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How to uncover revenue-boosting
insights with a little conversation
Who wrote this thing?
Written by Dustin Walker at Good Funnel — a
conversion-focused agency that specializes in
messaging, copywriting and customer research.
you might be wondering...
Why conduct live interviews when
surveys are much,
Interviewing is the
best way to uncover
insights about your
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THIS INCLUDES THINGS LIKE:
How customers really
use your (or your
client’s) product or
Prospects’ barriers to
making a purchase
The type of content
prospects will find
The deeper emotions
Insight you just can’t get from
surveys, analytics data and heat
Febreze got insight from a single interview that
revealed it was marketing their product all-wrong.
It launched new ads and sales
doubled within two months.
When Moz hired Conversion Rate
Experts to optimize their homepage,
doing live interviews was key to
getting a 52% lift in sales.
Groove used customer interviews to re-write their copy,
which helped boost conversions on the website
from 2.3% to 4.3%.
But some marketers avoid doing them
because of this mindset...""
are powerful stuff.
“My customers would
never do an interview
with me. They’re just
too darn busy.”
Science shows that
people love to talk
about themselves —
even as much as
they love money.
So go ahead and
To set up the interview, send out an email
that simply says you’re interested in
interviewing them to find out about their
experience with the product or service and
how they felt about it.
You’ll be surprised by how many
customers agree to chat.
(But don’t go overboard. Often, just 5 or 6
interviews is all you need.)
NEXT UP: The Questions
Don’t stick to a script. The last thing you want is
to come across as a robotic telemarketer. Instead,
play it cool and casual by doing what’s called an in-
depth unstructured interview.
That means you should have a list of
questions handy, but they should
always be changing based on the
responses you get from the customer.
Your No.1 job as an interviewer is to listen
and occasionally ask ‘probing’ questions to
get more insight or to gently steer the
conversation where you need it to go.
Research shows that creating rapport
with your interviewee is
key to getting them to be comfortable
enough with you to share their feelings.
Here’s how to do it...
Make sure they know exactly
what’s going to happen and why.
Tell them how useful their insight will be
and emphasize that everything they say
is 100% anonymous.
Start with easy,
Doing this eases the customer into the interview.
Afterwards, you can then watch for opportunities
to build rapport. Here’s an example...
So you live in Jackson. You’re not too far from
It’s about a two-hour drive. So not bad.
Easy enough for a weekend trip
Ah, that’s handy. I’ve always wanted to
visit. You get out there much?
AND SO ON….
Show genuine interest in
what they have to say.
Make them feel like they are an expert
and you are privileged to speak with them
— which is really the truth.
Be sure to use their name as much
as possible — this helps to boost
their ego and self-esteem, which will
make them feel more confident
opening up to you.
Match and Mirror how they speak.
Research shows that when you mimic the
mannerisms of the person you’re
speaking to, there’s a greater chance of
them liking you and feeling more
comfortable around you.
But you have to do this in a very subtle
way during an interview – match their
energy level, the volume of their voice
or the pace of their speech. Don’t be a
Focus on ‘reflective
listening’ , not questioning
We’ve been socially conditioned to
think of “listening” as a passive act with
little or no effort required by the
listener. That kind of mindset won’t
help you in customer interviews.
A good reflective listener will occasionally
paraphrase what the customer says during
the interview, which shows they are making
efforts to understand what the person is
But be careful not to introduce your own
ideas when doing this.
So if I understand you correctly, you had a
hard time choosing what to buy because
Product X and Product Y seemed to have the
same exact features.
Yeah, that’s right.
Probing is key for getting at the deeper
meaning behind what the person says.
Often when you ask about someone’s
emotions, they’ll provide a short, not-
so-useful answer like:
‘I felt frustrated.’
Gentle probing helps you figure
out what “frustrated” really
means to that specific person in
that specific context.
Try asking questions like:
What makes you feel that way?
You mentioned that you felt frustrated. Can you help
me understand that better?
Could you tell me more about your thinking on that?
What were you feeling when that happened?
There are also more subtle ways
to probe for deeper insights.
Ask for more specifics:
If something the customer says stands out as
unusually insightful, try to get a more specific
description from them about the event.
This helps ensure you’re really understanding
the customer’s message.
I thought the app was really easy to use.
What specifically made it easy to
Just how the menus were always
where I expected them to be. I hate
wasting time trying to find what I
Embrace awkward silence:
naturally inclined to fill long, awkward moments
of silence with conversation. So they’ll start
talking to relieve those awkward feelings.
A well-timed stretch of silence can
result in the interviewee feeling
compelled to yak on. And often,
they’ll share some very emotional,
off-the-cuff insight with you.
Use the ‘Echo Probe’
Simply repeat the last thing that the person said
and encourage them to continue. They’ll likely
keep providing more details about the topic.
Here’s an example...
I fired up the program, but it just crashed
on me. I kept messing with it until finally
calling my buddy Jimmy over to help me
Ok, so you called Jimmy
over to help
Cue the awkward
But what if your
interview is bombing?
You’re just not getting the kind
of ultra-deep insights you want.
It’s likely because you haven’t
established rapport with the
Call it quits, say thanks for your time and start
talking about something else. Then circle back
around and say...
“Hey, I just thought of something else
I wanted to ask you”
And then restate an old question in a different
The customer will be more at ease
and (hopefully) more willing to
chat about the way they feel.
Interviews aren’t a substitute for
surveys, user testing or other more
scalable forms of qualitative research.
But the type of deep insights you get
from talking to your customers often
can’t be found anywhere else.
And that makes interviews
something that no research tool
can ever replace.
Then you’ll love what we have for you at the
Good Funnel blog. In-depth content on
customer research, copywriting & persuasion
are just for starters.
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