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Three Ways to Use Digital Marketing to Gather Research

July 6, 2011

By Grace Bello

Your brand may already have a social media presence and e-mail marketing strategy. However, are you using these platforms to hear what your consumers are saying about you?

Here are three actionable ways to utilize your organization's digital marketing tools as a listening device rather than a loudspeaker.

Test subject lines.

Sure, e-mail is an inexpensive and efficient way to get your message across. And advanced e-mail marketers such as yours truly utilize A/B tests to optimize their brand's e-mail open and click-through rates. The next step, then, is taking a hint from the winning subject line and learning what your audience is more interested in.

To use an example from a recent ANA e-mail test, I compared results for the subject line "Masters of Marketing Conference and Webinar" versus "Masters of Marketing Conference in Phoenix, AZ and Webinar." The singular addition of the event location boosted click-through rates an additional 60%. That is, without discounting, an online ad buy, or e-mail list buy, we gained a significant uptick in e-mail engagement.

Clearly, the ANA's audience is particularly interested in events that take place outside of our home city of New York. (Good thing, too, as our annual Masters of Marketing Conference in Phoenix, AZ is sure to be the premier industry event of the year.) Based on your e-mail marketing analytics, what piques your audience's interest?

One tweet, three ways.

Try writing in two or three distinctly different tones on Twitter when promoting the same piece of content. Monitor which message got the most retweets and responses. For instance, our recent missive "4 tips for building a better #blog http://t.co/QV1UaIU" got retweeted to 2,306 followers. Had we the time, we could have tested the same link with three different tones, such as:

We could then see whether the straightforward, teasing, or authoritative tone fared best. And from then on, we could skew our messages to fit what our audience responds to the most.

Therefore, Twitter, just like your e-mail marketing messages, can serve as a testing ground. Use it wisely.

What clicks?

When it comes to your e-mail marketing, which stories get the most clicks? In my D2C days, anything above the fold garnered the highest CTRs. Whether it was the company logo, the header or the top navigation panel, or a big "click here" button, readers would rather handpick their content from the website rather than from the e-mail itself.

However, here at the ANA, relevant e-mail content is king. The more informative and of-the-moment stories in our e-mails grab the most reader clicks. Therefore, I look to e-mail analytics to guide which content we should continue to promote from our Marketing Knowledge Center.

Other opportunities to gauge your best content include keyword searches on your landing page as well as analytics reports. In the vein of a survey, use this kind of data to assess what your audience is interested in and, by extension, how to better serve your customers.

What other digital marketing data do you use to guide your brand?

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