Up close and personal with Rebecca Maynes
#CICM2016 is just around the corner (April 17th and 18th) and we caught up with Rebecca Maynes, Manager of Content Marketing and Research at Mediative, who will be speaking at the event, to find out a bit more about what attendees to her session can expect.
Q. What will you be talking about in your session?
I’m going to be discussing the importance of research in digital marketing. Specifically how search behavior research and buyer behavior research can be used to better reach and engage your potential customers.
Successful digital marketers are intimately familiar with their audience – they know who they are, where they go, what they do, what they are looking for, and it’s research that provides many of these insights. When an advertiser knows that much about their potential customers, they are able to provide truly personal advertising messages and offers that the viewer will not be able to resist!
Q. How does research help grow your clients’ businesses?
Mediative is a leading digital media agency – we offer performance solutions, display advertising, and data solutions to enterprise clients, as well as offering monetization of sites to publishers. But we also conduct research to support the products and services we offer to our clients and to validate that what we are ultimately doing is working. We do this through research and user experience testing.
In our research, we take a large enough sample size of people who are representative of the general population, and observe how they navigate the web, make online searches, how they move towards a purchase. It’s more general research that can be used by almost all business to increase online visibility and drive more leads and customers. This is our thought leadership that we are so well known in the digital space for.
User experience testing is much more specific to a particular website, and many of our clients employ our services to determine what it is that visitors to their website are expecting, how they navigate the site, and any roadblocks to conversion that they experience. By understanding in depth what a user is experiencing when they come to a client’s website, we are able to suggest improvements that will make the path to conversion much more direct, and free of confusion for visitors.
Q. What’s the future of marketing research? Which technology is coming up and what will we be able to observe in the next years?
We are already seeing how technology is opening up the research space with new ways of observing user behaviour, such as eye-tracking glasses. Where before we were restricted to eye-tracking sessions in our labs or at a client’s site only, we can now use these glasses to take the lab experience on-location, and also offline. We are able to observe how a customer in a retail store, for example, interacts with the signage around them, what captures their attention, what do they see and, sometimes more importantly, what do they not see. Retailers can use these insights to ensure the store layout and signage is optimal for purchase flow.
We are also seeing the availability of technologies that can complement eye-tracking in order to determine emotional and neurological insights in addition to eye-tracking data. These combined technologies can create a truly holistic overview of the behaviours of the user, and help marketers to understand why they are doing what they are doing, and how they are feeling about it at the time.
Q. Digital marketing is constantly evolving, with new tools, apps, ways of sharing information. How can marketing research help keep up to speed and adapt to an ever-changing environment?
It’s true, digital marketing is constantly evolving, but is it the changing technology that drives a change in user behavior, or vice versa? I believe it’s a combination of both, and to stay on top of the changes, research needs to be an ongoing process within a marketer’s toolkit.
For example, Mediative conducted a study 10 years ago that looked at how users search on Google. Since that research was conducted, Google’s search engine results page layout has significantly changed, and as a result, so has search behaviour. However, one of the big observations that we made when we conducted the research again in 2014, was that people now scan a results page with their eyes far more vertically than before, when it was more horizontal scanning. We believe that is as a result of the use of mobile phones for internet browsing – the fast, vertical scanning pattern on a mobile has crossed over into desktop scanning, altering the way people look at listings results. And this change in user behavior means businesses must react, and take a different approach to their digital marketing strategies.
Q. Based on your experience in the industry, can you suggest any research ‘best practices’?
The biggest suggestion I have is to always keep your customer top of mind in any type of testing you do. Try to emulate the search environment as much as possible, and let people’s natural search habits appear. For example, when conducting user experience testing, it’s always great to include some research of website visitors natural searching tendencies in with specific tasks. Without any direction, a lot of insight can be discovered such as where people look, what captures their attention and what they click on. Specific tasks are great for identifying roadblocks to a conversion, but putting yourself in the shoes of a browser is also eye-opening.
When conducting research it’s always best to keep the tests and the entire testing period short (we try to keep it to 30 minutes max). People can lose attention after this time, and just “want it to be over” so speed up their responses, rather than behaving naturally!
Finally, include ‘cleanser’ tasks when you are conducting research. These are tasks that take the participants mind somewhere else completely so that when you are back to conducting a task as part of your research, they come at it with a fresh focus again.
Q. When and where can people hear your presentation?
I will be presenting at #CIMC2016 at 11.15am on Thursday April 14th! Look forward to seeing you in Squamish BC!