When you’re trying to decide which strategies and offers will resonate most with your target audience, most marketers will make heavy use of the buyer personas. They construct detailed, theoretical prototypes of who they imagine their ideal customers to be.

Buyer personas are extraordinarily helpful tools. There’s no denying that. They can help you to focus and create more relevant marketing campaigns.

Buyer personas, however, are still limited. They can only tell you so much, because they’re often based in theory and basic data. For the rest of the information, it’s important for business owners to take a deep dive into what customers really want, which will allow you to create more relevant and thus more successful marketing campaigns.

There are four definitive, concrete ways that you can figure out what your customers actually want, and in this post, we’re going to take a look at each.

Market Research

Market research might sound expensive, but you can actually do most of it online for free.

My go-to plan of attack is to seek out reviews online written on third party sites discussing products similar to yours and look at forums. What do people need? What products and services are they looking for? Are there unmet pain points?

It’s not uncommon to see someone asking a group if anyone is familiar with a product “like product x” but that has additional capabilities or other features. You might also see that there are certain features or qualities people always look for in certain products; maybe they want to see treated vs untreated leather, or to find a product with better customer service.

Take note of what people are looking for. If you can deliver that, great! Sometimes people are looking for something that exists, but they’re unable to find it because it isn’t advertised correctly.

Customer Outreach

There’s no better way to find out what your customer wants than to ask your specific customers directly, and there are so many great tools that can help you do exactly this.

One way to do this is by reaching out to specific customers– particularly high-value customers– and scheduling a call. My invoicing software, Freshbooks, has done this several times, and they always ask about my experience, what features I’d like to see, and why I chose the software.

Another good option is to use digital surveys. If you incentivize customers who like you with a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card, you’d be surprised how many would come through and answer a five or ten minute survey.

When using surveys to figure out what your customers want and need, make sure that you’re using pointed questions. Focus on “why is this valuable to you” and “what could we do to improve it” instead of questions that can be answered with a simple yes or not.

If you’re ready to get started and send out some surveys, you can check out the following tools: Survey Monkey Responster SurveyGizmo

Competitor Research

While it may seem depressing to look for what customers want on your competitors’ sites, don’t worry– you aren’t accepting defeat. Instead, you want to learn from both what they’re doing well and their mistakes.

First, take a look at high-selling competitors and how they’re advertising their products. Are there certain features being highlighted? Maybe by mentioning one specific feature, they’re appealing to more customers.

Another important area of competitor research is going to be diving deep into their reviews. Look at the reviews of their companies on third party sites, but also look at reviews on individual products. Customers will let you know what they love, and they’ll definitely let you know what they hate. This can give you ideas for how to show that you offer something they want, or overcome common objections in the copy you write for your products.

A/B Testing

Once you’ve collected all this data, it’s time to start testing it out, and ultimately A/B testing will be the only way to figure out for sure what messaging, offers, and product highlights your audience actually responds to.

In a survey, for example, you might ask a customer how much they’d pay for a pair of shoes. They might answer $25, and of course everyone would pay $25; it’s a great deal. If you run an A/B test, however, that sees whether customers are more willing to purchase at $25 than $35, you may find that you maintain sales even with the price increase.

You can use our Neat A/B Testing Shopify app to quickly test out product attributes, including everything from the copy and images you use to the prices that you charge, testing the information that you’ve collected.

Run tests to assess price points, or create tests that will evaluate which features are most beneficial (and profitable) to highlight. Use what you learned during the research stages, and use these tests to find the answers you need.

You can choose the cycle time of 1 hour, 4 hours, 7 hours, or 24 hours. The cycle time refers to how often you’ll see the product attribute switch. Copy set A will be live for 24 hours, and then copy set B will be displayed for 24 hours. This will continue until you decide to stop the test and declare a winner.


It’s important to find new, original ways to appeal to your customers. Ideally, you should find the sweet spot of going over the basics while also highlighting features that make your product unique (or even just seem unique). If you’re able to find ways to differentiate yourself from the competition based on what customers are definitively looking for, this will give you an immense upperhand.

Lots of research and lots of a/b testing are going to be the only ways to know for sure what your audience really, truly wants. Guessing isn’t good enough, especially when all the data is right there and you just need to go find it.

Want to run some tests to see what your audience wants and responds to? Sign up for your free trial of our A/B testing plugin here.