Hello! I’m Dasha, a product marketer at Weblium, a website builder. My role is to make our product more user-centric, address all their pain points and needs, and create the best experience for them when interacting with Weblium. I have a tool in my arsenal that I use to start working on every major task, and I’ll tell you a bit about it.
Today, I want to talk about one of the most crucial stages in working on any project — research. The biggest problem with research is that both clients and marketing professionals, designers, and social media marketers often forget about it. So why does no one want to do research? The answer is often quite simple: it significantly increases the time and cost of project execution. And when do you do research when a website or advertising campaign is needed yesterday, and several such projects are running in parallel?
It’s quite challenging to convey the value of research to clients, let alone sell it as an integral part of the project. If you’ve been in this field for a while, you’ve probably encountered situations where clients say, “I know everything about my product/service,” “our product is needed by everyone,” “we have no competitors,” “we already know the market we’re working in,” and so on.
If we delve a little into psychoanalysis, it’s inherent in all of us to sometimes project our own thoughts or actions onto others. In other words, if I think/buy certain products/see the world in a certain way, then everyone else must be doing the same. And this is a huge mistake for a marketer. Each of us has a different thinking style, context, experience, and even cultural code. No matter how much your client may want to believe that they know their customer, their habits, drivers, barriers — it’s not always the case. And in general, it’s a big disappointment to realize that their product is not needed by everyone, and their advertising budget has been spent in vain.
So why conduct research then?
First and foremost, what is the greatest value of research? It serves as your saving grace, helping to safeguard your project from budget drain, missed deadlines, and overall failure, especially when it comes to launching a new product in the market, for example. How exactly? This is where we come to questions. So who is our customer? What do we know about them beyond socio-demographic criteria? What are their habits, fears, drivers, and barriers? And where does our product or service fit into all of this for them?
For some, this may come as news, but the customer is never just about the product. They are a person who lives their life. They work, engage in sports, build their career, raise children, go for massages, and buy groceries at the supermarket every week. Add to that the emotions they experience every day. Where does your product fit into all of this in the project you are working on? The person doesn’t think about it 24/7; it’s not embedded in their subconscious mind. However, when a special moment arises in their life, let’s call it a trigger, your product can come into their field of vision.
And it is important for us to understand what triggers it, when it occurs, and what its causes are. These are the drivers, barriers, and context that we do not know about our user — the person.
So how do we find them? It’s simple — ask. “Is that all?” you may say. Well, not exactly. There are several types of research. There are agencies that conduct large-scale research. There are large holdings like Nielsen that conduct massive marketing research. But let’s not talk about them now. Such research is more suitable for large corporations, but we are interested in a much narrower niche.
This is the easiest and most accessible way to conduct research. In simple terms, it means Googling, thinking, and analyzing. What can you find by Googling? The same large-scale research conducted by global companies. Audience research conducted by direct competitors. Market trends. Real cases of launching similar products in the market. And so on. References to websites. Failed projects. There are no limitations here, everything you find is yours. The main thing is to thoroughly analyze the information obtained. This will be your basis and will help narrow down the framing before conducting in-depth audience research.
This is where it gets more interesting, so let’s delve into it in more detail. There is a conditional division into quantitative and qualitative research of the target audience.
I recommend starting with qualitative research, as it will help you learn more about a person’s way of thinking, behavior, and identify insights (motivational conflict) that influence their behavior. For such research, we use the tool of in-depth interviews.
Who to talk to? People who have already purchased your products or used your services, as well as those who potentially can do so. In order for the research to yield results and not just be a conversation between two people, it is worth approaching it from a scientific perspective, that is, conducting interviews according to methodology. The most common methodology used for audience research is Jobs To Be Done. The main principle of this methodology is that a person hires (buys) a certain product or service to solve existing tasks and achieve improvements in their life.
The methodology itself is a huge body of information that deserves at least one more article, but preferably a whole series, so I won’t delve into the implementation details. However, here’s what JTBD research can help you achieve:
- Create products and services that are based on a deep understanding of people’s needs and help improve their lives.
- Identify the points of intersection between people and your product or service and develop or improve communication strategies with them at these points to increase their conversion rates.
- Develop and formulate a business value proposition by focusing on the opportunities and benefits that are most important to customers in solving their problems.
- Gain a deeper understanding of the market in which your company operates and identify business growth opportunities.
It’s important to remember that the market exists in the customer’s mind. You may not even realize who, besides direct competitors, you are competing with for their attention. When someone buys a bicycle, they may not necessarily think about the bike itself. They may imagine riding it in the forest in the evening, sitting on a meadow, and meditating to clear their mind after a hard day. The bike is just a tool. In this case, your competition on this market will not only be other companies selling bikes but also yoga studios, for example, or retreat organizers. And you won’t find out about it until you talk to your customer.
Products “disrupt” when a better way to perform their JTBD appears in a customer’s life. By choosing your product, they “disrupt” your competitor, and vice versa.
To conduct such research, you need to conduct 15-25 interviews. On average, a conversation takes 30-40 minutes. After the interviews, the analysis stage begins. You can read more about it in Clayton Christensen’s book, one of the founders of the methodology – “The Innovator’s Dilemma.”
To learn how to ask the right questions in an interview, I recommend reading Chris Voss’s book “Never Split the Difference.” The author gives practical advice on how to conduct negotiations, deeply engage your interlocutor, and get all the information you need.
Quantitative research is the next step after conducting and analyzing interviews. Once you have obtained certain hypotheses from the interviews, they need to be tested, and quantitative research can be helpful in this regard. Typically, quantitative research is conducted online with a larger sample size, depending on the scale of your project. With quantitative research, you can verify the accuracy or fallacy of your hypotheses.
For example, if you found out from the interviews that your users buy bicycles to clear their minds and meditate, but you are not sure if this is a widespread need, you can conduct a quantitative online survey to test this hypothesis. You can use tools like Google Forms to create the survey and send it to those who agree to participate or to a certain contact base via email. In the survey, you can ask questions related to your hypothesis, product, and user behavior. This way, you will be able to quantitatively confirm or refute this hypothesis, which will give you a better understanding of whether you can move forward or need to dig deeper.
Competitor analysis is another important step in the research process. Now that you know not only your direct competitors, but also those with whom you share the market in your customer’s mind, it’s time to analyze their activities. The process here is somewhat similar to desktop research, where you gather all the information you can find about your competitors — from what they do, what products or services they offer, to their website, traffic, social media presence, and marketing efforts. All this information will become another building block in constructing your strategy.
Marketing research before creating a website
Okay, where does Weblium fit into all of this? When developing a website for your client, it’s important for you to not only understand the principles of UX and UI, design trends, and tendencies, but also understand their product or service, the pain points they address for users, how users behave in their decision-making process, and how your website can simplify this task for them. Moreover, your research will impact the messages and Call to Action (CTA) you use to appeal to users.
Your website, advertising, and social media are points of intersection between the product and users. Therefore, it’s essential for you to understand how to communicate with the client in these points, what voice and messages to use, so that they choose your product over your competitors’.
Conducting high-quality research before starting work on the website, advertising campaign, communication, branding, or product strategy will help you differentiate from competitors and find the distinctiveness of the product that will drive your business forward. By working with the Weblium website builder, you can save a significant amount of time that you can use wisely to conduct research.
When creating a website, it’s important to consider whether to focus on a “wow” design or how it solves your client’s problem. It’s a complex task, and sometimes design plays a crucial role in solving user problems. However, to know this for sure, you need to start with research. Weblium can also help you create an effective design based on your research findings.