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The value of customer research

Why it makes your content better: We’re all familiar with the power of research, and how critical it can be to understanding your customers, exploring your markets, and even uncovering new opportunities. But have you ever thought about how customer research can be a valuable source of content for your marketing team? Content can build on that all-important sense of authenticity, resonating with your target audience, and even providing new avenues of relationship with your customers.


There are almost as many types of research approaches and methodologies out there as there are audiences, but they can be broadly broken down into quantitative and qualitative approaches. Qualitative research looks at the “what” or “why” of the problem you’re looking at, often forming open-ended questions and exploring the respondents attitudes or beliefs. Quantitative research looks at “how many”, “how often”, or “how much” styles of questions and is designed to spot trends, predict future behaviours, and understand the differences between types of audiences. Good research can and often does use both—depending on the desired information that you’re trying to discover.


The standard customer survey, for example, designed around gathering information about your market or your business, is fantastic from a top-level view. It helps guide marketers on a strategic level—and the qualitative aspect of these surveys can also help you to uncover facets of your audience that can lead to engaging pieces of content. For example, a question like “rate how easy it is to use our app on a scale from 1-5” is a great way to identify macro trends.

In contrast, asking customers to tell their stories about how using the app makes their lives easier, or the challenges that they encounter, can be turned into social posts, or collated into larger pieces of content that will resonate with your market—as they’re genuine customer experiences.



of information is retained if it consists of statistics alone


more likely to retain information in the form of a story


of customers trust testimonials


Stories are extremely powerful. Research from the London School of Business shows that people retain only 5% to 10% of information if it consists of statistics alone. However, when they hear a story, they remember 65% to 70%. And psychologists theorise that information is 22x more likely to be retained if it’s presented in the form of a story. We are wired to process information in this way. Neuroscientists have discovered that cortisol, dopamine, and oxytocin are released when we’re told a story. These chemicals help us retain information, make an emotional connection, and experience genuine empathy.

This bias towards stories is also clear to see in marketing performance. It’s why case studies are such a powerful tool in the B2B customer journey—and why testimonials have been used for decades in both B2C and B2B advertising. In fact, a survey from Bigcommerce found 88% of customers stated that they trust testimonials as much as they do recommendations from family or friends.


First party research is kind of the opposite side of the coin to user-generated content. Using real opinions and stories—from existing or potential customers—can provide your marketing efforts with an authority and authenticity that’s hard to ignore.
Anthony Wilkinson, Director of Content and Marketing, The Fold Creative


Once you’ve conducted your survey, how then do you turn what you have into an effective and useful piece of content? That all depends on your goals, and why you’ve chosen to gather your research in the first place. It could be that you were looking for real-world validation of your marketing personae—to bring them further to life. You could also be looking to create a new piece of content that shows how customers are interacting with your products or market—with real-world examples to increase authenticity, improve relatability, or even help educate your clients about their own end consumers.

Whatever your goal, the next natural step in using research for storytelling is to interrogate the responses, looking for common themes and elements that you can weave together into a coherent narrative. A useful way to categorise these elements is around your story goals—the messaging beats you’re looking to convey. From there, the narrative should come together and your content should be on the way to completion.

So, whether you choose video interviews with your customers or written testimonials that paint a picture of your customer experience, leveraging the power of stories makes your business, your products and services, and your brand more authentic, more relatable, and ultimately more attractive.

Types of research

Here’s just a few methods of research that you can use to gather data that can help to underline your narratives:

Desktop research: Gathering existing research to understand macro attitudes, markets, etc.

Customer suRveys: Good for a pre-arranged response to set questions on a particular subject, with little to no flexibility to follow up.

Interviews: A more freeform, but pre-arranged interview to establish peoples’ thoughts and feelings. The interviewer can probe to get more custom, deeper insight but all the responses are subjective.

Vox pops: A more ad-hoc method of interview where you interview random passers-by, for example, people in a shopping centre. Usually gives light-touch, top-level responses.


If you’d like to explore the power of stories—why not drop us a line at