Do Your Research: 5 Lessons Learned from Researching Your Audience

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A Case Study on DEA’s JustThinkTwice Website


You’ve posted articles, tweeted about them, and stared at Google Analytics and still nothing. Why isn’t anyone reading your blog?

This happened to DEA. Their websites were failing them and valuable information about drug use and prevention were going unnoticed., their site geared towards teens, looked and read like a police press release. No one wanted to read it. DEA hired WCM for a complete redesign from CMS to content development and learned these five lessons about on the importance of researching your audience.

1. Listen to Your Audience

Project activities began with research. WCM needed to build a thorough understanding of DEA’s existing online environment, challenges, and target audiences. To get a baseline of what people liked and didn’t like, we implemented a user survey.

2. Audit for tone

Much of the original content on JTT had become muddled and heavily focused on an older audience. With teens being the primary focus, the articles needed to be rewritten for a younger audience. Our editors were careful to create a tone that was informative, but not condescending. Teens were not interested in the long-term affects of drugs. They wanted to learn more about the immediate effects on appearance, grades, and social life, and true stories of teens battling drug abuse.

3. Compare to competitors

WCM’s team analyzed sites popular among teens like and to determine what was keeping them engaged. The sites all had bright, engaging colors, unlike DEA’s original cold, blue and white color scheme. The colors were changed to a vibrant red with cool grays to create a more visually appealing site.

4. Visuals are key

Teenage users were more likely to visit the site via phone or tablet, so the sites were updated to be responsive across devices and mobile friendly. There was an emphasis on incorporating bold photos, videos and increasing the use of infographics. Content was refocused to minimize copy and get as much information out in short, punchy sentences and graphics.

5. Measure results

After the new sites went live, WCM measured the results, tracking page views and time spent on site. By refocusing the content, both page views and time spent on site doubled.

Pro Tip: Research is the key to building a successful communications plan. A combination of benchmark and panel studies, social listening, focus groups, demographic data, and market analysis will give you a comprehensive look at your client’s industry while also reducing errors, saving time and money, and supporting your plan and implementation.