3 Free Tools to Help You Get Inside the Head of Your Customer

When was the last time you profiled your customer? I’m not talking basic customer demographic information, but rather really taking the time to understand who they are, what their needs are, where their interests lie, who they interact with, etc.

As we all know, the web can be a very fragmented place. Don’t get me wrong, it is steadily becoming more interconnected, but we still have a ways to go before all of the bits and pieces align. In the meantime, there are several services that have popped up in the past couple of years aiming to connect the dots, and essentially profile people based on web content they have either produced or are mentioned in.

What does this mean for Businesses?

Well, it’s now easier than ever to grasp a sense of who your customer is. After all, if I can see your tweets, Facebook profile, LinkedIn page, Flickr photos, blog, comments, and usage of other social platforms, then I can better tailor my product or service to fit your needs.

On that note, here are 3 great services you can try to help you dive in and better understand the needs, thoughts, interests, friends, and lifestyle of your customer.


Perhaps you are like me and have a few emails lingering around your inbox from conversations that you have had with customers in the past. If so, I would definitely suggest you check out Gist. While it is more of a contacts manager, this will really help you step into the world of your customer and mash-up a detailed profile of their web identity.

If someone has emailed you, friended your business on Facebook, and is an avid Twitter follower, then Gist will build you a profile for that person. There is then a high change that this is your person of interest for a potential sale.


Flowtown is a very similar service to Gist, but operates with a slightly more effective interface.

Aggregating information from across the web, it builds detailed profiles that allow for you to connect with your customers through the social media network of their preference. One of the nice distinctive features is it also reveals to you a customer’s Klout score, so you have a better idea of who your true influencers are. Unfortunately, it is only free for the first 50 imported contacts, so you can’t grow too dependent on it unless you are willing to cough up the money to pay for a regular account.


While Spokeo may be limited in the ability to search and track numerous profiles, if you have a few lead customers you are looking to learn more about, this can be the one-stop shop to gain a sense of who they are. These guys really do a solid job at explaining themselves as a search engine that is specialized in organizing people-related information from a large variety of public sources.

After sifting through these options, what tools do you use to understand your customers better? Have you found any that are particularly effective or ineffective? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

45 Responses to “3 Free Tools to Help You Get Inside the Head of Your Customer”

  1. What I like about EpicLaunch is it comes with some sites that I never heard of before.

    Anyway, I think Flowtown is best of all three you have mentioned in this post. We missed the writer’s preference on this. πŸ˜‰

    • Hi Sajib,

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. I guess I was a bit too objective in my reporting of the options. Well, at least kind of. My personal preference is listed in the order that you see each tool mentioned. I think Gist can give you the best, most robust information overall, especially with those customers that are following you in more than one capacity (for example, a customer that has emailed you, follows your Tweets on Twitter, and has liked your Facebook page). To me, Gist really does a good job at rank-ordering those customers that have emailed you by importance.

      Thanks again,


  2. Thanks for sharing those cool sites! It is true that we should get to know our customers, because business is about relationships and connections. πŸ˜‰

  3. Hey David! Thanks for letting us know about these resources. Researching your target market is key to entrepreneurial success but no one ever tells us because it’s not as cool as “making money”. I’ll be sure to check them out.

    • Definitely, Nick. It is a step that people too often skip or fail to truly explore with enough depth and detail. The first and primary step of any successful business is to really jump in and get to know your customer and their pain.

      Thanks for your input,


  4. I do not believe I have ever taken the time to really profile my customers. I took them for what they said they were. I can see where you are going with this. I can not wait to try a couple of these. This may be just what I have been looking for. On the other hand, I do not like what google is doing right now, I wonder what my customers would want? I guess, I will have to ask them.

    • These are definitely a few good tools, but as you implied with your own words, taking the time to connect with them first on a personal level is a good base point to start off with. Afterwards, utilizing these other tools will then help contribute to a more dynamic understanding of how to tailor your marketing mix to your customer.

      Best of luck with the profiling effort, Betty!


  5. Hi Ben,

    This post has definitely made me stop and think. I haven’t taken the time to profile my customers but it’s something I should be doing.

    These are 3 very interesting resources. Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

    Talk soon.


    • Hey Michael,

      David actually wrote this post since this is now a multi-author blog. Anyways great to see you here, hope to see you here more often, will be visiting your blog more :)

  6. Lol sorry David. I knew it was you who wrote this but for some reason I put Ben. :)

  7. Hey Ben,

    These are very cool sites. Spokeo gives you a lot of information. Almost too much. :) I’ve seen them mentioned on TV a while back. I love Gist on my Android. I use it a lot. Thanks for another great post, my friend.

    See ya on Skype! :)

    • Hey Kevin,

      Yes these are great tools, just to let you know David Guzman wrote this post :) See ya on Skype of course!

      • Oops! Sorry, David. Mind working too fast. An even better post now I know that Ben didn’t write it. πŸ˜› (jk) Great post, David!

        • No worries, Kevin. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. :)

          I’m not going to lie, Spokeo definitely does tend to aggregate a little too much information, but this can really help you profile individual customer demographic info.

          I was a bit spooked a while back when I realized that this was all readily available info. though!


  8. Thanks for the list. I am new to blogging so hadn’t heard about any of these. That is what I like about visiting other people’s blogs I am learning so much from people who know heaps more than me. Thanks again for sharing.
    Patricia Perth Australia

  9. Wow, thanks!
    This are 3 amazing ideas. I didn’t even see them on killerstartups!

  10. 3 great ways listed here. Thanks!

  11. Hey, David that’s nice search, great work and thanks for sharing :-)

  12. Hey David,
    Interesting post! I have never thought about profiling customers. These look like some very good tools you to help you organize information. I’ll keep them in mind and make sure I check them out. Thanks for the brief review with each one. :)

  13. Hi David,

    I have studied the demographics of my customers and subscribers but haven’t really got into their heads. That is something I want to do and now you’ve given me some great resources to do just that.

    Thanks for the useful and informative post!

    • Hi Robert,

      It is hard to really develop a firm understanding of your customer base. I think you will find that once you take the chance to do so on a more personal and individualized level, you will be able to sell and market much more effectively.

      Thanks for stopping by,


  14. Frankly I’m just learning of these sites for the first time. I’ll definitely check them out right now. Understanding your customers is easy way to knowing how to connect with them. I will definitely go for any tool that will help me do this.

    • Glad that you got this out of the article. While it was not explicitly stated, I couldn’t agree more. Taking the time to develop a more comprehensive understanding of your customers really helps establish your relevance to them. The people that master this art are the ones that truly dominate their market.

      After all, your customers are your livelihood. :)


  15. Oh wow, these are really fantastic because I just had a conversation the other day with the marketing department at work.

    I told them how they should do additional research by checking Facebook and other web properties to see if they can get information so it’s not simply cold calling.

    Not only can these tools help with gaining customers but will really give you additional perspective into their lifestyle – that’s powerful!

    • Fantastic to hear, Murlu. Companies are ALWAYS better off attempting to be relevant to their customer base.

      In a couple weeks I will be covering a very similar topic hear on Epic Launch, that details this process more in-depth. How you have a chance to stop by and read it.

      In the meantime, I would suggest that you sift through the social space and seek out those potential customers that you find that are already in the process of searching for a property (whether that be to buy, rent, lease, etc.). One nice, often overlooked tool is http://youropenbook.org/ to search through public Facebook status updates.

      Best of luck with your marketing efforts,


  16. Hi David,

    Great article, I really comment I have just started my blogging career, But one thing of sure I am going to employ all the above resources.

    • Awesome, Imran. Best of luck on your journey.

      While I am a bit biased, I would suggest you subscribe to Epic Launch if you haven’t already done so. They have really employed a great blogging model here that I fell many can learn from – including myself. : )


  17. Hi David,

    Thanks for sharing the tools.

    I don’t use them but their effectiveness is readily evident. Any product which enables you to get inside the head of your customer is invaluable.

    Ryan Biddulph

    • Right on, Ryan!

      I would suggest taking the plunge, though. Gist is a very effective tool that is extremely easy to start off with. All it takes is setting up an account, signing in with your email addresses, and then you are already sailing with fairly detailed profiles. Definitely not a time killer at all.

      Best of luck,


  18. Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing Reply Sep. 13, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Have you ever used Act!

    Not free by a long shot, but an excellent program.

    • Hi Dennis,

      I actually have yet to test drive ACT, but would love to in the future. I was just looking up the specs for what it does and it seems pretty comprehensive. I’m definitely a fan of Salesforce (and several other CRM systems). : )

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting,


  19. Excellent resources David. We are a real estate company and our contacts seem to come to us in a variety of ways. Your resources seem to meet them where they are at in our pipeline.

  20. Sathish @ TechieMania Reply Sep. 14, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Wihtout knowing your customers you are not gonna sell anything to them. Thanks for writing it up in an article, David.

    • I completely agree, Sathish. Knowing them and tailoring a marketing mix to their needs is what gives you your competitive edge.

      Thanks for the supportive comment.


  21. I have never heard of these before. I like to learn everything about my customers but, I guess I have not been doing my job well enough. Maybe, this will help me out. I hope so.

    • Hi Karen,

      Thanks for stopping by and reading the post!

      Glad to hear that we scooped some resources that you have never heard of. I hope you will be able to pick one or two and take them out on a test drive to see if they help you improve marketing to your customers.

      Best of luck,



  1. Customer Service Related Articles Roundup β€” Self Employed Cafe - Sep. 24, 2010

    […] 3 Free Tools to Help You Get Inside the Head of Your Customer – When was the last time you profiled your customer? I’m not talking basic customer demographic information, but rather really taking the time to understand who they are, what their needs are, where their interests lie, who they interact with… [read the article] […]