Would you build a building without blueprints? Would you set out to a place you’d never been before without consulting a road map? The answer to these questions for most people would be a resounding “No.” However, we at Blizzard are often asked if we can “just get started” on a marketing or design project and skip the initial research. Below are a few critical benefits to having thorough research results in hand before beginning any website marketing or design project.
- Save Money - Like the building built without a blueprint or the road trip taken without a map, a marketing or design project launched without research is bound to take more time and incur more costs. Why? Because inevitably some of the work will need to be altered mid-project in order to meet unforeseen needs or concerns. Lee Odden posted a great internet marketing article earlier this month where he describes a scenario all too familiar to online marketing professionals. A redesign is to be published on Monday and Friday afternoon someone decides to ask, “How does this look with regards to SEO?” The result is twice the time spent cleaning up what could have been avoided had thorough research been applied at the outset.
- Minimize Risks and Realize Higher Returns – Having research as the foundation for your marketing plan is the best insurance for that plan’s success. If your marketing team is able, through proper research, to identify risks and weaknesses at the start of a plan, they are able to allocate marketing funds towards those initiatives that will mitigate weaknesses while building upon existing strengths. Let’s take the example Lee offered in his article. If instead this project had begun by creating a research team before launching their redesign, a thorough migration plan could have been in place before one piece of code had been written. The SEO team would have been given the opportunity to identify successful, high ranking pages to preserve in the redesign process and to pinpoint underperforming pages that offered opportunities for increased visibility in the new design, resulting in increased returns from the finished product.
- Gain a Competitive Edge - A successful marketing initiative doesn’t exist in a vacuum; a complete analysis of the competition provides a panoramic view of the marketing landscape in which your initiative will perform. Competitive analysis will find weaknesses to be capitalized upon, strategies to be emulated and opportunities for growth in market share.
At the beginning of a marketing project, the Blizzard Internet Marketing team may implement a number of programs to glean as much as possible about your design or marketing plan prior to implementation. Here are some examples of the types of research your team may conduct:
- Keyword Research – We utilize several tools in order to assess which phrases will bring your website the most traffic, which will offer opportunities to expand market share and which are being overlooked by your competition. If you want to try it out for yourself, Trent has listed a couple free tools for keyword research.
- Website Navigation Roadmap – At the outset of a design or redesign, our SEO experts map out the recommended site structure from an SEO perspective. This research helps create a website that utilizes the latest techniques in website usability and search engine optimization.
- Competitor Research – Competition research includes search engine rankings and the various elements that affect them, including SEO and linking strategies. Your project manager will use these findings to your advantage when creating the marketing plan for your project.
- Website Baseline Research – Your marketing team analyzes the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities associated with your website based upon industry benchmarks for page saturation, inbound links, age of domain, usability and conversion rate. Historic traffic trends and website statistics are also recorded, if available.
- Demographic Research – If your website analytics software has the capability, your marketing team will evaluate the demographic profile of website visitors based upon location, channel and platform utilized.
- Paid Advertising Research – Pay-per-click campaigns can make up a large portion of an online marketing budget. Detailed research prior to account creation can help maximize the return on this investment by targeting the most cost-effective keywords to include in the campaign.
- Directory Research – Our directory experts analyze your current internet reach and identify new resources to build traffic to and conversions from your website.
- Online Reputation Research – What are your customers are saying about your company or your product? Online reputation research involves reviewing social media sites so that marketing efforts can capitalize on what your clients like while addressing any issues that may be uncovered by the team.
What’s the moral of this story? Don’t start driving until you know where you’re headed! Whether embarking on a design or marketing project, comprehensive research will provide a strong foundation for any project’s success.
Photo from federico_marque