Traditional market research projects can take at least four weeks to complete. However, successful marketing teams are constantly gathering feedback and validating aspects of their go-to-market plans, ensuring that their messaging is received as intended. With the infinite possibilities of study ideas out there, we wanted to narrow that down. Here are a few of the top studies that we've seen successful marketing teams run to confirm the effectiveness of their content and to gain an advantage over the competition.
1. Brand perception study
The impression instilled by your brand is important. After all, that's what will (and sometimes won't) make a lasting impression on your target audience. These studies provide insights into the types of characteristics and attributes are associated with your brand. You can also measure the impact of your messaging by asking questions before and after your target audience has had the chance to interact with your brand. Some sample tasks and questions:
- In your own words, describe what [brand] offers.
- If [brand] were a person, how would you describe its personality?
- How [select one of the sub-bullet points below] is the [brand]?
- Unfavorable or favorable
- Ordinary or unique
- Forgettable or Memorable
2. Content study
The purpose of your marketing content is to communicate a message to your target audience. But how do you know if that message is understood? A content study will help you learn if your communications and imagery is being received as expected, from the tone of the content to the overall understandability. Test anything from your current content—marketing emails, advertising campaigns, website copy, and more—to prototypes to gather insights. Some sample tasks and questions:
- Which of these images project [brand]?
- How unattractive or attractive is [offer or product]?
- How unlikely or likely are you to [purchase or sign up for] [offer or product]?
- Describe [offer or product] in your own words.
3. Competitor study
Keep your competitors close by running regular studies to keep up to date with them. Learn from their successes and failures by running an assessment of them. Or, you can also find out how you compare by testing your content head-to-head. Some sample tasks and questions:
- Between [competitor brand] and [your brand], which...
- Is easier to navigate?
- Is more visually appealing?
- Do you prefer?
- What, if anything, does [competitor brand] do better than [your brand]?
- What, if anything, does [your brand] do better than [competitor brand]?
4. Journey interviews
Hear about your customers’ most recent experience with your brand to gain a comprehensive overview of the customer experience. Understand how your content may have guided their experience or influenced their decision making. Learn what resonated with your customer as well as any negative aspects of their experience. Some sample tasks and questions:
- What is most important to you [before/during/after] [activity description]?
- While you [activity description], what questions or concerns do you typically have? How do you address those questions or concerns?
- What, if anything, makes you [want/not want] to do [activity description] again?
5. Market discovery interviews
Build empathy for your customer base by understanding their point of view, needs, and behavior. Understanding areas like lifestyles and attitudes will help bring more color to your customer data. This is especially helpful when you’re looking to approach challenges or ideas from the perspective of your target audience. Some sample tasks and questions:
- In the next 6 months, which [adjective] goals are you looking to accomplish?
- What resources do you currently use to help you complete [task or activity]?
- What are your thoughts on where your current progress on [goal]?
- How do you [complete activity/make a decision]? Open your camera to show us while describing your process aloud.
As you begin formulating and acting on your research strategy, keep these best practices in mind:
Test on multiple devices
Smartphones and computers are used differently, and the difference in screen sizes results in differently displayed content. Test on multiple devices to confirm the content is displaying and received by your customers as expected. You can also confirm if the translated gestures for your content is intuitive. For example, you can hover with a computer mouse, but not with your finger on smartphones. Did you translate the hover gesture in an intuitive manner for smartphone users?
Select your demographics carefully
Not all studies require a participant pool of your exact target demographic breakdown to yield actionable and relatable insights. Take a step back and look at your test plan at a high level and inform your demographics. For example, do you need existing or new users/customers? Participants from a specific region to test localized content? Remember that with qualitative studies, you receiving insights into the WHY of your question. You may not need your exact target demographic breakdown to understand why a specific call to action is not converting as well as expected, or why the clickthrough rate of a promotional banner is low.
Counter the recency effect
When you are testing two or more ideas, brands, concepts, etc., it’s important to balance your test to combat the recency effect. If you have [A] and [B] in your study, half the participants should view [A] then [B], and the other half [B] then [A]. When there are 2 or more items, participants tend to recall the last item(s) the best. Without a balanced study, your data will be inherently biased. When launching your study through UserTesting, enable Balanced Comparison to balance your study.
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If you’d like to learn more about how UserTesting can help you understand your customers through real-time human insights, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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