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Research for copywriters: introducing VOC and VOM research

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

The best brand messages don’t always come from your copywriters. They come from your customers. Discover how Voice-of-Customer and Voice-of-Market research can bring your brand messaging to life.

Illustration showing a diverse group of people sitting in a focus group - to demonstrate the concept of research for copywriters.

Assumptions. We’re all guilty of them. That we can safely leave the house without an umbrella. That our partner is going to put the bins out. And that we know what our customers want.

But you know what they say. When we assume, we make an ASS out of U and ME. It’s corny but when it comes to copywriting, it’s true. Make an assumption and you’re making a mistake.


Why is it wrong to make assumptions in copywriting?

Our reasons for making purchases are highly personal. As marketers, we like to think we are intuitive and empathetic. But we can’t assume we know every reason for every customer.

Our assumptions may be clouded by our personal experience or our professional knowledge. And they might not accurately reflect the needs, preferences, or behaviors of our target market.

If we rely on reckonings, gut feels, and assumptions, we can create copy that misses the mark. We might overlook the real motive for people buying our products. Or a cultural reason that makes people prefer us over competitors. Perhaps there’s a USP we haven’t spotted. Or even a use for our product we didn’t know about!

Great copy makes the reader feel seen. The brand gets them, their pains, and what they want to achieve - whether that’s a kid-free cruise, or the perfect at-home pedicure.

The idea is to connect with people on a personal level. And how can you do that if you haven’t even talked to them?

If you get your copywriting wrong, you can experience low conversion rates, reduced brand reputation, and poor ROI from your investment in marketing.


Four types of research for copywriters

Good copywriters base their copy on research - whether that’s research provided to them by clients or research they conduct themselves. If they’re conducting the research themselves, it could be original research - with potential and actual customers - or it could be ‘desk’ research - looking at existing sources of insights.

Voice-of-market research

Voice-of-market research is when you seek out the opinions of people who are in the market for your product but who haven’t bought it (yet!). This tells you about the problems the market is trying to solve and why.

For example, imagine you sell resource management software targeting project managers. Get onto Reddit and look at what operations directions are complaining about. Are they venting about how difficult it is the schedule resources? Are they looking for tips to improve project forecasts? What size of business has the biggest share of problems.

This can reveal customer pain points to address in your marketing copy.

Voice-of-customer research

Voice-of-Customer research is when you solicit the opinion of people who have bought your product.

You might commission a customer focus group, send out a survey, or have one-to-one interviews with customers. Ask questions about what life was like before your product, why they chose your product, and how life is better now.

You can’t always take voice-of-customer research at face value. People may assume there are ‘right or wrong’ answers and try to second guess what you want to hear. Dig deep in one-to-one interviews to get to the real truth. And design surveys to ensure your questions aren’t leading people to specific responses.

Another way to get VOC insights - which may be more honest than research you’ve commissioned - is through desk research - for example, looking at online reviews of your product.

Competitor research

Competitor research is when you look at what your competitors are doing and saying in their marketing - and what their customers are saying online. This helps copywriters avoid existing messaging and differentiate you in the market. It can also alert your copywriter to any gaps in your messaging - or any ways that your product is preferable to your rivals.

A/B testing

A/B testing is when copywriters create two versions of the same copy and test it with an audience to see which works best. The copy will have a single specific difference - like a different headline or call to action. They’ll measure which version performs better in terms of delivering a desired action (such as email open rate or clicking on a CTA button). This data will then inform the final version of the copy, as well as future approaches.


10 sources of Voice-of-Customer and Voice-of-Market research

1. Customer surveys: Surveys sent out via email, in store, or even microsurveys with a single question in a pop-up or text. You can also use market research firms and apps to administer surveys for you.

2. Customer interviews: Conduct one-on-one interviews with individual customers to find out how they use your product and what they love about it.

3. Focus groups: Gather together a representative section of your target market and design questions to get their feedback on a range of products in the market, including yours.

4. Feedback forms: Add feedback forms to your website, social media, and in physical products to encourage customers to share their views with you.

5. Online forums: Take a deep dive into forum discussions related to your industry, product, or target market. This is especially helpful to reach and understand people who aren’t yet customers.

6. Online reviews: There’s no shortage on online review sites, depending on your business sector. For example, Amazon, TripAdvisor, CheckATrade, Google Reviews, etc.

7. Social listening: Look at social media channels to see what customers - and non-customers - are saying. This helps you understand customer needs, preferences, and honest views.

8. Customer support logs: Find out what customers are discussing with your support team - compliments, complaints, questions, feedback. They’re can all craft compelling copy.

9. Customer advisory panels: Create advisory panels with select customers who can provide ongoing feedback.

10. Voice-of-Customer tools: You can use specialist VoC software to collect and analyze customer feedback - for example, sending out surveys, adding website pop-ups, social media monitoring, etc.


The benefits of Voice-of-Customer research in copywriting

Voice-of-Customer research can make your copywriting more relevant, relatable, and successful. If you’re lucky, you’ll get gold nuggets that you can lift and use verbatim in your marketing copy.

VOC and VOM research lets you

  • Pinpoint pain points more accurately

  • Understand the features and benefits people need and love

  • Find actual phrases your market uses and relates to

  • Bring diverse voices into your marketing campaigns

  • Position yourself favorably compared to rivals

  • Develop unique messaging that converts

This means you are more likely to engage and convert prospects into customers, which drives sales, revenue, and growth targets. Smart move, savvy marketer!


Photo of copywriter - Libby Marks - leading against a glass wall in a modern office, smiling and wearing a fabulous leopard print dress.

About the author

Libby Marks is an award-winning copywriter and content marketer. After 15+ years in marketing and communications, she escaped the 9-to-5 and started Write on Tyne.

Write on Tyne is a small content and copywriting agency dedicated to making marketing managers' lives easier.

We provide top-notch copy for campaigns, content marketing, and websites - underpinned by expertise in marketing strategy and SEO.



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