At interact we’ve now helped businesses generate more than 9 million leads using quizzes. Along the way some very distinct patterns have emerged that make up the difference between a quiz that builds a business and one that is just annoying and wastes the company’s money. Below are the top 5 marketing strategies that really set effective marketing apart from wasted time and money.
1. Think about what the customer wants
Every day I speak with large, very powerful companies who come to interact wanting to make quizzes. Without fail, many of them have ideas of how to formulate a quiz based on the information they need to collect about their audience. They’ll come up with quiz concepts like “How Strong is Your Cloud Infrastructure?” or “Is Your Marketing Effective?” That will without a doubt collect the information needed for the company, after all if someone’s cloud isn’t strong that’s a good lead for a cloud infrastructure company, if someone’s marketing is ineffective, that’s a great lead for a marketing firm.
Only problem is no one wants to take those quizzes. In fact, the only reaction your likely to get from a quiz like those is anger from people who see right through your scheme and don’t want to be your next victim of data collection where you’ll spam them until kingdom come.
I see the logic behind why brands want to make quizzes this way, there’s pressure from above to get more “data” about your customers, and you’ve heard that quizzes can help with that. The issue is that the entire strategy behind doing it this way is built around what “You” as the company want, not what the customer wants.
Now with quizzes, there are really two things the customer “wants” which are to talk about themselves and learn about themselves. I won’t go into exactly why these are things people want, I do that in detail here, but the gist of it is that people like to talk about themselves and learn about themselves as innate human wants for inclusion and connection.
So let’s go through how you can turn things around and make the two quiz example I mentioned about into quizzes that are about the person taking the quiz getting what they want instead of the company creating them trying to get their data.
Instead of “How Strong is Your Cloud Infrastructure?” it would be “What’s Your IT Personality?”
Instead of “How Effective is Your Marketing?” it would be “What Kind of Marketer Are You?”
Each of those two new quiz concepts achieves the two reasons that people take quizzes. You’re going to have to talk about yourself if I’m going to tell you what your personality is, and I’m going to have to help you learn something about yourself because you’re going to find out your personality type.
Now these quizzes can still give the company the same useful data about the quiz taker that the first version does, but that comes as secondary. For example, if you find out someone’s IT personality is the “Just get it done” person, then you might insinuate that they don’t pay careful attention to building redundancy into their IT infrastructure, and you can recommend redundancy products to them. If someone gets the marketing personality of “The Social Media Miracle Worker” then you might know that they don’t love creating long-form content and you could recommend services to augment their marketing based on that.
You can still get what you want as the company if you spend the vast majority of your effort figuring out what the customer wants. Remember “You can get what you want by helping others get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
2. Spend time knowing where your audience “hangs out”
People always ask me where the best place to promote their quiz is, and the answer is wherever your audience is already connecting with you and hanging out. This one is actually really hard because it goes beyond just reading articles and googling things. The answer isn’t always obvious either, for example, we thought for a long time that marketers “hang out” all the time on marketing blogs but when we guest posted on all the marketing blogs they still didn’t come to us.
Then we figured out that marketers tend to “hang out” in private Facebook mastermind groups where they collaborate with 5-10 other marketers in really small groups. Sometimes there are larger groups or bigger masterminds, but for the most part they are super small. So in order to grow our product we had to start approaching those groups individually and partnering with them to “get in” rather than blasting out content and messages on blogs and what-not. Now obviously this is a blog post so it is necessary to have a multi-faceted approach, but you have to understand where those places are.
In the interest of making this post valuable here are some of the ways I’ve learned where our audience “hangs out”
-Using Google intent: When I get stuck on ideas for where to find customers I’ll go to Google and type in a generic term like “make a quiz” then scroll down to the bottom and see what other types of things people are searching for. What then usually happens is going down somewhat of a rabbit trail path towards whatever topic is being discussed. If I follow the trail long enough it will lead to a place where I see other marketers engaging. This sounds superfluous, but the places you find right away are too generic and probably being heavily advertised, what you want to get to is the places where people really spend time, not just whichever website has the most money.
-Using keywordtool.io: I honestly just started using this tool a few weeks ago, but it does a lot of the things I’ve had to do manually for years. You can type in a generic search term and the tool shows you related terms, questions people ask about that term, and
-Listening: It is so frustrating to ask people “Where do you get your marketing advice from?” and get the same exact answer every time of “I don’t know, I just like come up with stuff” or something completely useless like that. The truly fascinating thing about the way we learn things is that it’s often completely indirect. I don’t remember that I heard something interesting in passing, then Googled it, then saw a friend post about it, then was reminded of it by a billboard on the freeway and that’s why I learned a thing, so I really can’t tell you how I know the things I know a lot of the time.
What I can tell you though, is a story about how I got to you, the steps I took to be having a conversation with you about buying your product, and those are the things that companies really need to know. I spend hours on the phone just listening to people tell me about their marketing troubles and frustrations, they journey they went on to get to talking with me, and in those hours of listening I unearth the random places where those marketers are looking for solutions to their tasks.
IMPORTANT: Once you find out where your audience hangs out, don’t go shouting at them about what you have on your site. I still painfully remember when I thought marketers were on blogs a lot so I went around commenting and pitching interact. I got called out on it by one of the site owners who I really looked up to and felt like such an idiot. (side note, that site signed up for interact recently and on that day I felt vindicated). What did work instead was to approach those same website owners with guest blog post ideas and take the time to write meaningful posts for them. It took way longer, but those relationships have come in amazingly useful over the years even though the guest blog posts themselves didn’t do a whole lot for interact.
What I’m saying is you can’t force your way in, you’ve got to earn it.
3. People listen to their peers a lot more than your company
This one we had to learn the *Really* hard way. For years, like an actual two full years, we tried to pitch the idea of using quizzes for marketing to our target audience with stone-wall response. No one wanted to hear about a new idea from the company that invented/is selling the new idea. The conversations we did have were borderline hostile and we made maybe 10 sales in two years, spending over $200k to do it (our customers pay an average of $50 a month so that was not worth it by any means).
What we did instead that did work was turn to influencer marketing, where we partner with the people who are already speaking to our audience to spread our message. Influencer marketing is one of the most under-rated methods in my opinion because you can bargain with influencers rather than having to pay up front, and they’ve already won the trust of their audience so you don’t have to change people’s opinions on things (which is near impossible to do).
I shared our exact method for how to do influencer marketing on our blog, but I’ll give you the Sparknotes here just to break it down.
What you’re doing with influencer marketing is identifying the people who your audience already listens to for advice (agencies, consultants, assistants, etc. ) and partnering with those influencers to share your product. You will have to bargain with them to do it, and you can do that by offering your product for free to the influencer to try before they recommend it, offering an affiliate commission for any sales they send you, or both.
I originally stumbled on influencer marketing after reading about how Adidas has hundreds of thousands of micro-influencers around the world who post new shoe drops which accounts for some crazy percentage of their sales, like 30%. These aren’t even big influencers, they have like 1,000 followers apiece, but those followers actually listen to what the people post and take the recommendations seriously. This works way better than massive influencers who sell products all the time and have lost the trust of their audience to some extent, and if you’re a smaller company you don’t need a massive budget to get started with the smaller influencers.
4. The customer is the customer’s #1 interest
I used to think that marketers in companies were trying to be better marketers, and then I realized that many of them were mostly just trying to move themselves forward. This is a jaded view of things but in reality it often rings true. If a marketer is working in a large company their goals are probably to move up and impress the boss, if they work in a small company or are their own boss their goals most likely revolve around increasing revenue and making more money.
What that means is whoever you’re selling to probably isn’t buying your products or services for anything but themselves. If you sell shoes, they’re probably buying them to look good (hence why every clothing commercial features people looking good and being admired), if you sell business services then people are probably buying to make themselves richer or more successful.
Everything is a means to an end, and understanding that really helps in crafting your marketing message and sales proposition.
Now I’m going to contradict myself and provide an alternate viewpoint. There is another side to this which is that some people truly are interested in bettering themselves, learning, and serving others. That’s the much more positive viewpoint on things and the one that I still hold onto dearly. That’s why at interact we create so much content geared towards having a positive conversation using quizzes and we go deep into the logistics of writing good questions, helping the customer find what they need, and serving the customer.
In some ways people will become what you expect them to be. If you expect your customer to have vain pursuits of wealth and admiration, they will. If you expect them to be upstanding, do the right thing, and better themselves, then they’ll do that.
To stop going back and forth, the point I’m trying to make here is that you want to understand people’s motivations, why are they using your product? it’s most likely not just because they want to do the very specific thing you offer, it probably fits into a much larger picture. Understand your place in the picture and your messaging will connect with your customers a lot more.
5. Listening to your users is the best way to spend your time
I sat on a very painful call for over an hour at a loud Starbucks listening to an interact user rip apart our interface. She went line-by-line telling me why we were naming things wrong, how some of our quiz categories were offensive, and how she couldn’t understand why we were arranging the builder the way we were.
What happened after that call was I got mad because I knew she was right but didn’t want to admit it. It hurts to admit that you’re wrong and don’t know what’s best for your own product.
Once I let that go and dropped my ego, I listened to what she had to say and decided to do a face-lift on the site, which mostly consisted of changing terminology and making the most common elements more easily accessible to users. We put together a “quick menu” that simplified everything and used the terminology she recommended. Within weeks we saw a huge jump in site usage and upgrades to paid plans by customers who were now using the app a lot more.
Now I make it a habit to spend lots of phone calls just listening to people talk about using our product and having them screenshare to show me how they use it and what they find difficult/useful about it. These conversations have led to many of our biggest breakthroughs and when new customers tell us “your product knew exactly what I wanted” that’s not because we’re some sort of mind-reading product geniuses, it’s because we listen to what others have to say and build a product based on what they tell us.
Honestly if you click out of this article and take one thing with you it’s this. Go talk with a customer or user or potential user, and by talk I mean listen. Let them tell you why they use your service, what they like, what frustrates them, only guid the conversation as much as necessary to keep it talking about the industry, don’t even worry if it veers off of your product as the main focus.
You’ll learn more in that time listening then you will in months of trial and error trying to guess what people want.
We’ve learned a lot about marketing strategy after helping our customers generate 9 million leads, both from our perspective and from our customers’ viewpoint. Hopefully these strategies help you avoid some of the common pitfalls that we’ve experienced and that I’ve witnessed happen countless times over the last 10 years.