Every marketer understands the importance of knowing your audience, and there are great marketing analytics tools that can give you in-depth, strategic insight into how your content marketing is performing on your brand’s digital channels. But in addition to your reporting technology, it’s just as important for marketers to back up their data-driven insights with real-life observations of people interacting with their content by speaking to them face to face. Finding a place for traditional market research tactics in your content marketing workflow can help you keep your audience intelligence strategy as specific as possible and allow you to uncover even more of the needs. issues that your customers face.
Here are some effective market research methods that will help your brand dig even further into the valuable information you are already collecting.
First tactic: get to know yourself through surveys
Surveys are a deceptively simple and often overlooked marketing audience research tool. Whether you discovered them in college science class or still grab one every now and then for an online coupon, you probably feel familiar with the format as a whole.
Although this is one of the oldest research methods, surveys can still be a big part of your content marketing strategy. From a marketing standpoint, surveys are often best deployed as a tool for testing your team’s assumptions, getting first impressions, or testing changes your other reports might indicate. Your content center may have been producing material on a specific vertical topic for years, but maybe you’ve never really tested your assumptions about why this industry attracts your readers. A poll can help confirm or deny your team’s understanding of what motivates your audience. This could lead to changes in direction or positioning that could make your established presence even more appealing.
The main struggle with surveys, however, is as old as the form itself: getting people to respond.
Left to their own devices, people often aren’t crazy about taking what might sound like a pop quiz. Incentive responses usually improve participation, but this can lead to biased or skewed results, so much so that eliminate bad survey results is a school of thought dedicated to market research and statistical circles. Mandatory surveys that prevent users from continuing their experience can get you 100% response, but clearly at the cost of disrupting experiences on the site.
Content can often help overcome this barrier. Large email posting lists offer a wide variety of random polls. Creative quizzes or interactive content formats can disguise surveys as content experiences. And a number of web plugins available provide creative, non-intrusive ways to ask site visitors for comments such as leader with games and pictures.
Whichever approach you take, consider a few best practices to make sure your survey provides useful information for your team:
Think about the exit in advance
Show your questions to the person who will analyze the results. Get their feedback on the impact of response formats on the process of extracting information from your data.
One of the most common mistakes made by marketing surveys is forgetting to introduce an element of randomization. Polling groups of people in a conference, for example, introduces segmentation that can skew the results. If possible, try to randomize your survey population.
Just because you’re hoping for a certain answer doesn’t mean you have to write your questions down to get someone there. try stick to impartial questioning principles when designing your queries.
Tactic 2: Become personal with interviews
You’ve sent out surveys, you understand your larger audience a little better, and now you feel more comfortable with your visitors. The problem now is specificity. You might have learned a lot of interesting things, but not about the users as individuals.
This is where the interviews come in. While the word might sound like a savvy reporter with a microphone, tape recorder, and two hundred page notepad, everyone has a bit of an interviewer in them. Whenever you ask a friend questions during a story, meet someone new at a party, or just run into a long-lost acquaintance at the grocery store, you’re engaging in a few questions. and answers. The one piece that is often what is missing from these interactions is recording and relaying the information later.
There are two main differences between daily chatting and interviews: Interviews often have a single purpose and a clear structure. Beyond that, being kind, attentive, and willing to follow the conversation she is leading will yield the same great results in an interview as in a conversation.
The information you glean from interviews can serve a number of purposes for your marketing team. At the most direct level, interviews are a great addition to many forms of content and can add a personal and authoritative touch. From a research perspective, interviews allow you to delve deeper into the topics, trends and questions you ask about your audience, while still giving your respondents the space to develop and guide the conversations themselves. in a way that structured surveys do not allow.
When conducting a research interview, keep these tips in mind:
Choose representative speakers
It is important that your speakers represent the perspective and demographics of your audience. The more you try to choose the right interviewee, the less work you have to do to find relevant insights from their responses.
While having a list of questions prepared in advance is always a good thing, don’t let your plan dictate your entire conversation. Instead, use your notes as a guide to get the other person talking about what they’re really thinking and follow their lead. A personalized chat guided by your interlocutor will often lead to the most authentic responses.
Save, save, save
The main risk with interviews is that it is a non-repeatable medium. Once you are done talking, there is no way to recreate the conversation if you forget to press the record button or take notes. A good combination is to make an audio recording of your conversation and write down the time stamp every time the other person says something interesting. This keeps you present in the conversation, but gives you plenty of notes to work on when you’re reviewing after the fact. For legal and respectful reasons, do not forget to ask the permission of your interlocutor before making a recording.
Image attribution: Johanna buguet
Tactic 3: Get inside your head with focus groups and usability testing
Our latest market research tactic combines two similar but distinct practices: focus groups and usability testing. Focus groups in a traditional market research project typically involve a single facilitator presenting a group of people with a new product, ad campaign, or other development to get their first impressions. Usability testing, on the other hand, typically involves a group of individual users trying out a product or site experience while also interacting with a facilitator who guides their journey. Either way, your brand is taking a vulnerable step to showcase work in progress and open a dialogue with your audience.
In digital content marketing, there are two key areas you need to understand: How do your visitors interact with your site, and what are their reactions or desires when they actually access a piece of content? Usability testing is the perfect tool for understanding the site experience, as it allows you to watch a viewer click, explore, and react to your creations. Focus groups can then fill in some gaps in your content strategy and editorial approach to make sure you’re meeting your audience’s expectations.
Creating a user test, choosing and organizing a group, and gleaning meaningful information from the mass of data and records you collect is obviously more work than an interview or survey. For a less laborious approach, let an annual or post-mortem review inspire the topic of your next project. The trends or issues your team unearths are a fertile basis for designing a focus group or user test, and your results can indicate how you are adjusting your coming year to the observations of your assessment.
Unlike interviews, focus groups and user tests both benefit from controlled experimental environments. This means that following bunny trails will quickly derail your tests and make separate user information difficult to compare. Define your test questions and actions up front and do everything you can to stick to them.
The ultimate goal of content marketing research tools
No matter what market research tactics you decide to employ, every brand’s goal is the same: to understand your audience. Forging a relationship is the goal at the heart of all the data collection, monitoring and analysis tools we have.
When choosing the right content marketing research tool for you, ask yourself which method you can fully support and which brings you closest to your audience. As you get into the habit of conducting research multiple times throughout the year, you will find that marketing audience research becomes less of a chore and more of an exciting chance to expand your brand experience across the board. – beyond your organized site or your designed material. As marketers, we should take every opportunity to have a conversation with the people we serve.
To learn more about Skyword360, the leading content marketing platform, can help you create great content experiences and gain strategic insights, request a demo.
Featured Image Attribution: Brooke Cagle