If you’re not doing market research before implementing a content marketing strategy, you’re doing it wrong. Why?

Because market research is the process of gathering information about consumers’ needs and preferences, it is an absolutely vital part of creating a consistent and cohesive content marketing plan.

Market research consists of finding out the status of an industry: trends, consumer preferences, and common industry pain points. Pain points that can be easy serviced by your client’s brand. Market research will help identify these industry issues and find ways for your brand to meet client and customer demand in a useful way.  

The data you collect will also help you better target customers and understand what competitors are offering, so you can stay one, two, or three steps ahead. Here are a few ways to make market research a continuous and ongoing process within your organization:

Basically, read. Read a lot. Industry analysts and research organizations such as Gartner are great for learning about trends and statistics. Trade publications as well. For example, with our industry – content marketing – and advertising in general, Ad Age, Adweek, and The Drum are invaluable resources for staying up-to-date on the latest news and trends.   

Social media and review sites are great ways to keep your finger on the pulse of a community. See what customers and visitors are saying about companies on Clutch, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and similar sites, take note of their pain points and figure out how you can do better. Meanwhile, the type of content and social media posts companies are putting out there on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter can clue in as to how they’re engaging audiences. For example, maybe there’s a type of content that does exceptionally well on Twitter. And there is! It’s video, it’s always video, because 82 percent of users watch video on Twitter.  

Set up some Google Alerts to see what your competitors are up to. Every time a competitor is mentioned in the news, or in a product release, or something that Google indexes, you’ll get an email and notification the moment it happens. You can set up Alerts for your company, too, to gauge whether your brand is part of the conversation and if the sentiment of that conversation is positive or negative.

Conduct surveys. You have an email newsletter, right? You should because 269 billion emails were sent by businesses last year, and that number is going to increase to nearly 400 billion by 2021. So, every four or six months, send out a survey to your customers. Ask them about their preferences, what they think about the features of a service, or why they may prefer a certain competitor. Otherwise, simply speak to clients. If you lose one, ask them why they’re leaving. They may be candid enough to offer you some insight as to why they chose a competitor. In-depth interviews with knowledgeable market experts can also glean a lot of information about an industry (and provide some good data for content, too).

Pay attention to technology. Even if your field has little to do with technology on the surface level, it likely leverages tech such as artificial intelligence or—hello!—the Internet in some way. After all, you want your customers to find you on Facebook and Google, right? Make sure you’re aware of any algorithm changes or other major shifts. Because there are a lot. For example, Google switched to a mobile-first index earlier in the year, which means you must have a spruced-up, mobile-responsive website ready or risk losing potential hits. The same goes for blockchain or virtual reality. Will they be beneficial to your business or are they just cool new buzzwords? Do the research and find out.

What is market research? It’s the investigative part of content marketing that will provide you with all the data you need to make informed decisions about your strategy. Not sure what to do? Let us help. For market research and content marketing needs, contact us.   

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