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What are customer insights and how do you track them? Definition, types, and examples

Trying to function or deliver on user needs as a business without analyzing customer insights is like navigating an obstacle course blindfolded. Just because you think you know the course doesn’t mean you know how to get to the finish line. 

Customer insights merge customer analytics and market research data for a granular understanding of customer needs and behavior. They help businesses remove the guesswork by breaking down patterns in customer and competitor interactions and providing context to key consumer trends.

Last updated

3 Oct 2022

Reading time

10 min


This guide is your 101 to customer insights: learn what customer insights are, see examples of the types of insights you can track (and how to track them), and discover how customer insights help eliminate guesswork so you can create a brilliant customer experience.

Looking for a simple way to collect and analyze customer insights?

Hotjar’s tools let you go deeper into understanding key customer insights, so you know what works

What are customer insights?  

Customer insights are a collection of trends in consumer behavior, data, and feedback that helps businesses deeply understand their customers and their purchasing decisions

It’s important to collect quantitative and qualitative data from sources like website metrics and social media mentions, as well as market research and customer analytics, to form conclusive customer insights. While market research gives you an overall understanding of consumer behavior and market trends, customer analytics provides quantifiable data on what your customers do online. 

Tracking the qualitative and quantitative parts of a customer’s digital footprint—and using them to reveal key purchasing behaviors—helps businesses shape their service and product around how customers think and feel. 

Benefits of analyzing customer insights 

Collecting and analyzing customer insights answers crucial questions like: 

  • Why are sales down for a particular product? 

  • How likely are you to succeed in a new target market? 

  • How is your brand perceived by your audience? 

  • How do you increase conversion rates? 

  • How do your customers think and feel about a potential product?  

  • How do you upsell to customers? 

  • What are your inventory requirements?   

  • How do you outperform competitors? 

Answering these questions helps you determine if you're targeting the right market and make strategic customer-backed product improvements—for example, by increasing the range of products and services you offer. 

Customer insights also help businesses redesign or construct detailed customer profiles and customer journey maps to better highlight the exact features customers are looking for, display the right product at the right price point, personalize messaging—and improve the customer experience (CX). 

8 types of customer insights to collect and analyze

Use these data sources to inform your customer insights strategy, keep your finger on the pulse of shifting customer behavior and needs—and know what to improve. Not all of these insights may be relevant to your product: pick and choose the insights relevant to your specific business and user goals.

1. Online reviews

Online reviews give you direct access to voice-of-the-customer (VoC) data and can be leveraged for authentic insights into how your customers feel about your product. Use online reviews to identify what your product or brand is doing right, what your product helps customers do best, and what you can improve. 

To collect and act on online review insights: 

  • For ecommerce sites or startups: look at reviews on your website’s product pages, and on Google, Yelp, and Facebook, to spot the observations customers make. Use their comments and concerns to improve your product offering, and inform the way you write about your product on key conversion pages.   

  • For product teams or SaaS: look at niche review sites like G2, Trustpilot, and Capterra to stay on top of product feedback and complaints. Use your findings to guide future product or feature rollouts and better prepare customer service reps to give product guidance and support.

#Software comparisons on popular review websites like G2 give you important customer insights. Source: G2
Software comparisons on popular review websites like G2 give you important customer insights. Source: G2

2. Competitor reviews

Much like online reviews, checking out your competitors’ reviews shows you patterns in customer needs and purchasing decisions. Use competitor reviews to tell you how well your product stacks up against the current market, and what gaps you can fill. 

How to collect and leverage competitor reviews: 

  • Check out review websites (see: online reviews section above) to identify competitor drawbacks and better position yourself. For example, after reading multiple reviews of users complaining that a competitor’s music streaming tool doesn’t include a ‘select all’ playlist feature, a product team might prioritize that feature in their next update. 

  • Use tracking tools like Google Alerts to monitor online mentions of your competitors and their products. Use it to keep a close eye on trending customer sentiments—and identify any strengths your competitors have that you may lack. 

  • Do keyword research with tools like SEMrush or Google Adwords to see what customers are searching for, and whether your competitors meet their needs. Use your research to get ideas for new features or products that resonate with your target audience’s search intent and volume. Then, target similar keywords and find potential domains where you can build backlinks and brand authority. 

3. Purchase activity data

Tracking your customers’ purchasing activity lets you see which products are the most popular among individual customers and in general. 

This data gives you visibility into patterns like routine purchases, impulse purchases, and extensive decision-making purchases, so you can better predict which products to promote, and when.   

How to collect purchase activity data: 

  • Refer to your CRM: track purchases in your CRM to spot any seasonal patterns in purchasing activity, and stock accordingly

  • Leverage your ecommerce platform: if you’re an ecommerce business, use your platform’s reporting and analytics feature to access purchasing activity metricslike order history, key sales, average order value, and store visitor data. Use it to personalize communications and marketing campaigns, and to recommend similar products to your customers.  

  • Watch Hotjar Recordings of user sessions on key conversion pages like product and checkout to see what your customers click on or scroll past, what they buy, how they buy it, and what stops them from completing their purchase. Use these insights to identify products (or services) to build on, and spot any problems in your checkout process.

#Hotjar Recordings show you which products stand out to customers and what drives their purchasing decisions. Source: Hotjar
Hotjar Recordings show you which products stand out to customers and what drives their purchasing decisions. Source: Hotjar

4. Customer feedback

Collecting customer feedback through interviews and surveys gives you direct visibility into your customers’ micro experiences, journeys, and satisfaction levels. It also shows your customers you care about their experience. 

Remember: use closed- and open-ended questions in your customer experience surveys and interviews to get granular insights into customer sentiment and drive nuanced user experience (UX) design changes and improvements. 

How to collect customer feedback insights: 

  • Segment survey campaigns: group customers by category, like loyal customers, new customers, inactive customers, referrals, etc. Ask them questions based on their specific segment to quickly spot patterns in your user experience and their sentiments about your business and products. 

  • Distribute NPS surveys: create and administer Net Promoter Score® (NPS) surveys to gauge how likely your customers are to recommend your product or service to others on a scale of 1-10. Use this to determine if starting a referral program would be worth your time and investment, and identify areas where you can provide more value. 

  • Get your CSAT score: distribute customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys that ask your customers to rate their level of satisfaction with your product. Use your score to pinpoint strengths or weaknesses in your product or service. 

  • Implement feedback widgets throughout the customer journey. Use Hotjar Feedback widgets to unobtrusively collect customer insights while they’re using your website, and identify micro-moments within their journey that you can improve. For example, a SaaS startup might use feedback widgets to ask users what’s missing in their software to help identify ideas for new features.

5. Social media

Social media is a prime source to collect customer praise, complaints, and product use cases. You get access to popular comments, videos, and product comparisons that help you understand the language people use to talk about your product, why it’s trending, and what doesn’t make sense to customers

Use your social media insights to connect with customers and their perspectives on an emotional level, and discover their product interests and preferences. Here’s how: 

  • Poll your audience: Use Instagram 'Stories' or LinkedIn to poll your customers or target audience about new features and upcoming products. Ask them what they’re interested in or the features they’d like to see. For example, after polling their followers about their favorite fall accessories on Instagram, an ecommerce store might prioritize selling hats over boots this season. 

  • Use social listening tools like Hootsuite or Brandwatch to monitor mentions of your brand or product. Interact with your customers, keep up with current opinions, and track popular comments to know exactly what to improve. 

  • Harness social media analytics: track social media metrics like engagement rate, impressions, conversions, response rate, etc., for additional customer insights. Use this information to align your social feed and following with your ideal customer profile (ICP) and better tailor your product offering. 

6. Website data

The following sources of website data help you understand customer needs, drivers, and paths to purchase:

  • Demographic data involves a customer’s age, location, job title, etc.

  • Behavioral data consists of the keywords customers use to find your product, the paths they take through your site, the web pages they linger on, and the content they engage with most.  

  • Campaign data refers to key conversion pages and what’s driving leads and sales

How to collect website data: 

  • Use Google Analytics to track and report website traffic, metrics, and trends. Get access to important information like conversion rate, time on page, or pages per session to see which web pages and channels perform (and which don’t). Then, use your findings to drive website and product improvements. For example, after noticing your new landing page is driving traffic, but not conversions, your web design team can alter CTA placement to attract more clicks. Then, check if your new CTA design is doing the trick by combining analytics with Hotjar Heatmaps to see if your customers are clicking on your CTA, or whether they're getting distracted by other elements on your page.

  • Use Google Search Console to measure your website’s performance and traffic, and optimize your website to rank on search engines. See how many clicks you get and your average ranking position to understand how well your site performs against the competition. Then, identify topics and keywords that will improve your content’s findability.

💡Pro tip: combine quantitative metrics from Google Analytics with qualitative insights from Hotjar to understand the ‘why’ behind leading customer actions and trends, and paint a fuller picture of the customer experience. For example, after seeing a significant increase in churn, a customer success team might use Hotjar exit-intent Surveys to ask customers why they’re canceling their subscription. These surveys might reveal that customers can’t access their user dashboard, which is an essential part of the software’s value proposition.

The customer success team can then respond quickly by putting in a request to better integrate their dashboard into the onboarding process.

Hotjar Exit-intent Survey points you to the reasons behind customer churn . Source: Hotjar

Hotjar's exit-intent Surveys lets you ask customers why they're leaving your site or canceling their subscription

7. Customer service data

Tracking customer service data helps you understand customer frustrations, pain points, and friction areas within your product or service. Digging deeper into common customer complaints, queries, or help requests lets you spot and prioritize product improvement opportunities.  

When collecting customer service data, you need access to: 

  • Customer support tickets: look for patterns in customer complaints, troubleshooting, and product fixes for insight into your biggest problem areas. Leverage this information to know where to start with product improvements. 

  • Chatbot or live chat data: see trends in customer support conversationswhat resources customers need, what questions they ask, and what they need help with most. Use this to create an FAQ section on your website, and provide helpful self-service resources like product guides and knowledge bases, so your customers have everything they need to get the best out of your product. 

8. Case studies and testimonials 

Case studies and testimonials are different forms of customer feedbackthey describe the problem and show you how your solution solved it. 

They help you understand the overall story behind your customer’s pain, how they found your solution, and how it helped them achieve their goals—so you can experience the buyer journey from their perspective and make it a repeatable process. 

How to collect data from case studies and testimonials: 

  • Email surveys to your customers: send surveys to product advocates, brand champions, and power users with detailed questions about their experience. Use their responses to write more compelling copy on your landing, product, and home pages. Or you can post them directly on your website as case studies. 

  • Reward customers who agree to participate. Ask select customers to send video footage or a written testimonial detailing their success story in exchange for a discount or loyalty points. Use B2B customer insights to bolster your sales pitches and how you talk about your product’s unique selling point (USP).  

Leverage customer insights to create delight

Collecting and analyzing customer insights helps you better predict and meet customer needs—and make informed decisions about your site or product to provide your users with an amazing customer experience.

Get valuable customer insights from a wide range of sources including:

  • Online and competitor reviews

  • Purchase activity

  • Customer feedback

  • Website and social media data

  • Customer service data

Use this guide to spot any gaps in the insights you currently collect, and drive customer-backed improvements. Then, leverage product experience insights tools to get context into your customer analytics data, to know exactly what you need to do to create customer delight.

Looking for a simple way to collect and analyze customer insights?

Hotjar’s tools let you go deeper into understanding key customer insights, so you know what works

FAQs about customer insights