Unlocking the Power of Segmented Customer Insights

You've probably heard, "talk to your customers!" but that advice doesn't address the *how* to talk to them or even *which* customers can best help you uncover the insights you need to solve specific and thorny business problems.

Segmenting customers into different stages based on lifecycle allows you to pull targeted, actionable insights that can improve market fit, smooth onboarding, enhance customer satisfaction, and reduce churn. It’s one of the easiest ways to reverse-engineer your customer acquisition to focus on interested customers who are eager to love your product.

Let me break down the 5 types of customers you should be speaking to regularly, in order of priority, and highlight the specific benefits of talking to each customer segment including:

✅ How to easily define different segments
✅ How each segment can help you solve a different business problem
✅ The specific types of insights that each segment can deliver
✅ How hard it is to talk to each segment
✅ And walk through the best-fit channels to get these insights

#1 New Customers

These are customers who have recently paid for your product (usually within the past 3-6 months). They do not include users who signed up for a trial or a freemium user. They need to demonstrate that they have a vested interest in using your product - and that’s communicated with money.

This segment can help you understand the struggles and desired outcomes of your customers. They can highlight their buying journey, uncover objections to purchase, and address your real competition, vs what an industry white paper or your sales team may tell you.

  • What to ask this segment: Why were you looking to switch or choose a product like ours? How smooth was your purchase/onboarding? Anything confusing you right off the bat? Anything you wish the product did but doesn’t do? What other products were you looking at or evaluating? Why did you choose our product over other options.
  • Benefits of talking to this segment: Ideal for pulling Voice of Customer research to help refine positioning and create sticky copy across all channels, create Jobs-to-be-done statements, help with customer acquisition planning including channel identification, and inform the product roadmap with desired features and functionality.
  • Difficulty level: Medium
  • Insights quality level: High
  • Insights channels: 1:1 customer interviews are ideal. Customer surveys are second-best

#2 Prospective Customers

Prospective customers or prospects are potential customers who haven’t given you money but are actively evaluating your solution. This segment could also include free trial users or freemium users.

Insights from this segment can help you understand market needs and trends, uncover objections to purchase, highlight sticky messaging or valuable product features and benefits, and provide insight into the motivation that’s pushing them to look for a new product or solution.

  • What to ask this segment: What's catching your eye? Any roadblocks stopping you from signing up? Why are you looking for a new solution? What solution are you using right now?
  • Benefits of talking to this segment: Highlight real competitors and competitive insights, reveal customer motivations for looking for a new product or solution, and this segment is good for copy testing if prospects are actively evaluating other options.
  • Difficulty level: easy
  • Insights quality level: medium-low (Focus on volume of responses to normalize outliers)
  • Insights channels: on-site survey, email survey

#3 Active Customers

Active customers have purchased your product and have, most likely, gone through a renewal cycle or been a customer for 6+ months (depending on your industry).

Talking with these customers can provide key insights into overall customer satisfaction, usage habits and frequency, and provide insights into upsell or growth expansion opportunities.

  • What to ask this segment: Why did you renew vs. look for a new product? What do you like most about the product? What do you wish the product did but doesn’t currently do? How often do you use the product? How many people on your team currently use the product at least daily/weekly, etc.
  • Benefits of talking to this segment: Understand switching difficulty or stickiness of your product, inform your product roadmap, identify likelihood to renew metrics or factors, opportunity to create case studies or testimonials product positioning insights.
  • Difficulty level: Medium
  • Insights quality level: High
  • Insights channels: 1:1 customer interviews are ideal. Customer surveys are second-best

#4 Churned/Canceled Customers

These are customers who left your product, canceled their subscription or contract and no longer pay you.

There are multitude of reasons why customers leave. Sometimes it’s economic, sometimes there are layoffs involved, sometimes it’s dissatisfaction with your product but understanding why customers cancel and what you can do to prevent profitable customers from leaving can help create better retention programs and efforts.

  • What to ask this segment: Why did you leave? What could have kept you around? What did you like about the product? what did you not like about the product? Would you be willing to become a customer again if XYZ changed?
  • Benefits of talking to this segment: Understand the reasons for leaving, insights into whether churn can be reduced, product positioning insights, validates targeting and Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
  • Difficulty level: High
  • Insights quality level: Medium
  • Insights channels: customer success outreach, 1:1 interviews, customer survey. Incentives for interviews could be helpful to increase response rates. These customers are either frustrated with your product or the larger ecosystem and getting their attention may be tough.

#5 Inactive Customers

We recommend that you not interview inactive customers. These customers should be handed off to your customer success team.

Your customer success team should be monitoring customers who aren’t actively using your products or solutions and proactively reaching out to them to offer additional training or soliciting feedback in order to prevent churned customers.

Gartner reports that companies are only using 33% of their martech capabilities in 2023, this is a huge opportunity for companies to engage their inactive or at-risk customers and re-engage them with additional education or assistance to help prevent churn.

Need help identifying your most profitable customers so you can convert more of them?

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About the author

Sunny Hunt is the CEO/Founder of Hunt Interaction.

Sunny is not your average marketer. She combined 20+ years of digital marketing experience, and her position as a natural-born outsider to create Hunt Interaction, a high performing conversion rate optimization consultancy. Using a customer-centric focus, Sunny develops smart, achievable strategies and tactics that help her clients convert more website traffic and turn new customers into raving fans.

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