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Business owners, retailers and marketers are all used to the traditional calendar of events that motivate consumers. It's accepted that parents shops for school items in the late summer, toys and gifts during December, and retailers usually schedule sales accordingly. But just as the internet has changed much about how, where and when people shop for goods, it has also changed when they look for specials.

A recent study of internet search queries reveals that more consumers are searching for deals on the internet throughout the year. According to Hitwise, a division of Connexity, online searches for deals increased 40 percent between 2014 and 2015.

The study found that one in every 300 online searches is focused on finding a coupon, sale, discount or deal. This may just be 0.3 percent of all searches, but when you consider Google performs 3 billion searches a day, it translates into a lot of people that are searching for deals.

The study is based on data from the Hitwise U.S. panel of 10 million online consumers, including 3.5 million mobile devices. A practical use for this data can be seen in what the researchers found out about people looking for sales on shoes or school items.

"Deal-oriented searches include those using keywords: sale, coupon, deal, rebate, bargain, discount or clearance," said John Fetto, senior analyst research and marketing at Connexity, according to media reports. "Interestingly, when it comes to searches for 'sales' specifically, footwear, including shoes and boots, are the most commonly sought-after products throughout the year."

The report also revealed that school shopping starts earlier than many retailers realize. Citing, Connexity's Bizrate Insights, the report found that back to school shopping is starting as early as April. Their recent survey found more than 10 percent of back to school shoppers will begin picking up items by June, and by August more than half will already be shopping.

Retailers who want to take advantage of this should run ads for school supplies, just without specifically mentioning, back-to-school. People know what they need and are looking for a good deal, they don't particularly need an event to justify the sale (20% off is a good bargain whatever the reason).

This research certainly shows the benefits of running specials throughout the year, but there is a need for balance. If customers become too dependent on sales, they may start to pass over items at regular price, knowing that the item will be on sale in a week or two.

This effect has also been seen by retailers in the shoe industry. According to data cited by Footwear News, "the past holiday season alone--which was rife was heavy promotions and saw many footwear and apparel companies garner dismal profits--is evidence of the negative impact that excessive discounting can have on companies."

A good way to maintain balance between sales and regular prices is to make sales specific to certain products or categories of products. By using more nuanced, instead of sitewide sales, customers can't assume the type of item they want to buy will be on sale soon. As an added bonus, rotating specials in this way gives consumers a reason to check the site or newsletter often.

The entire report from Hitwise has some interesting information, and can be downloaded for free from their website. For example, the report found that TV and Tire searches are highest in December and that Furniture and Mattress searches reach their peak in August/September.

Check it out for yourself for more research you can use to plan better campaigns throughout the year. And some more recent research on consumer behavior, read this article on what makes a brand authentic to consumers.

Source:  http://www.inc.com/peter-roesler/study-shows-consumers-searching-for-online-deals-all-year-round.html

Most search marketers understand that it's important to understand your demographics before you can be successful in an SEO campaign. You need to understand who your customers are, why they might be searching for your business, and what kinds of things they want to see when they get to your site.

Accordingly,market research is one of the first steps you'll need to take when planning an SEO campaign. With it, you'll be able to target the right keywords, craft the right content, and eventually get that target market to convert more often.

Unfortunately, there are a number of misconceptions and flawed approaches that prevent search marketers from researching their prospective audiences effectively.

Budgeting

The first problem comes in budgeting, both in terms of time and money. As you might imagine, the more time and money you invest in market research, the more raw information you're going to get. If you don't invest enough time, for example, you may not gather enough information to form a suitable conclusion. If you don't invest enough money, you might not get reliable information. But the problem also extends to the other end of the spectrum; if you invest too much at the outset, you may end up with redundant information or waste too much time and money for your information to be worth it.

The Right Questions to Ask

You also need to know what kinds of questions to ask. Simply learning "more" about your users isn't going to help you directly when it comes to planning your target keywords, creating an overall content strategy, or sketching a plan for your link building campaign. Keep your focus not on independent identifiers (such as education level or geographic location), but instead on how those identifiers relate to your campaign (such as how familiar they are with your industry, or how they're likely to search). Most marketers get caught up in seeking information without a tie back to a practical takeaway.

Sources

Most marketers end up relying only on one or two sources of information; this is inherently flawed. Different data sets are going to offer you slightly different insights, based on their selection samples and their approaches. It's far better to collect information from multiple sources to ensure you have the broadest perspective possible on your target market.

You'll also want to make sure you consult both primary and secondary sources. Secondary sources are sources that have already conducted research and have formed conclusions; for example, the US Census Bureau offers tons of demographic information you can access for free. Primary sources rely on your own research, and often take the form of surveys, interviews, or other firsthand methods of gathering information. These have complementary advantages and disadvantages, so be sure to take advantage of both.

Buying Cycle Considerations

Many search marketers also neglect an important aspect of demographics; the buying cycle. You might know your average customer's interest level, demographic makeup, and maybe even a bit about their search behavior, but at what point in the buying cycle are you targeting them? Are you looking for customers early in the research phase, or customers ready to buy immediately? There's a broad spectrum here (for most businesses), and you can get very different answers from the same target market based on where you set your goals.

The Right Demographics

When it comes to market research, most search marketers start with a demographic in mind. They then work to find more information about this demographic, using the methods and considerations I've mentioned above. This is useful, but it depends on one crucial assumption: that you've chosen the right demographic in the first place. Part of this question ties back to a broader question of your business, but don't underestimate it, and don't leave your assumptions unchallenged. Another demographic may exist in greater numbers, with a greater interest in your business--so don't leave any rocks unturned here.

If you can proactively identify and correct these misconceptions and flawed approaches before they interfere with your market research, you'll establish a better course for your organization's SEO campaign. This isn't a guarantee that all yourinformation will be accurate, or that all your other market research techniques are correct, but it will help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls that prevent this work from being effective. From here, you can combine your market research with your competitive research, and start collecting the best target keywords for your campaign.

Source:  http://www.inc.com/samuel-edwards/what-search-marketers-get-wrong-about-demographic-research.html

Categorized in Market Research

As Fractl's Inbound Marketing Manager, Kerry Jones is responsible for overseeinginbound marketing research initiatives for our brand. Ultimately, this research is used to further refine Fractl's approach to content creation and influencer marketing, which has enabled us to produce some of the most viral content marketing campaigns on behalf of our clients:

Today, I've interviewed her on her approach to our research, and how other brands can leverage this strategy to increase their brand's reach, engagement, and organic rankings.

What are the benefits of using research in content marketing campaigns?

Research-backed content is appealing to audiences and publishers alike when your data is newsworthy, original, and/or compelling. Including research in your content is becoming a crucial piece for getting it picked up by publishers. When we surveyed 500 top-tier publishers, 39% told us the perfect piece of content includes exclusive research.

I should emphasize new research works best. Regurgitating data already being circulated within your industry is not as effective, unless you are presenting it in a new or novel content format.

How can brands collect their own exclusive research?

There are a few options for obtaining exclusive data.

Proprietary company data is great for content marketing since it is truly exclusive in that no one else has access to it. Kickstarter regularly releases data about crowdfunding, like this blog post about the first 100,000 Kickstarter projects. Fitness tracker Jawbone uses its user data for studies, and then turns the findings ino content like this look at male and female sleep patterns.

Surveys are another excellent way to gather exclusive research since you can often get a lot of mileage out of them. For example, in-depth surveys can provide enough data for multiple content initiatives. When these surveys happen on a recurring basis, such as HubSpot's annual State of Inbound survey, you can build anticipation around the release of your latest survey results. Doing industry surveys has value well beyond creating content, such as gaining new insights into your vertical and positioning your brand as an authority.

Secondhand data sources can be just as powerful, and they are surprisingly easy to get your hands on. For every industry, there's an abundance of interesting data and new research out there, but the average person isn't reading government databases and academic journals for fun. Companies can strike content marketing gold by combing through these cumbersome sources, extracting the most interesting insights, and then packaging those findings in a content format that's easy to digest.

Can research-driven marketing campaigns be done on a smaller budget?

You can definitely create awesome content campaigns featuring exclusive research on the cheap if you're willing to put in the time.

Surveys are an affordable way to collect firsthand research. If you're doing a survey on your industry, for example, you can recruit your professional contacts as respondents. Data curation is usually an even less expensive option, thanks to an abundance of data sources available to the public, most of which are free. Some of the Fractl team's favorites include:

There are a ton of free tools for creating data visualizations, too. Thishuge list of free data tools is a good place to start. Google Charts is extremely easy to use, and allows you to create simple graphs and charts from your data set. Tableau Public is another favorite tool of mine. The free version is pretty powerful and although this tool has a steep learning curve, it's worth taking the time to learn.

Can you share some of your favorite research-backed Fractl marketing campaigns?

  • The ROI of Content Marketing vs. Native Advertising: We set out to measure which tactic provided a better return, content marketing or native advertising. Our data collection for this campaign included surveying content marketing agencies and partnering with another company to obtain raw data from their research on native advertising costs.
  • The Inbound Marketing Economy:For this campaign, we analyzed more than 75,000 job listings on Indeed to uncover trends in inbound marketing roles.
  • Content Engagement by Generation: To better understand how different age groups consume online content, we surveyed three different generations: Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers.

Source:  http://www.inc.com/replacemeplease1456168325.html

Categorized in Market Research

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