As a company, knowing what your customers are saying about you and how they feel about your products, services and overall brand is integral to the long-term success or failure of your business. Traditionally, to get a feel for this information, business owners have relied heavily on processes like customer surveys and focus groups. 

While there are certainly times when customer surveys and focus groups are necessary, these both have a variety of pain points. Mainly, they're extremely time consuming, they don't always result in a large number of results (due to low response rates), and much of the information isn't always accurate -- given surveys rely on feelings and nuance as opposed to hard data.

Luckily, thanks to technology, there are tools available on the market today to help entrepreneurs better understand what their customers truly think about their products with data instead of subjective responses.

Here are 5 of them.

1. Heat Maps

Viewing the heat maps of your company website will provide you with valuable data on what your web visitors are engaging the most with. Defined, a heat map is simply a layout of activity on a web page, such as where a visitor hovers their mouse on most, where they're clicking, and how far down the page they're scrolling.

This will lift the veil on what parts of your site customers find interesting, convincing and compelling, and which parts are causing them to drop off. While there are loads of heat mapping tools out there, but my personal favorites are Hot Jar and Crazy Egg.

2. Google Analytics

There could be a thousand articles written on all the information and data Google Analytics provides to business owners as it relates to their customers. For the sake of this article though, I believe the most relevant details Google Analytics can provide to entrepreneurs is demographic data, such as where most of a company's customers are from what their interests are, as well the bounce rate on your web pages.

Defined, bounce rate is a measurement of the percentage of visitors to a website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. Bounce rate is a great way to measure how effective and engaging your website is overall, allowing you to zero in and make site changes accordingly without needing to host an endless amount of focus groups to get to the same conclusion.

3. Hootsuite Insights

The type of social media content that's resonating with your audience most is a tell-tale sign of their interests, what they like about your company, the questions they're dying to have answered and much more. 

Hootsuite Insights is a fantastic tool when it comes to identifying and deeply understanding what style of content your customers are interacting with. On top of that, users can also use the app to scan through thousands of brand mentions across social media and filter them by keywords used, allowing you to paint an accurate picture of the content your audience likes most.

4. Brandwatch

In order to truly understand what your customers think about your company, you need to know what you're saying when you aren't in the room. Lucky for entrepreneurs and marketers today, the best eavesdropping tool in history now exists: social media.

This is exactly why sentiment analysis apps like Brandwatch can help give you an inside look at what people are really saying about your brand online, whether it's negative, positive or something in between. By scanning through the words and phrases in the social posts that use your brand name, Brandwatch is able to determine the tone of the posts, and label them accordingly.

5. Twitter Advanced Search

If you don't feel like jumping through the hoops of more complex tools, using Twitter's free feature, Advanced Search, will allow you to eavesdrop on people Tweeting about your company. One of the coolest parts about Advanced Search is you can filter the Tweets by location, language, exact phrasing and much more, giving you the flexibility to get as granular or basic in your research as you want.

Twitter is by its very nature a fleeting, fast-paced platform where people let their thoughts and musings run wild. This makes it a particularly good venue to see how your customers truly feel about your brand without your team needing to reach out to them for a survey.

When it comes to getting a clear understanding of what your customers really want, surveys and focus groups can be useful in some cases, but they're also very time consuming and not always accurate. By giving the tools laid out in this article a try, you'll set your business up for long-term success in this data-driven age we live in today. Best of luck.