How to Use Customer Surveys to Determine Market Fit

It’s important to determine the “market fit” for your product before you begin advertising or marketing it. In other words, is there significant demand for this product within your defined target audience and niche?

But how can you accomplish this? One of the best tools at your disposal is a customer survey. With a well-designed survey, you can evaluate your product market fit (PMF) and determine whether your product is appropriate for your defined segments.

Important Questions to Ask

When evaluating product market fit through a PMF survey, make sure you’re only reaching out to customers who are familiar with your product. Some rules of thumb are to survey customers who have used your product at least twice, or at least once in the last 2 weeks.

The questions you ask should help you get a better feel for how your customers feel about your product, where they derive the greatest value, and whether they think the product is a good fit. There are several questions you can ask to gather better data. Some of them are quantitative and rather closed, giving respondents a finite selection of answers to choose from. Others are qualitative and more open-ended, allowing respondents the chance to provide more details about how they feel. You’ll need both to capitalize on the benefits of each.

·      How would you feel if you could no longer use this product? Use a 3-point answer scale: Not disappointed, Mildly disappointed, or Very disappointed. This question gets at the heart of how much of a must-have your product is. The more disappointed your customers are, the closer you are to product market fit.

·         Demographic/profile questions. Figure out who this person is and whether they’re part of the segment you want to study.

·     What’s the greatest value you get from this product?

·     What do you like/dislike most about this product? This question is best left open-ended.

·     Would you recommend this product for anyone else? Follow up by asking who they would recommend this product for.

·         How much would you pay for this product? Keep the competition in mind.

Mediums and Channels

In the modern era, there are many ways to execute a survey. You can use email, phone calls, text messages, or even social media. Generally speaking, email and text messages tend to get higher response rates, since they can be completed at a person’s convenience. Putting the survey directly into your app is also a great way to get real-time feedback as your customer uses your product. However, you may be interested in using multiple mediums to broaden your reach.

Nailing the Sample Size

As any statistician will tell you, sample size is vital to conducting a good survey. The number of people you have completing a survey will have a profound impact on the consistency and reliability of your takeaways. If your sample size is too small, you won’t have enough data to form a meaningful conclusion about audience opinions. If the sample size is too big, the data you collect will be redundant – and you’ll end up wasting time and money unnecessarily. All things considered, it’s better to err on the size of “too big.”

Other Important Tips

These tips can help you get better results from your customer surveys:

·   Keep it short. Human attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, driven by the immediacy of the internet and increasingly short forms of communication. If your survey looks like it’s going to be too long or too complicated, most of your audience will never complete it. 

If it’s too grueling a process, they might even abandon the survey when it’s halfway completed. Combat this by keeping your survey to less than ten questions at a time, and let people know how long it’s going to take to complete (ideally, 5 minutes or less).

·     Consider giving a reward. If you’re having trouble getting the participation rates you need, or if you want a bigger sample from the outset, consider offering a reward. A discount, gift card, or even free piece of content could be ample to incentivize more people to complete your survey. Even if it costs a bit more, it may be worth it.

·   Commit to further surveys with iterative product design. Do you plan on making improvements to your product? Or releasing new products in the future? Be ready to follow up with future iterations of your survey so you can gather more data and compare audience reactions.

With better data from well-designed customer surveys, you’ll have a much better idea of whether your product is a good fit for the market. If you gather information that’s troubling in any way – like if you discover a fierce competitor that outclasses you in a specific way or if your target demographics aren’t as into your product as you thought – it’s a critical opportunity to make improvements and try again. 

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