By 2017 it’s expected that advertising spend on Digital will overtake TV. (Source: eMarketer Inc.) This represents a momentous shift in marketers fundamental approach to reaching their target audiences.
At the heart of most any thriving digital marketing strategy these days is a website that tells your brand story, engages your audiences and enables you to achieve measurable goals. The expectations of today’s user to easily navigate their experience with your brand and interact with you on their terms increases by the day. While this offers you incredible benefits as a marketer, it drastically changes how you must approach a website redesign.
Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” If good old’ Lincoln were a marketer in the Digital Age, you can bet he’d invest the time to gather significant insights before commissioning a design or digital experience.
You likely have access to insights both inside and outside of your organization that are wise to pay attention to regarding your:
- Brand Messaging Strategy
- Keyword Strategy
- Functionality Requirement Strategy
Let’s discuss where you can begin to aggregate these insights.
1. Review Existing Information
Most companies have much more accessible data than they put to good use. It will take effort, but collaborating with a range of internal departments will likely improve your marketing team’s perspective.
- Analytics from your current website - What contents convert well, what keyword phrases is your site optimized for, where is your traffic coming from (geographic, source, device, etc) and what campaigns have been successful (dig in to find out why).
- Records of customer service inquiries - Note top requests, questions and challenges.
- Feedback from your sales team - Don’t forget any team members on the front lines of customer interactions!
- Social media posts - Note patterns in affirmations, questions and complaints.
- Previous customer service surveys - Have you received feedback concerning value propositions you aren’t currently promoting.
2. Survey Existing Customers
There are many ways to gather insights from existing customers. A mix of several of the following tactics might be necessary to create a well-rounded perspective of important audience segments.
- Polls - This can be as simple as a single question with a multiple choice answer set, delivered to users with specific behavioral criteria.
- Surveys - You can facilitate surveys in several ways, such as a call-to-action on a web page, send by email, create feedback campaign on social media or deliver a prompt based on behavior on your site.
- Feedback Boxes - When testing a specific piece of existing content or functionality feature, you may allow a user to submit real time feedback, similar to the example below:
- Interviews - After creating a thoughtful script, this could be done by phone or in person.
- Focus Groups - Focus groups are typically a demographically diverse group of people physically gathered to participate in a guided discussion.
- Card Sorting - Card sorting exercises are typically implemented with a digital application to test assumptions on information architecture.
- Online Communities - Creating a forum or community on your website or on a social network can generate excellent feedback. This method is easy to implement, but requires continuous monitoring and a full-time moderator.
Each method has pros and cons, so establishing clear goals is crucial determining the necessary tools, resources, timeline, budget.
Keep in mind that it may be necessary to offer an incentive (such as free shipping, discounts on future purchases, free samples, gift cards, contests, etc) but you risk customers seeing this as a “bribe” to encourage positive feedback. You can negate this risk by keeping the tone of the e-mail or survey as a genuine effort to improve customer service.
Depending on your product or service, your questions to target audiences will obviously vary, but here are some types of questions to consider asking current customers/clients:
- Why do you prefer our brand to your other options?
- If you didn’t buy from us, what alternative would you be likely to choose?
- What, if any, elements have made you question your choosing our brand?
- How did you first hear about our brand?
- What information do you visit our website for?
- What information for features do drive you back to our website, or would likely drive you back to our website if we had it
- Do you go to any of our competitor sites to get information or features that we could offer
- Please rank the following site features for their ease of use:
- Contact Forms
- Bill Payment
- Account Login/Dashboard
- Calculator Tools
- Live Chat
- Product/Service Search
3. Address Potential Audiences and Montior Competitors
Smart marketers take “smart risks” by using digital to test the market and find new ways to engage with consumers.
- A/B Test Messaging Strategies - Using PPC advertising to drive qualified traffic, you can test brand messaging strategies using landing pages to evaluate the impact before committing to a certain direction.
- 3rd Party Industry Research - By combining demographic profiling and measurement of online advertising, companies like Nielsen can, assist brand marketers to target and measure their online audience, drive digital strategies, measure perception around their brands and build brand advocacy programs.
- Social Listening - Examples of tools include Trackur, which tracks conversations about a brand on all platforms. Yext lets you manage local listings, including monitoring reviews and ratings. Another good tool is Google Alerts, which not only lets you monitor reviews, but also provides information on feedback about competitors.
Depending on where you are starting, the research process can be daunting, and requires leadership buy in. Having an agency to support this effort can be useful to:
- Take politics, intrinsic bias, out of the process
- Offer objective perspective, let data speak for itself
- Utilize expertise in data analysis, and present data in a way that tells a story
As marketers, our job is to ensure that our brand — what we stand for and deliver on — is relevant, credible and valuable to customers. It costs time and money to create effective and memorable digital experience, so you’ll make the most of that investment with the appropriate survey and research efforts.
Cheers to your success!