In times of crisis and uncertainty, flexibility is key for any business. It’s important to be prepared for the unexpected and be able to pivot at a moment’s notice—steering your business in the right direction despite the projections you have already made and the plans you put in place.

Having said that, pivoting your business should, at the very least, adhere to some simple guidelines. This is where a well planned go-to-market strategy (GTM) is vital because this can mean the difference between a successful product launch and a disorganized mess. A GTM strategy is important because it is what will help put your product in front of the right customers at the right time and through the appropriate channels.

Without data about your customers, however, it will be hard—if not impossible—to get the information required to craft a proper GTM strategy. Knowing what customers expect will help tailor the product and determine your target market. This, in turn, will help avoid common eCommerce pitfalls such as not optimizing for mobile, not streamlining the checkout experience, and neglecting product descriptions.

This article will show how consumer data can help make sound business decisions and why consumer behavior is one of the best indicators of good business performance.

Consumer Data Controls Customer Experience

You can help control the overall experience of customers by getting and leveraging the right data. In times of crisis, it is especially important to be aware of customer pain points and make the necessary adjustments. Social listening is a step in the right direction because this can give you insights about how consumers actually perceive your brand. Be careful, though, that you don’t transform this data into mere percentages and statistics.

The advantage of social listening is that it is not limited by assumptions; it does not presuppose anything. It will not give you a definite next step but will provide insight into how you can modify your methods to enhance the overall customer experience. There is value to be found in opinions from a non-representative sample such as members of online forums on niche topics and user groups from various fields and expertise.

Consumer Data Shapes Customer Perception

Customer perception refers to customers’ opinions of your brand or product, regardless of your marketing and branding efforts. It includes every direct and indirect interactions customers have had with your brand and how they generally feel about your customer service. By getting data on customer perception, you can discover pain points to address and positive experiences to enhance.

It’s also predicted that customer experience will place higher as a key brand differentiator than product and price. This is an indicator of how big a role customer perception plays in gaining a competitive edge in the market. While product features, usability, and price are still important deciding factors, they would hardly make a difference if customer perception of your brand does not align with your own. Consumer data can be leveraged so that you get information on customer preferences and behavior. In the UK, 44% of consumers don’t continue a purchase if their preferred mode of payment isn’t available. This shows how consumer behavior can easily change if companies don’t focus enough on the customer experience.

In today’s always-online world, consumers want instant information in the palm of their hands. Before making any purchase, they now have the resources to compare products, check pricing, and read online reviews from their computer or mobile device. In fact, 82% of consumers consult their phones even as they are standing in a store deciding what to buy. This highlights the importance of online product reviews because they provide user-generated content from actual customers or users of the product that shed light on the current customer sentiment.

A comprehensive Revuze report on home appliance market trends shows how customer sentiment can provide insights not only on your product but also on your competitors, which are the leading brands and why, what consumers think about a certain product category, and how the data can affect future market trends. Consumer reviews also add credibility to brands, allowing even newcomers to compete with big names in the industry. It’s hard to compete with 5-star reviews, regardless of how big of a name you are in the industry. In much the same way as word-of-mouth advertising is effective, consumer reviews give actual users or fans of the product a voice, which most consumers will listen to.

From Consumer Data to Business Insights

At this point, you might already have a multitude of data sources and some tools to process them; what’s left now is to crunch those numbers and use the results as a launching pad for your next big marketing campaign or GTM strategy. The whole point of collecting and analyzing consumer data is to get a deeper understanding of your customers, so learn to look beyond the numbers and see how consumers see your brand. Now that is an excellent starting point for a marketing strategy—no matter what business you’re in.

Read more: Use Consumer Data in Every Phase of the Purchase Process