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Leveraging digital for customer-focused insights

Most companies conduct various types of research to understand the needs of the market. These may include primary research, 3rd party research, brand wave studies, voice of the customer, and online surveys. In addition to those, digital capabilities come with their own sources of real-time digital insight to help keep customers’ needs and experience in focus as you plan and execute your marketing efforts.

Content is keyword

Digital keyword research lets customers tell the company — in their own words — exactly what they need in terms of the content that will bring them to the company site. Once there, they can engage with product and service content designed specifically for each point in the buying cycle. SEO based on keyword research is the first step in responding to this need.

Diving deeper with intent modeling

But customer intent modeling (CIM) is a deeper level of keyword research, delivering even more valuable digital insight. Sometimes referred to as “search listening,” it starts much the same as SEO research, identifying relevant “parent” and “child” terms that have a high search volume. But for a CIM, these “trailhead” words are then input back into the Google tool asking it to return all the associated longer tail and related terms. In this process, 100 trailheads might return 5000 or more related words. This large dataset is then cleaned of inapplicable words and the remainder are classified into topics and subtopics of content areas. This essentially takes a large set of unstructured keyword data and turns it into structured semantic maps of the content topics that will capture the targeted search opportunity at various levels of the buying cycle and direct those people to the relevant pages of the site.

In addition, looking at this data longitudinally provides a clear view of content trends — which topics are rising in interest and which are falling — as well as seasonality. The data can also be used to identify where customers are finding this information now and whether your company has the “right to win” those terms organically. It also prioritizes the SEO projects from “low-hanging fruit” to “more work for less gain.” Obviously, this deep insight can also be leveraged to make good paid search buying decisions.

Listen and learn

Social listening is another valuable digital insight practice that every company should be investing in. With the right tools, marketers can access real-time insight on what potential customers need, the words they use, what they do and don’t understand, what makes them happy, their challenges, their ideas, what they think of the company, its products and services and those of its competitors. You’ll also learn who’s leading these conversations: the all-important influencers.

Through social listening, customers will tell your company precisely how to market to them. But the data also gives insight into new products and services that need to be created, features that need to be added, what to call new products, services, and features. It can also tell you what documentation is needed, how to execute packaging and much more. Listening also enables customers to reach out to customer service via social networks and this could be a real differentiator.

This capability can be built in-house or outsourced to an agency. Ideally listening should be done on an always-on/real-time basis, but great digital insights can be gained from a one-time listening project. As a general rule, any campaign that an agency is involved in should start with a social listening project.

Regardless of what business you may be in, it’s crucial to leverage digital insights to inform your business and marketing strategies. This is how savvy businesses surface their market’s needs and act to build their business around their customers’ experience.

Ken Godfrey

Ken Godfrey is a battle-tested digital marketing innovator who specializes in building trust and inspiring teams. Working in the digital marketing domain for more than 20 years, he brings a deep understanding of the latest strategy, marketing, user experience, content, and analytics practices; all supported by a stellar record of creating and executing digital strategies and campaigns that deliver excellent business results. A transformation agent, a writer by trade, and a content expert, Ken is also an experienced, effective, and popular people manager who has built and led high-performance teams — large and small, direct and matrix — to achieve spectacular results. He thrives on collaboration. Starting as an advertising copywriter at Poppe Tyson at the advent of the Web itself, he served as Creative Director at Poppe Tyson, Grey Interactive, Blue Marble, and Wunderman. He has worked on hundreds of websites and digital campaigns for dozens of B2B and B2C companies in the technical, manufacturing, financial, healthcare, and consumer products industries. For 13 years at IBM, Ken was trusted to improve the performance of IBM's highest-value, business-critical digital properties. Through a series of digital roles, progressively growing in scope and influence, he transformed one organization after another, increasing traffic, engagement, and lead generation by improving the customer experience using customer insight. At Philips, he successfully led the digital transformation of the company's North American market. In each of his many roles, success has come from driving digital performance and transforming the enterprise through user-centered content, innovative ideas, and relentless testing and tracking. He is now the President and Principal Consultant of CopyLounge Consulting, which he founded to help businesses large and small evaluate and advance their digital maturity.

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