Originally posted on Curated Medium.
Understanding your customer, and being able to leverage that understanding to build trust between you and them, is the driving force behind any good marketing team. But how do you know what is prompting your customers’ decisions?
Well, you can gather a lot of customer research data from focus groups and surveys to start with, but that can only get you so far. What you need to fully understand your customer, is a ‘big picture’ view of the environment they are living in. After all, how can you market to an audience if you don’t know what factors — online and offline — are influencing their behaviour?
That’s where trend analysis comes in. In traditional marketing terms, a trend (or market trend) analysis looks at the political, economic, social, technical, environmental and legal factors affecting the market you’re operating in, and how they affect your business. But this framework (known as the PESTEL framework) can also help you understand what’s making your customers tick. Not all the factors are going to apply all the time, but if you use it as a guideline, and apply the PESTEL framework to how it affects your target customer, you can begin to build a picture of what’s going on in their head.
Arguably, one of the biggest factors affecting your customer will be social. This is because popular culture can fall under this category, and popular culture has the power to feed into a collective consumer consciousness.
Let’s have a look at how we can apply this. Take, for example, the social trend towards opening up conversations around mental health. The past few years, mental health has become a topic many are far more aware of than they ever have been, and this presents an opportunity to connect with your audience on a topic they care about — if you can find a way for it to be relevant to both your business and your target customer.
We worked with a popular eye care brand that — having recognised the rise in awareness and conversation around mental health — wanted to find out if it affected their customers. By applying the framework, as well as some pretty nifty researching and digging around the internet, we uncovered a range of insights showing that mental health had a definite impact on vision and eyesight. Such as some scientific research that had recently discovered that depression could alter visual perception.
And here is where the fun starts, because the next step, as any good content marketer will tell you, is finding out how that translates into online search behaviour.
By layering search data on top of your PESTEL market and consumer trend analyses, you can quantify — in terms of search volumes and interest — how much of an impact any given topic is having on the collective consciousness.
There are loads of tools out there that can help you pull all sorts of search data from Google and other search engines. They can help you work out anything from the seasonality of specific topics and keywords to spikes in interest in certain search themes and terms.
The data I find most interesting though, whenever I’m doing a trend analysis, is the data you can get from search listening. This refers to the process of analysing the most popular questions people ask Google about your topic or area of interest.
This data can give you so much insight into, and information about, potential customers. Looking at the linguistics and types of questions people type into Google, as well as volumes of search terms, you can identify your customers’ key concerns.
You can find out how much confidence they have in themselves, how much value they think they are getting for their money, you can even find out how they feel about your brand. Then it’s just a question of measuring changes over time.
You may discover that searches into ear protection are highest in the summertime, and then experience another peak at the end of October — coinciding with music festival season and Bonfire Night respectively. Or you might know that searches about sunglasses drive a lot of traffic to your website in the lead-up to summer, but discover there is a similar trend into searches about protecting your eyes while skiing — which you could be capitalising on.
The beauty of trend analysis is that it can inform so many parts of your business. My focus is on how it feeds into a marketing strategy, but you can use trend insights to launch a new brand, make the case for stocking a new product, or designing an awareness campaign. The world is your oyster.
- Key things to remember:
- Know the difference between a trending topic and a growing trend that’s here to stay
- A trend only matters to you if it affects your target customer — don’t force your customers into a box just to match the trend research
- Monitor, measure and adjust according to your findings — people’s behaviours evolve quicker than we care to admit, be prepared to change with them or get left behind
If you’d like to know more about our approach to trend analysis, get in touch through our website today!