Last time we took a look at how to use your market research results in advertising (you can find it if you click the “previous” button at the bottom of this page). For this blog, I’ll be talking about using market research data in…blogs!
There are several ways that you can use market research results in your blog posts to good effect:
But this assumes that you already have topics to write about. What if you’re struggling to come up with topics, or worried about doing so in the future when you’ve written about the initial 3 or 4 topics that come naturally to you? Even getting started can be tough. A lot of people fear running out of topics to write about, and this will be daunting enough to put them off permanently. If they are put off in this way, they will never discover how useful data can be to support their arguments, or to stimulate debate.
The good news is that your market research can help you with both of these problems. Maybe you’ve run out of topics that you want to discuss, or maybe nothing particularly newsworthy has happened in the last few days that inspire you enough to write about it. If you find yourself in this position, just ask yourself a couple of questions:
Question 1: Is there anything that you take for granted, but that you think is too dull to write about?
Maybe you’ve got used to your internet connection being unreliable, but not bothered to look into it as it usually works well enough. Perhaps you’ve become accustomed to rude staff at your local supermarket, or would rather not think about how long you spend stuck in traffic each day. In themselves, these are dull topics, and you would never consider writing hundreds of words about them.
However, what if you were to pose a few questions around these topics to a hundred or two hundred people, from different countries? Suddenly, the topic starts to look more interesting – is it just you with the unreliable internet connection? Does everyone else dislike buying their groceries? Are the roadworks in your local area truly the worst in the world? How does this make you feel, and do you ever change your behaviour to take these problems into account? How do these results differ by gender, age or country? Your only problem now might be that you are writing too much!
Question 2: Is there a topic that you have written about in a previous blog where people’s views may have changed?
Revisiting a previous blogging topic may seem lazy, but if you can put a new twist on it, there’s an opportunity to examine it more deeply than you did before. Using your own free market research data is a good way of doing this. Blogs tend to focus on their writer’s views, even if the writer’s position on the subject is neutral. Data however can provide the writer with a fresh insight, giving them a completely new, alternative angle at which to tackle the topic.
You can use the method outlined above where you try to analyse your own viewpoints to see if you take anything for granted. But you can also try to be a bit more aggressive by actively challenging your own opinions. For instance, you could try taking your three or four key statements from your blog post (that best summarise your arguments and the messages that you hoped readers would take away), and ask your market research respondents to what extent they agree or disagree with them. If a large number of people disagree with you, don’t take offence, but acknowledge it and try to explain why you think people are disagreeing with you. If you have in-depth access to the data, you can even analyse the responses to see if it is the same group of respondents who are disagreeing with you on each of your key statements, or if it varies. Is it significant that some respondents agree with you on one of your conclusions, but that these same respondents disagree with you on another?
You could also revisit one of your older blog posts that used market research data in the first place by carrying out market research with the same questions as you did before. In the market research industry these are usually known as “trackers”, and are generally quite easy to write about. If you find comparing the results of two different questions challenging, then you should hopefully find comparing the results of the same question a little easier! Don’t be afraid to remove any questions that you feel didn’t really work last time, and replace them with new questions. But remember, if you change any of the questions in any way (such as changing the question text or removing an answer), it might make it more difficult for you to confidently compare the data as truly ‘like for like’.
So just asking those two questions should inspire you to think of an angle where market research can help you write a new blog post. There’s no reason of course why you couldn’t use your own free market research for the three uses outlined at the beginning of this article. But more importantly, being able to fall back on this skill will mean that you never run out of blogging material: if you can think of a question to ask, the chances are that different people will have different answers. And comparing these differences, even on just a basic level, should give you plenty to write about.
With a bit of practice, you can become more skilled in analysing statistics and writing about what you think the results means. And it can mean never running out of things to write about.
Next time I’ll be writing about the ways in which you can include your own free market research in your business plan.