Outreach tactics for successful customer research

Understanding your customer is critical to building a successful business. In order to get to know your customer, you need to conduct customer research. While you probably have a million questions you would like to ask your customer, you won’t get the chance to conduct this research if you don’t have a well-planned outreach strategy.

This article provides a brief overview of customer research and then dives into the tactics that will make your outreach strategy a success.

What is customer research?

There are different forms of customer research, but a few of the key methods are surveys, interviews and focus groups. Customer research can be conducted by your company or carried out by a third party. Going with a third party typically ensures findings remain unbiased, but startups can just as successfully conduct their own customer research, as long as they are very cognizant of eliminating bias. It is important to allow your customer to share their honest opinions, as well as to capture a comprehensive sample of your customer base.

Tactics for building your outreach strategy

People are constantly bombarded with emails, so capturing your customers’ attention in a way that makes them want to engage with you can be the hardest part of customer research. Here are a few key outreach tactics that can help you engage with your customers.

1. Introductions

If you are working with a third party, it is beneficial for your company to make the introduction and let the third party take over after the fact. Having the first email come from you, a company or relationship your customer is already familiar with, increases the chance your customer will engage with it.

2. Messaging

Your customer is likely receiving more emails per day than they can keep up with, so being clear and direct about the intentions of your email is key. Be explicit: What are you asking of your customer? What is in it for them? Tell them at the top of your communication.

If you are reaching out to someone you did not win the business of, make it clear that this is not another sales attempt. For example, you could say something along the lines of, “I know we didn’t win your business, but would you be willing to participate in a study that will help us better meet the needs of people like you in the future?”

3. Scheduling

People are busy and do not want to go back and forth, trying to schedule a meeting. Using a scheduling app such as Calendly to book an interview will help create a seamless process for the customer, increasing your chances of engaging with them.

4. Incentives

Offering the customer an incentive for participating in your interview or survey is an important aspect of increasing the participation rate. The incentive you offer will differ depending on who you are reaching out to and whether you’re a B2B or B2C company. While some consumers may be motivated by a gift card, some more senior people you’ll encounter in B2B sales may not be as driven by such perks. This means you’ll have to get creative. Can you offer something that will benefit their business, such as some insights you have learned through your research? It is important to have a clear conversation with your team about what you can offer before you begin reaching out.

Examples of incentives

Small perks

Incentives that can benefit the customers’ business 

  • Gift cards
  • Cash
  • Raffle draw
  • Insights you learned about their industry through your research
  • Exclusive access to perks your company can offer, such as marketing content

5. Sample size

In order to gather high-quality, comprehensive insights, it is integral that you conduct your research with a sample size large enough to let you make broader inferences. When you are interviewing customers, you should reach out to a sample that is at least three times larger than your sample-size goal. This is especially essential for B2B companies, who can find it more difficult to get customer participation.

When selecting your sample, it is also important to think about recency. If you can, try to reach out to companies you have engaged with in the past three months — this will increase your chance of engagement.

6. Tracking engagement

Tracking engagement is key. You can’t guarantee your first outreach strategy will work, so it is crucial to track the engagement resulting from each tactic and stagger your outreach. This will give you the chance to adjust your strategy based on the engagement data. One way to  track engagement is through an email marketing tracker, such as Intercom.

Hopefully, by following some of these outreach strategy tactics, you will be able to engage with your customers in a meaningful way and gain a deeper understanding of them.