Customer focus groups are a good way to help inform companies when it comes to overall messaging and identifying important customer benefits (not just features that "we" think are cool). But this takes a lot of time and resource, and although rich in qualitative data, it is often limited when it comes to the issue of sample size and statistical significance. On top of this it can be very expensive, even more-so during times when there is barely enough budget to cover basic marketing costs.
Although not a substitute for focus groups, keyword testing is a good way to help inform messaging. It can help validate whether the right words are being used to describe or even categorize a type of product/resource in the language that your customers are using (as opposed to internal jargon or opinion).
A few benefits of doing keyword testing, include:
- High reach, with actionable quantitative results
- Simple to set up and quick to perform
- Easy monitoring (and tweaking if needed)
- Quick, reliable results (two weeks of data is often more than adequate)
- Much less investment compared to full blown customer research (tests I've done have added zero to little additional cost to the overall search program)
Scenario 1: "We should change this product category name from x to y because that is what our competitors are calling it"
1. Sponsor both keyword variations in your PPC program. Even better, throw in some additional variations to test also.
2. Monitor the search volume that is being generated on each variation. This will tell you which variation people search on most when thinking about that product category.3. Check the click-through rate (CTR) and click volume on each variation. The higher the CTR and volume, the more that keyword is resonating with the voice of the customer.
Scenario 2: "Our customer literature descriptions are all over the place - sometimes we call them reports, sometimes guides, sometimes white papers... but they are all the same thing. I vote for just calling everything reports from now on"
1. This scenario screams A/B copy testing. Try taking a PPC campaign focused in the "Learn" phase to test something like this out. For example, one that already calls out a specific call-to-action in the adcopy.
2. Simply swap out the different variations, whilst keeping the rest of the keywords and adcopy the same. For example, "Download your free report" vs. "Download your free guide" vs. "Download your free white paper".
3. See which adcopy version Google serves up the most to learn which version resonates with customers, paying attention to impression and CTR numbers.