three account options in tabs from which customers could select.

Creative Sample #4: Checking account landing page Treatment #1

The second treatment’s landing page focused on a single product and had only one CTA. The call-to-action was similar to the CTA customers clicked on the homepage to get to this page — “Open Now.”

Creative Sample #5: Checking account landing page Treatment #2

Both treatments increased account applications compared to the control landing page experience, with Treatment #2 generating 65% more applicants at a 98% level of confidence.

Creative Sample #6: Results of bank experiment that used A/B testing


You’ll note the Level of Confidence in the results. With any tactic or tool you use to learn about customers, you have to consider whether the information you’re getting really represents most customers, or if you’re just seeing outliers or random chance.

With a high Level of Confidence like this, it is more likely the results actually represent a true difference between the control and treatment landing pages and that the results aren’t just a random event.

The other factor to consider is — testing in and of itself will not produce results. You have to use testing to actually learn about the customer and then make changes to better serve the customer.

In the below video, McGlaughlin discusses this experiment with a national bank, and he explains how to use prioritization, identification and deduction to discover what your customers want.



Example #2: Site search analysis by a jeweler

Your website should be designed to quickly get people to the products and information they want.

However, you will never be able to design a website that effectively serves up the right info for every single motivation.

In this case, having a clear and obvious search option can help.

But installing search on your site doesn’t only help customers find what they’re looking for (or the closest thing to it on your website). It also helps you discover what customers want.

“One way we find out what customers want is by tracking the internal searches on our website. Not only is this reviewed and reported each month, we also have a specific custom report which alerts us when there is a spike in any search phrase on our website. This helps us stay on top of things in terms of customers’ wants,” said Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager, Moriarty's Gem Art, which runs the website Mother’s Family Rings.

For example, the team started seeing a spike in internal website searches for “Irish” and “Celtic” mother's rings. Because of this, they designed a line of Celtic mother’s rings. Then they optimized their webpages for Google search and advertised it in Google Adwords.

“It's now our best-selling type of mother's rings. I took a look at Google Analytics, and this product line (Celtic) in 2019 brought 15% of our revenue for the year,” Moriarty said.

“This is the power of the internal [website] search. It is a wealth of data that belongs to you only if use it,” he said.

Example #3: Learning from other industries to create a comparison site

We’re not only business owners, marketing leaders and analytics experts. We’re also customers — all of us.

You shouldn’t bifurcate your marketing journey too neatly into personal life and professional life. Learn what customers want by considering your own time as a customer in your personal life. You can garner these lessons even from very different types of products than the ones you sell.

For example, Raj Dosanjh was looking for a property manager for the five rental properties he owns.

“I was using GoCompare.com to find a good deal on car insurance. The site told me I'd saved £365 on my insurance with a five-star rated provider,” Dosanjh told me.

“I thought it would be great if Go Compare could help me find a property manager. Of course, they couldn't. So I created the comparison tool myself.”

Dosanjh started RentRound.com, a UK-based property manager comparison site, mixing his experience as a customer with his previous business experience working for companies like Bank of New York Melon, Barclays Bank and Deutsche Bank.

He uses lessons learned in his previous roles when marketing his own product. “Marketing these days is too based on theory and the use of keywords. Knowledge of the industry and product is the way to go,” he said.

One previous experience he has learned from was a vendor selection process at Barclays. A software vendor worked with a number of the bank’s competitors and implied that those competitors who faced the same projects as Barclays were further advanced in meeting project and regulatory deadlines because of the vendor’s software.

“Instead of the pitch showcasing just what the software does, it focused on the bank’s upcoming pain points and how competitors are dealing with it,” Raj said. “This differed from other vendors who spend a lot more time just showing us the software, not practical examples of use against the bank’s upcoming regulatory risk areas.”

Example #4: Questionnaire by a family-owned and operated jewelry store

While there are many ways to theorize on customer wants based on observing their actions through data, don’t overlook the simplicity of just asking them.

You must take the responses you get with a grain of salt. After all, sometimes they are just being nice. Or sometimes they don’t know what they want themselves. As Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

But you can learn a lot as well.

Here’s an example. Rogers and Hollands is a family-owned and operated jewelry store that sells through ecommerce and also has 78 retail stores. The company implemented a pop-up questionnaire that customers receive before leaving the website.

“We [implement] this multiple times throughout the year, sometimes across the entire site, or on specific products and collections. It’s one of the most effective ways to get feedback directly from customers and potential customers in real time,” said Celeste Huffman from Rogers and Hollands marketing team.

One thing they learned from the questionnaire was that customers wanted to purchase in a physical retail store but didn't know how to from the product page.

“We actually have the option to pick up in-store, but it was in the checkout only, which we could now see was confusing. Our plan in the first quarter is to make the pick-up-in-store option visible and an option right on the product page. We haven't implemented yet, but we are assuming it will lead to more brick-and-mortar sales,” Huffman said.

Example #5: Product sales analysis by a translation agency

At its essence, what is a product, really?

Companies create value. And then they transfer that value to customers through the products they sell.

These products are just a hypothesis of how customers want to receive that value. This is true for physical products and especially true for service-based businesses.

By analyzing what your customers buy and how they use those products and services, you might find a better way to package the value your company provides into a product that is for sale.

GTS Translation Services sells professional translation services online.

Over the last few years, the team noticed a lot of orders for Hebrew-English translation of customers’ wedding Ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract). This service had increasing demand because many couples were using the translation as part of their wedding vows.

Based on how customers used the translation services, the team essentially created a new product by launching a landing page for Ketubah Translation Services that had a call-to-action to get a price quote to translate a Ketubah.

Creative Sample #7: Landing page for new Ketubah translation services product


This page is in the top three results on Google for “Ketubah translation services” and a number of other keyword variations.

“We have created dozens of successful landing pages for other niche services in our field — for example, ‘employee handbook translation’ which is a good-selling service; ‘chemical handling SDS documents translation’ which is also in high demand. Using this method of reverse engineering landing pages has increased traffic for us by hundreds of extra clicks per month. These clicks are also very targeted and have a high conversion rate,” said David Grunwald, managing director, GTS Translation Services.

“I think that this is a good model for other companies to follow. Find the best-selling products in your field and create specific landing pages for them. Use keyword research tools — like SEMrush — to find the best keywords and create the content around those keywords. Keep on adding new landing pages and see your traffic and conversions grow,” Grunwald advised.

Related Resources

Online Testing On-demand Certification Course from MECLABS Institute (MarketingSherpa’s parent organization)

How a Cloud-Based Video Creation Service Uses Testing to Better Understand What Customers Want

Marketing Research Chart: The most popular ways consumers discover new products

Finish Line Tells Us What Customers Want in Email Marketing


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