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Preliminary & Market Research (Ep. #02)

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

Customers and clients have become dependent on digital technology in order to research and compare products and services, and also to gather everyday information. In addition to this, it has become a mainstream method for communication and sharing information with others. A successful digital marketing strategy is essential to your business's marketing overview.

Digital Marketing Channels

Digital marketing has never been more essential to your business marketing strategy. According to Statista there were 62.1million internet users in 2020 with 46.6million users accessing the internet everyday. The top 5 reasons for internet usage in Great Britain in 2020 were:

Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Iphone, Female, Marketing
62.1million internet users in 2020
  • Email communication

  • Researching products and services

  • Internet banking

  • Social media platforms (both their browsing and messaging apps)

  • Accessing news articles.

Digital Marketing methods such as email marketing, blogs, social media platforms, apps and websites, are all avenues that the top five use of digital media depend on. This demonstrates that now more than ever, that customers are predominantly opting for the online experience. Therefore, the overall marketing strategy for your business should have a well-rounded and significantly developed digital marketing strategy.

There were 62.1million internet users in 2020 with 46.6million users accessing the internet everyday!

From knowing that your customers and clients are reachable via digital platforms, it makes sense to market your services or products according to this. Conversation research is analysing data from “conversations” happening within specific focus areas. When applied to digital marketing it is also sometimes referred to as “social listening”.

Social Listening & Social Media Monitoring

Social listening is acknowledging, monitoring and analysing the conversations that are taking place about a brand, company or industry online. According to Hubspot Research “Social Listening is the #1 tactic used by marketers."

In her 2013 book Social Media Marketing, Linda Eagle gives the five stages of social listening. These are:

  1. "Listen to conversations about a brand or company

  2. Listen to what people say about the competitors

  3. Listen to what people say about the industry or category

  4. Listening for the tone of the community

  5. Listening to different social media channels"

Social media monitoring is looking at data from your social media channels from monitoring tagging and mentioning of either your brand, similar companies, or your competitors but also for the keywords that relate to your business and industry.

The context of these mentions all contribute to audience research and help to monitor changing industry trends. When you utilise these insights to plan changes and develop your strategies this is social listening. Social listening is putting the data from your social media monitoring into action. Collectively these two techniques are a is a great way to get to know your customers and make them happy - you will find out what customers do or don't like, workout what campaign strategies are successful and which aren't.

“Social Listening is the #1 tactic used by marketers." (Hubspot)

Part of social media monitoring is acknowledging social media sentiment. Social media sentiment is monitoring the attitudes, mood or feelings of your customers. Social media sentiments help you determine whether customers’ responses to something are a positive or negative one.

By listening to the conversations of your customers you can begin to understand how they are responding not only to your brand but also to the content that you are posting; whether that's campaigns, videos or general posts. Doing all this can alert you to the changes in the trends and preferences of your customers.

Feedback through social listening means that you can make changes to suit your audience.

The data from this analysis can differ on each platform which is why it's important to listen to the conversations taking place over the various social media platforms and not only one. Each platform has its own tone, purpose, and type of user. Its essential to understand this and take it into account when analysing the data you collect so that you can understand and determine your course of action for each social media platform, or digital marketing avenue, individually.

Another great way to think of social listening is as delivering customer service on mass. You are identifying the problem brought to your attention by the customer and then using this information to better improve your product or service. The earlier you spot the problem, the easier you can fix it before it turns into a huge crisis. Within your strategy you will have a “crisis management” section, social listening is a key aspect of this.

A great way to think of social listening is as delivering customer service on mass.

Competitor Analysis

Another aspect of your preliminary research is Competitor Analysis. This will vary depending on the type of business you are starting or establishing. You will need to compare your brand, if you have already started your business, against others that you are competing against. If you’re conducting this research prior to starting your business, it is good practice to compare various competitors against one another.

In regards to social media competitor analysis, you will want to compare each platform individually. For example, you’ll want to compare each of your competitors Facebook accounts against one another, and then repeat the same again for their Instagram accounts, and so on.

Here are some criterion to check:

  1. Whether their accounts are active.

  2. Estimate what percentage of their accounts are promotional posts?

  3. How many followers do they have?

  4. How many published posts do they have? And what format are they - for example, are they mostly images, do they publish or share videos? Are there text-based posts?

  5. Try and identify which of their post formats seem to generate the most engagement.

There are also other criteria to look for, for example, if you are comparing competitors websites: you will pay attention to aspects such as design, structure, ease of progression through various pathways, quantity of text, what optimisation tactics do they employ?

Social listening and competitor analyses make seem time consuming and laborious, however, the insights provided are essential for marketing campaign success. The data gathered through your competitor analyses and your conversation research are compiled and used to shape your objectives and metrics, and your social media strategy.

If you're going to market you're business, it makes sense to understand and communicate with your customers directly and appropriately. Digital marketing strategies are the most essential tool for ensuring future growth and sales.

Find out next week how to turn data into action when we discuss developing your digital marketing strategy!

Key Terms:

Social Media Monitoring; Social Media Sentiment; Social Listening; Conversation Research; Competitor Analysis

Further Resources:

Eagle, L. (2013). Social Media Marketing

We hope you’ve found this helpful, if you have any questions on this, you can message me on Instagram @connollymediamarketing.

In next week’s podcast episode we will start looking at goals, objectives and KPIs using the information from this week’s episode. By looking at these we can start to properly develop your digital marketing strategy. Follow our podcast: Digital Marketing, The Fundamentals


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