It doesn't matter whether you are a beginner in the world of business or have many years of experience, one thing is certain: quality decisions require quality insights.
Research is a powerful tool that gets you to them, and in turn helps you reach your business objectives, such as boosting your website traffic, establishing your brand's credibility or even entering new markets.
Sounds like a lot of work? Don't worry.
In this article we’ll cover the 3 directions your research can take, depending on your goals:
1. Brand research
2. Market research
3. Customer Research
Let’s dive in!
It's important to conduct research around your brand on an ongoing basis to make sure you’re fully meeting the needs of your target audience and users, as well as staying ahead of your competition.
Situations where it’s particularly important:
- when developing a new product or service - Does it align with our brand? Will it disappoint/negatively impact the perception our current users have of us?
- when experiencing a decline in sales or customer satisfaction - Did our reputation take a hit? Have we overlooked any key trends in the market?
- when entering a new market or expanding into a new region - Any differences in communications styles we should be aware of? Any new communication channels to consider?
- When you are rebranding or redesigning your website or marketing materials - Are we enhancing or replacing the message that we’ve been sending so far?
Interviews and Focus groups
Let me tell you something very crucial: nobody understands a brand better than the people who work for it.
That's right, I'm talking about your employees! So why not go out there and chat with them?
You could do it one-on-one, or even better, bring them together for a fun and interactive discussion or workshop.
The key is to uncover all the unique and special things that make your brand stand out and deliver on its promises. This will set it apart from the competition.
With this invaluable knowledge, you could create amazing content and tell captivating stories. You could also use it to craft innovative experiences and solutions that leverage your talented team's expertise and technology.
A listening tool can reveal more unfiltered insights into brand perception than brand tracking studies.
By identifying relevant mentions, you can gain valuable feedback on any barriers or issues. Product review sites are also helpful. However, be aware that social media may capture extreme views.
By using these tools effectively, you can gain a deeper understanding of your brand and improve your content marketing strategy.
There are many times in a company’s life cycle when the market plays a crucial role. Some happen every day, while some are related to our phase of development:
- Launching a new product or service - Who are the key players in the market? What is our USP compared to theirs?
- Developing a marketing strategy - What communication channels are the most prevalent in our industry? What channels are underserved and could be our options for growth?
- Evaluating your competition - What are our strong points? What are areas where we can work more on?
- Considering a new business venture - Are there risks to our core products, when launching a new product or service? How big of a market are we opening up for ourselves?
In general, market research is important whenever you need to make informed decisions about your business strategy, product development, marketing, or expansion. It helps you understand your customers, competitors, and market trends and can provide valuable insights to guide your business decisions.
To conduct market and category research, you can rely on a range of resources, such as case studies, industry reports, articles, and expert opinions.
These resources are available from industry databases, leading consultancies, and category authorities. It's also helpful to tap into professional groups and membership organizations to network and gain valuable insights from others.
By taking this multi-pronged approach, you can gather diverse perspectives and stay informed about the latest trends and developments in your field.
Common places where you can find interesting and verified insights include:
- Google Scholar
- Content Marketing Institute
- HubSpot Academy
- Content Marketing Association
- IAB Australia
Customer research is done to better understand customers' needs, preferences, and behaviors. There are several ways customer research can help get you closer to your goals:
- Improving customer satisfaction - What do our customers want and need? What are the key objectives they want to achieve?
- Developing customer personas - What are the demographics, psychographics, behaviors, and needs of our target audience?
- Identifying areas for improvement - Where are we coming up short in the eyes of our clients and users? What can we do to change that?
- Staying ahead of the competition - Are there changing users' needs? What technological advances can influence our product or service and are we at the forefront?
The anonymity and ease of access that online surveys provide make them the ideal environment for asking your audience what they really think about your product, or service or about some of the issues they’re currently facing.
An online survey can reveal customers’ true opinions, as well as enable them to share ideas with you in a safe and comfortable environment. The upside is that high costs are rarely associated with this kind of research, as well as the fact that they can often be quantified.
On the other hand, they can sometimes be limited to participants as well as guide them to desired answers. This can be overcome by properly preparing the questionnaire and testing it on a small sample first, before releasing it to a brother audience.
Keyword and topic research
Keyword and topic research is both an art and a science. While it's incredibly valuable for content production and marketing in general, it can also let us in on current trends in our niche that are just beginning to emerge.
There are some awesome tools out there – like SEMrush and Buzzsumo – that can help you uncover what people are searching for and engaging with. By integrating these tools with Google Analytics and Search Console, you'll get a 360-degree view of what's peeking people's interest.
As a content marketer, you can also use Google Trends to gain insight into the search volume and trends of specific keywords, enabling you to perform comparative keyword research and identify related topics and demographics.
Proper research gives us direction and guidance when building our company. Overall, research is a crucial tool for companies to gain a competitive edge, understand their customers, and make informed decisions that lead to business growth and success.
Why would we not want it in our toolbox?