As a busy marketer, you may think you don’t have time to do market research. However, if you don’t know your target market as well as you should, you could fail to attract new clients and retain existing ones.
You may have already drafted a customer persona. For example, they’re a 40-year-old digital marketing manager working in the healthcare sector with a team of 4 to 10 people. But is that enough?
If you want to create content that truly resonates with your target audience and builds your business, you need to go deeper. Right from the start, you need to know what motivates your customers, which sites they like to visit online, and more.
User Research is the First Step Toward Business Growth
If you don’t do the right research, you’re hurting your ability to grow and scale your business. Companies that regularly research their clients every few months have been shown to grow more than 10 times faster than firms that don’t.
The following research tips will help you understand your customers on a deeper level, meaning you can create more engaging content, publish it to the right channels, and build the value of your brand.
1. Conduct a User Feedback Survey Online
Online surveys are a great way to gain valuable insights from your audience. There are various free tools available, including Survey Monkey, Typeform, and Google Forms. You can distribute the surveys on your website, via email, or across social media.
What questions should you ask? Here are some good examples:
- How did you discover us? Find out which channels are most effective for lead generation.
- If our services were unavailable, what would be your alternative? Discover your closest competitors.
- What’s the best thing about what we offer? Discover the main benefits of your product or service.
- Have you recommended us to anyone else, and how? Discover if people are referring you to others, and how people describe your services.
- Is there any type of person you think would benefit from our service? Discover gaps in the market.
- How could we improve our offer? Discover where your product or service is falling short.
Look for common trends in the answers you get. You can use this information to learn what people think about your company, inform future content topics, and shape your keyword strategy.
2. Interview Customers
Talk to current clients whenever you can. You’ll learn about their decision-making process, common interests, and the challenges they face. This information can be also used for future case studies.
When possible, interview prospects that don’t even use your services yet. They’re harder to reach, but they’ll give you a more accurate picture of your position in the market.
3. Look at Your Website Visitors
You can gain valuable insights from users of your website. Google Analytics is one of the best free analytics tools, but there are many others worth considering. Clicky, Kissmetrics, Woopra, Hotjar, and Chartbeat all offer real-time website analytics to help you discover which content resonates with your visitors.
Related Reading: 9 Great Content Analytics Tools (Plus 5 Lesser-Known Alternatives)
4. Email Customers
By asking existing customers directly via email, you can learn about key challenges they face and note down common keywords they use. Try to discover what your customers need and why they need it. This helps you develop more engaging, evergreen content and will make future headlines more powerful.
It’s always helpful to listen to what people are already talking about in your industry. Social listening tools like Mention, BuzzSumo, Sprout Social, and Simply Measured will help you monitor conversations across social media platforms.
Professional social networks such as LinkedIn are also useful for understanding the daily challenges your prospects have. They also provide a platform for you to ask questions and gather more data about potential customers.
6. Use Your Competitors
There’s already a wealth of information online about your potential prospects. Check out some of your competitors’ websites for access to case studies they’ve published. You’ll probably find out why some people have chosen your competitor over you in the past.
The answers you get from thorough research can shape the direction of your content strategy. You can use this information to:
- Build more accurate customer personas.
- Focus on the right marketing channels.
- Anticipate clients’ needs.
- Attract former clients to your business.
- Optimize existing content to better suit your target market.
- Develop new products or services that prospects have asked for.
- Create new content based on your research.
Conducting research has many benefits, but the more data you can collect on your existing and potential clients, the better. You’ll get a better picture of your place in the market and be able to convince more potential customers that your business is the answer to their problems.