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While most business owners and upper management think they understand their target audience, you don’t want to invest money into inbound marketing to find out that you targeted the wrong group of people or that you missed out on a more lucrative group of potential customers.

So how can you be sure that your inbound marketing plan is set up to attract the right people? Use market research to inform your decisions!

First we’ll review the two main types of market research and then we’ll discuss how market research can help you perfect your inbound marketing plan.

Types of Market Research

  1. Quantitative Market Research

Quantitative market research discovers the objective measurements behind customer decisions through surveys and questionnaires. Through analyzing this numerical data, researchers are hoping to capture an unbiased result that they can apply to a larger population.

Some common examples of quantitative data include:

  • What proportion of customers find a product useful, attractive, a good investment, and so on.
  • What proportion of customers use the internet to conduct research or make a purchase.
  • What proportion of customers would respond to a promotion or incentive (e.g. reduced price, enhanced product, longer warranty period, etc.).
  • What proportion of customers are aware of a business’s full roster of products and services.
  1. Qualitative Market Research

If quantitative research is finding out “what” people prefer, qualitative research is discovering “why”. Qualitative research goes deeper into understanding the emotion and motivation behind customer behavior. This approach can be useful for revealing how customers feel about a brand, why they like particular marketing messages and more.

Qualitative market research can be done through in-depth interviews, focus groups, and online bulletin boards. Some common examples of quantitative data include:

  • Why customers choose product A over product B
  • Why customers navigate a website in a certain way
  • How customers feel about changes in a product

Benefits of Market Research for Inbound Marketing

Now that you know the two main types of market research, let’s discuss how they can benefit your inbound marketing strategy:

  1. Build A Better Buyer Persona

First and foremost, your marketing should be crafted to reach the right audience and the right ideal customer type (aka buyer persona). Therefore, by utilizing market research to build out an accurate buyer persona profile before beginning your marketing efforts, you can be sure that you’re marketing to the right person.

Once developed, a buyer persona profile influences everything from marketing content, to sales funnel development, product development and so on. With robust and realistic buyer personas, businesses have a map, direction, and destination so that their marketing efforts can succeed. Without developed buyer personas, businesses could be missing out on connecting with profitable customers, and failing to fully exploit the full revenue potential and lifetime value of existing customers.

Here are some key characteristics of your buyer persona that market research can help you get right:

  • Demographic-related data (age, gender, etc.).
  • Industry-related data (sector, size, etc.)
  • Job-related data (role, responsibility, authority, etc.)
  • Personal-related data (interests, hobbies, etc.)
  • Research-related data (how they get information, what publications and blogs do they read, etc.)
  • Goal-related data (what are their aspirations, what problem do they need to solve)
  • Objection-related data (what are their key obstacles to solving their problem)
  • Budget-related data (how much money do they have to spend to solve their problem)
  • Decision-related data (what is their authority, are they a decision-maker or an influencer, etc.)
  1. Evaluate New Attract & Convert Opportunities

With inbound marketing, you’re looking to attract your buyer persona and convert them into a lead which will hopefully turn into a customer! Through market research, you can evaluate potential new audiences to attract and uncover fresh conversion points to turn visitors into leads.

As I’m sure you know, potential new audiences aren’t always easy to identify. When you own a business, it’s easy to get tunnel vision to where you see your products and services applied in a select number of ways. With market research, you are able to research whether your current audience is happy with your offerings and whether there are more lucrative audiences you hadn’t thought of. For this type of research, I typically recommend hiring a third-party firm so you can be sure the results are unbiased. All too often in-house market research can lead to confirmation bias, where your team finds results because they wanted to find a particular outcome.

Next, with new conversion opportunities, you can find where and when potential customers are interacting with your business to try to convert them before they’re ready to purchase. Through the buyer’s journey of awareness, consideration and decision, there are many questions that your business can answer for its buyer personas!

  • Awareness Stage – In the awareness stage, providing educational content on common problems and symptoms is key! From research reports to expert content, you can help potential customers discover that they’re not alone in their situation. Plus your expertise can help describe why they’re experiencing a problem and offer several solutions!
  • Consideration Stage – Once a person has decided on the exact problem they’re experiencing, they’ll most likely be looking for a solution (if they haven’t found one through your awareness stage content offers). Whether it’s a product they need or a method to solve the problem, internet research almost always comes in handy to see what other people chose as a solution and to understand all the problem’s complexities before deciding on a solution.
  • Decision Stage – Now having defined their problem and solution, your buyer persona is probably going to start looking for vendor and product comparisons, case studies, free trials, etc. By offering these to potential customers, they get educational information while learning about your business plus they might even trade their contact information (like a Name and Email Address) to download these content offers.
  1. Can Help Determine Focus SEO Keywords for Content

When your buyer persona is online looking to buy your product or service, what do they look for? Whether they’re in the awareness, consideration or decision stage of the buyer’s journey, you want to be sure that they can find you. This is when using qualitative and quantitative methods really comes in handy, because you can uncover the right SEO keywords to use in your content.

Using market research, you can find out the specific terms your audience is using to search for your business and you can also find out what questions they are asking in the buyer’s journey. By creating content and optimizing your pages based around these terms, you’ll have better success drawing people into your website and better awareness of what questions your website needs to answer for them.

For example, if you are selling business signs, you may find through market research that people are searching for “window clings” when they are trying to find window graphics. Therefore, you can optimize your website for the term that a person would be searching for or write blog content around it!

Next Steps

If you’re an inbound marketing agency looking to capitalize on market research for your clients, it’s truly a win-win! With data-backed strategies, you can ensure that your campaigns are targeting the right people at the right time with the right messaging. Not only does this create more success for you as an agency, but it creates more success for your clients.