August 17, 2020 3 ways user research can improve your content marketing efforts

By Tom Halpin

3 men sitting while using laptops and watching man beside whiteboard

Knowing your audience shouldn’t be guess work; it requires effort to gather valuable information and should be done from day one. Only then can you validate product ideas and marketing tactics to improve your content’s performance.

We explore the top three ways you can leverage user research for your content marketing efforts.

1. It helps analyse user behaviour so you can segment your audience

Ask any researcher and they’ll tell you a myriad of different ways of approaching the same problem. Yes, they know the method of usability testing. But they also put in the hard work to know where and how to do the research.

You can start by analysing user behaviour to identify the specifics needs and problems users have. For example, website analytics gives you real-time user behaviour though heat mapping, which tracks mouse movements and clicks. You can also analyse other behaviours, such as duration of visits and whether users are returning or first-time visitors, click through rates (CTR’s), and more. From this information, you can visualise your website users, create relevant content, and deliver highly targeted experiences.

User behaviour provides insight into your buyer personas – the fictional descriptions of your ideal customer – so you can better define and know your audience. Interviews and field research can further segment and guide the development of buyer personas, as well as your other content marketing efforts. This doesn’t mean simply asking people what they want, rather, it’s about gathering information from customer behaviours, and identifying opportunities that better serve them.

2. It improves your website’s usability which can increase your conversion rate

No matter how great your content is, if a user cannot access, read, and share it easily, they won’t engage with it. To identify major problems on your website and fix them quickly, you need to conduct ongoing technical audits of your site.

Say you manage an online clothing store and decide to review your website’s information architecture (IA). If a visitor lands on your site for a specific reason, did they find the right information and take the next action? If not, they may have left the website without conversion. Start by auditing your site’s navigation menu. Ensure all labels and URLs are logical and easy to understand. Check that important navigational elements, like sidebars, comments, and social media buttons are in working order.

If you do happen to find major problems with your site’s structure, then user research can rescue it. Card sorting is one research technique that gets the users to group information in a way that makes sense to them. You might pick a set of optics based on the content you want to include on your website or app. You’ll write different topics on each card, shuffle them in random order, then hand them over to the user to sort through. This is an effective way to see how real users will navigate to your site and its IA, rather than just guessing yourself.

3. It provides insight into your audience’s social habits and content consumption

Conducting user research can help you observe content consumption habits and behaviour on your social media channels. You can untangle how members of your target audience think and the way they go about problem solving.

According to the Nielson Norman Group, what users believe they know about user interfaces (UI) strongly impacts how they use it.  In UX terms, these are called mental models, which are a blueprint of an audience’s behaviour, actions and assumptions about a given task. User mental models serve as strategic pain points and keep your audience at the centre of content planning and creation efforts, while constantly iterating as you learn more about your audience.

Mental models are built on insights from primary research, like website analytics, as well as secondary research from social channels and publications. For example, if you need to figure out what’s trending in fitness training to plan your content, simply view discussion threads in forums and on relevant LinkedIn groups. These customer insights may give you information about the fitness industry, like how fitness trainers problem solve, what challenges exist, and what topics are being discussed.

Laying a solid foundation for your user research can be costly and time-consuming, especially when you’re creating content that targets the bottom line. Luckily, we know how to speak to your audience, without breaking the bank. Get in touch with Avion Communications today – we’re content marketing and strategy experts who can help you reach your audience with user-centric web content.