When you walk into a bookstore, there are often signs hung from the ceiling that show you the organization of the store either by the type of books or the age demographic they’re appropriate for.
As you keep wandering the aisles you find even more indicators such as alphabetical organization, sub-genre specific shelves and even shelves dedicated to series within a type. Regardless of what you like to read, the bookstore’s layout enables you to find exactly what you want quickly—for the most part—choosing a book is hard sometimes.
Bookstores are organized this way because their content is designed with a specific audience in mind and let’s not mention if there is more than one target audience.
Authors don’t just write the first thing that comes to mind (usually), but they instead spend countless hours researching character elements, situational scenarios and common themes in order to target very specific readers. Approaching a marketing strategy for clients is exactly the same process—it requires research and preparation!
Research Equal Success
In 2013, Forbes released an article about how essential research is to make a business successful, and it’s a great read for why you should take the time to explore before starting a marketing plan.
Digital marketers and web designers don’t come equipped with knowledge specific to every existing B2B, B2C and E-Commerce industry. Research is imperative for a website to be created correctly and to attract the right customers. It is also necessary for building content, editing content and finding information.
Research done right lays the foundation for a successful marketing strategy to be implemented now and to grow and flourish over time. We research deeply and constantly to:
- Create websites designed to meet client goals and engage target audiences,
- Become industry experts who can draft relevant and knowledgeable content for clients’ consumers and potential customers,
- Know what goals to track to determine successes, failures and when and where adjustments should be made.
Below are the three main research stages we consider important. Stages one and two are temporary, but stage three is ongoing.
Stage 1: The Meet & Greet
Even before a client becomes your client, you should have at least preliminary research done. This will show the client you are knowledgeable, prepared and ready to help them achieve their goals. Research at this stage should include the following:
- Client’s offered products and services
- Client’s company history, company information and stats
- Client’s current website to grasp understanding of existing design, layout, content and SEO
- Client’s social media presence and advertising efforts (if any)
- Testimonials and case studies by client’s customers
Research at this point should help you walk into the first meeting with your potential new client with a solid understanding of what they do, what they have and what you think they need.
*Extra TIP: Come prepared to this meeting with a list of pros, cons and questions regarding the client’s current marketing and web elements, company practices, philosophy and products or services.
Stage 2: Working Together
After making the client yours, it’s important to dive in deeper into your research. You should already know what they have from your initial research, what they want from your first meeting. Now you are ready to research how to get there. Whether it’s simply a new website design, updating content or helping to launch an all-encompassing marketing plan, the following research needs to be done in order to move forward:
- Determine the industry (industries) the client works in and the appropriate ways to approach each
- Determine the target audience(s) the client wants to reach and also rank audience demographics in terms of the following order: easily reaching, sort of reaching, not reaching (but wanting to), not reaching and want to avoid.
- Research client’s competitors for best practices in regards to successful website design, creative flexibility, tone of voice, SEO and content strategy and organization
- Research optimal times and days for posting content or social media
- Analyze what platforms the client currently has or doesn’t have and why. Also look at the strengths, weakness and areas that are open for improvement.
Taking the time to research the above will enable a much more focused, successful marketing plan that will make the most of the client’s time and budget, not to mention your own.
Stage 3: Today, Tomorrow, Next Year
Research doesn’t stop once you enact your marketing plan either. It needs to be an ongoing effort to ensure that you are constantly aware of what’s important in your client’s industry, to their customers and any changes that might be forthcoming that could affect their SEO and content. You should also be tracking and researching competitors regularly to watch for design changes, new content efforts (video, infographics, etc.) and adjust your strategy accordingly with what works.
But don’t just take our word for it. There are even more reasons to employ research strategies in marketing efforts. Check out Five Reasons Why Market Research Matters (and Five Tips for Using It) for some quick tips and further insight!