Ask a successful entrepreneur the key to their success and they’ll probably tell you about the importance of having a unique idea, being able to execute a strategy and manage a large team.

While these are all important aspects of business success, they all revolve around a far larger, more important element of success in business, and particularly in digital marketing: understanding your prospects.

Understanding your customers (or, in this case, your potential customers) lets you craft your marketing message to hone in on their needs, solve their problems and provide an answer to their questions.

In this guide, we’ll share five tactics that you can use to increase your understanding of the problems your prospects face, the questions they need answered and the way you can position your business to better serve them.

Poll your existing customers

Online SurveyOne of the best ways to learn more about your potential customers is by polling or surveying your existing ones. Why? Because since your business targets the same people as it already works with, their needs are very likely to overlap.

Send out a survey to your existing customer list and ask for their feedback on what your business is doing right, what you’re doing wrong and what they would like to see in the future. With the right questions, you’ll learn a lot from your customers.

Put yourself in their shoes

One of the best ways to understand the shortcomings of your product is by putting yourself in your customers shoes – literally. Purchase your competitor’s product or service and see what they do better – and what they do worse – than you.

By studying the marketplace you operate in from the perspective of a customer, you will gain a deeper understanding of what your prospects respond to. This will allow you to tailor your product, service and marketing to better align with their needs.

Use PPC ads to collect data

PPC advertising platforms like Google AdWords are wonderful tools for promoting your business. They’re also fantastic tools for collecting data on what your audience responds to.

From product names to price points, use PPC ads to assess the level of interest your audience has in certain variables. By monitoring your clickthrough rate, you’ll easily see which of your ideas has the most commercial potential within your market.

Make an educated guess

Not all business decisions need to be data driven. Many of the most successful ideas in business have been the result of a hunch or guess. If you understand your market very well, sometimes your intuition is the best source of insight on a prospect.

Study your target market in detail and try to familiarize yourself with the needs of your prospects. With the right level of information at your disposal, a guess is often a better source of information than an in-depth, data-driven study.

Pay attention to trends

Trends are more than just wonderful marketing tools; they’re also incredibly useful for research and product development. By looking at the trends that are occurring in your industry, you can better understand the needs of your prospects.

Pay attention to what’s popular in your industry – and in complementary industries – and think about how you could position your business to take advantage of it. This is a great strategy for finding holes in the market and positioning your brand.