“I know what my audience wants.” But do you really know … or are you just assuming? What makes your audience tick? What compels them to purchase your product, schedule an appointment, request a quote, click “share” or fill out a form?

Don’t just assume — find out. As marketers, we need to spend more time unearthing the hard facts through original research.

A study from BuzzSumo and Mantis Research found that nine out of 10 companies who do original research find it successful.

  • 56% of respondents reported their results met or exceeded their expectations.
  • Only 3% were disappointed.

Compiling data through original research can teach you what you need to know — and it’s worth every effort.

Related Article: The Art of Creating Customer Surveys They Will Answer

Turn to the Source of Truth: Your Audience

Recently, my team and I sought to learn what consumers want when they research a doctor. Which details matter most? What makes a patient schedule an appointment with a doctor? And how can we use those findings to inform our content strategies for physician bios?

We dove into this challenge and came out on the other side with valuable insights. Here’s our 8-step process:

1. Choose an area where you need supportive data

Look for a topic in your industry that’s frequently asserted but rarely supported. It should be something peripheral to your brand that your audience finds intriguing.

Related Article: Move Beyond Surveys to Gain the Full View of Your Customers

2. Create a survey using online tools like SurveyMonkey

These tools are user-friendly and give you tons of options for question formats: fill-ins, multiple-choice, ordered lists, yes/no, etc.

3. Get to the point

We asked 10 questions in our physician bio survey, which took respondents an average of two minutes to complete. Try to keep your survey as short and simple as possible.

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: Drawing a Line Between VoC, Customer Experience and Customer Analytics

4. Promote the survey to your existing audience

Share the survey on your social media channels. Send it to your existing email lists in a newsletter or marketing automation campaign. Track those from your lists who’ve taken the survey and those who haven’t.

5. Purchase responses from your target market

Use SurveyMonkey’s Audience product to reach a guaranteed audience. You can choose your target market and get responses within hours for only a few hundred dollars.

6. Analyze the results

Export the results and splice the data to find the hidden gems. We broke our data out by respondent gender, age and education so we could quickly find trends. Create visuals with charts and graphs.

7. Spread the word

Promote the findings in various content pieces like press releases, blog posts, guest posts, webinars and infographics. When you become the primary source of new information, you gain links, authority and brand awareness.

8. Use the data to your advantage

Hopefully, you learned something about your target market. Now use that knowledge. Did you discover your audience is influenced by testimonials or case studies? Include them prominently in bottom-of-the-funnel areas of your site. Sprinkle the insights into your content strategy.

You need to know what combination of information will compel your audience to take action. Take the guesswork out of it by rolling up your sleeves and conducting your own research. Then you can give the audience the (data-driven, research-backed) details they want.

fa-solid fa-hand-paper Learn how you can join our contributor community.