Content marketing has a long history of missing out on the qualitative analysis. Whether that’s for budgeting reasons, or because of something else, one thing is clear – I’d like to see user feedback in the top three content marketing tools. Here’s how they can up your content game.
Using analytics is almost a given these days. If you have a website, you most likely track your visitors somehow. In the top 10,000 websites, 58.9% of them use Google Analytics (as of 13.10.2022 – not to mention the plentiful alternatives.
They’re popular for a number of reasons:
It sounds like a perfect match, but what are the disadvantages?
While it might be easy to get going, many analytics tools have a steep learning curve. Working with data is no joke and it has many pitfalls, even if we ignore the wonky user interface of services like Google Analytics. In one of our newsletters, we discussed drawing incorrect conclusions from data. It’s scary how easy it is.
And while the quality of data will increase with the size of your audience, it’s not the same when you grow your site. It’s bound to happen the more content you put out there, making the learning curve even steeper. Making sense of complex structures with hundreds of pages can be challenging without sufficient data analysis knowledge.
Finally, the quantitative analysis only highlights that there is a problem. It’s up to you to figure out the root cause and potential solutions. That’s a huge missing piece, especially for marketing teams with limited resources. My stats here are purely anecdotal, but in 9 out of 10 cases, the best-case scenario is that marketers make educated guesses about the problem.
You can probably fill the gap by now. The qualitative analysis complements the quantitative analysis. With user feedback, you can discover the root cause of issues in three to five tests. Not only that, speaking with your target audience gives you a ton of ideas.
If your team is smaller, or even if you’re a freelance copywriter, there are affordable alternatives as well. These include techniques like:
This form of asynchronous feedback sits somewhere between qualitative and quantitative analysis. They share some of the cost & scale benefits of the latter while giving you feedback that is closer to qualitative tests.
It’s a cheaper alternative, but to make the most out of it you have to be cautious. Before putting a test in front of hundreds of people, it’s vital to test it with a few of them during moderated tests. This is to make sure that your instructions are clear to the testers. But don’t worry, these won’t be testing sessions that last 30 minutes and cost a fortune. The unmoderated tests (like tree testing for headings) take just a few minutes, so you could even make it a group test for five people and note if they struggle with instructions or focus on the wrong thing.
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The short answer is: yes.
And they’re not much different than moderated tests for anything else. The most important bit is, as always, to avoid bias. One counterintuitive way to achieve this is not being fully transparent with your testers. Sounds mean, I know, but it will help them keep an open mind.
You can’t just tell them “oh, we’re testing this blog post”. Instead, paint a scenario – “you’ve landed on this article that was interesting to you, show me how would you go from this point to X”. And X can be anything. It’s all about engaging them in a story that involves reading (or scanning) the article, without making the content a centrepiece.
During the test, keep track of the following:
As always with user testing, the biggest challenge is reading between the lines. Even though testers give you invaluable feedback, oftentimes the direct comments are not the most useful. Keeping track of the above will help you connect the dots between their comments and the actual perception of the text. And who knows, perhaps a facial reaction will prompt you to ask a question, i.e. “why did you not like that section?”Tip
You can find people resembling your target audience on user testing platforms, such as our go-to, User Interviews.
PingPong is great, too, though it’s a bit pricey if you’re looking for B2C customers only.
With the “helpful content” update from Google, writing for your audience has become more important than ever. Naturally, it’s the only way to get the most engagement possible. And at the same time, almost nobody does it.
When you pair that with a good understanding of digital psychology, your content can become unstoppable.
“How To Write Your Website Content” is a 92-page ebook that aims to help you hit the ground running. We’ve compiled our 20+ years of content and copywriting experience and included our bespoke Website Messaging Workshop framework as a bonus.
Originally published Oct 17, 2022 11:07:44 AM, updated June 30 2023.