There are ever increasing tools and sophisticated methods that are helping people/agencies better understand their own/clients website audience, however, decisions are still being made based on individual interpretation, instead of gaining enough context from data in order to take action on insights. To avoid this filtered process, one should take a pillared approach to ensure the right information is captured at the right time in order to be truly in touch with your audience on a current and ongoing basis. This post goes through the Company, Competitor, Customer (3 C’s) research pillared approach and some of the supporting tools and processes when going through this process.

Note – The inspiration for this approach came from Distilled’s Adria Saracino content strategy approach which she has presented at Search Love and recent content strategy webinars.

1. Company

Company research basically looks at the fundamental performance areas in order to clearly gain a picture of the sites current situation i.e. what is the sites visitor/sales numbers, what is the sites goals and how have they achieved them to date, what is the key behavioural and audience related figures, what has the company done in the past. It also includes understanding the background behind why the website & company actually exists, it’s messaging and differentiation in order to understand the sites current positioning approach.

Most of this is captured through benchmarking these key statistics and asking the key stakeholders the right questions that allow you to go to the core of their desired outcomes.

The key tools/methods for benchmarking and capturing the answers to above questions includes:

  • Your web analytics provider for Google Analytics. Google Analytics mostly provide benchmarking, audience, behavioral and sales/conversion data
  • Google Webmaster Tools to understand the health and visibility of the overall site from a search perspective
  • A client questionnaire for capturing key information in an archived and easily referenced resource
  • Past campaign performance data across all channels
  • Heat mapping tools for website UX and conversion funnel analysis benchmarking
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2. Competitor

Look at how direct and non-direct competitors are performing, the channels they are using and how they are positioning themselves in order to reach their current audience based.

The following list has been compiled by Smart Insights, based on their RACE Framework, but has then been slightly expanded to include additional tools, metrics or areas of analysis.

  • Investment in digital media
    • Online ad spend benchmarks – Google Double click
    • Referral mix
  • Platform usage
    • Mobile marketing vs. desktop  statistics
  • Search Marketing
    • Keyword Analysis
      • Keyword analysis tools
    • SEO
      • 5 Link analysis tools i.e. Majestic, Ahrefs, Moz Fresh Web Explorer
      • SEMRush
    • PPC/AdWords – Adthena, Adguru
  • Social Media Marketing
    • Influencer analysis tools – Buzzsumo
    • Social sharing tools & analysis – Social Crawlytics, True Social Metrics
      • Facebook analysis tools
      • Google+ analysis tools
      • LinkedIn analysis tools
      • Pinterest analysis tools
      • Twitter analysis tools
        • Hashtag analytics
      • YouTube analysis tools
  • Display Advertising
    • Clickthrough rates
  • E-commerce
    • Competitor price analysis
  • Email Marketing
    • Open and click rates
    • Timing (day of week)
    • Timing (time of day)
    • Best frequency for Email
  • Direct Response
    • Call or email competitors (as a customer) and actually get feedback on their sales process.

3. Customer

Gaining customer insights isn’t necessarily mean classifying the potential customer into the specific demographic box, it’s more about understanding the thought process, behaviors (where do they hang out on the web), interests and demands they are seeking and how you can help fulfill those needs throughout the customer buying cycle.

Tools and methods for capturing this information include:

  • Developing persona’s
  • Then segmenting  or developing cohorts for your persona’s via your existing web analytics tool to dissect visitor behavior
  • Use Google Insights & Keyword Planner (with a grain of salt) to understand past and upcoming search trends
  • Surveys &  website customer feedback tools to identify any new interests or bottlenecks for engaging with the brand.

At the end of the day, gaining audience insights isn’t about finding the data that best fits your situation (because you are filtering the gold nugget insights). Instead of combining company, customer and competitor data will allow you to develop a full picture of your audience and the key insights which you can use to develop and execute channel specific strategies & tactics with realistic KPI’s and outcomes on an ongoing basis.Capture


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