More organisations are benefiting from data-driven decision making. Companies of all sizes are investing in a better understanding of their customers and their competitors, and using that intelligence to make informed strategy decisions – in order to win.
While detailed market research was once the preserve of large enterprises with big budgets, that’s changing fast. According to a Market Research Society Study from the Market Research Society (MRS), the sector has grown 62% since 2012 – and, crucially, in-house researcher roles have grown dramatically.
So if you’re not doing the same, you’re giving your competitors the edge.
Why is market research more integrated?
Good market research comes with a huge number of benefits. The MRS study highlighted increased efficiencies (knowing where to direct your marketing efforts for the best results), more confidence in decision making (you have the facts), and cost savings (less wasted effort).
However, market research only has real value when you invest the knowledge it gives you into customer insight, and use it to guide your decision making. As a result, companies are increasingly using market research as an integrated, day-to-day function – not a tool to be turned to sporadically.
Thankfully, new data analysis and research techniques make integrated market research more accessible than ever.
Where businesses are focusing their market research
The MRS study doesn’t just prove the value of effective market research, but shows which methods and technologies are being used most often. The study highlights the four biggest growth areas:
An increased use of data analytics allows companies to make strategic decisions based on facts. Data analytics analyses raw data about your market and allows you to highlight patterns in customer and market behaviour, enabling you to react quickly and with a competitive edge. Large online firms such as Amazon, Netflix and Google were early adopters of data analytics, but there are now a large variety of data analytic platforms available that businesses of all sizes can benefit from.
Market research is of no value unless it’s actionable. So qualitative research turns big data into smart data, going beyond the numbers to help you understand what your target market thinks – and why.
This can also include developing buyer personas – complete, clear identities for the people who make up your target market. As part of developing a buyer persona, you can make sense of:
- What they will respond to
- What pain-points they face that made them find you
- What barriers there are to conversion
- Who the critical decision maker would be
Social media/web monitoring
An effective online presence is imperative but it can be difficult to monitor and make sense of how your business is performing online. Monitoring lets businesses see which parts of their online offerings are effective, and where leads are being produced.
It’s also possible to learn how a target market interacts online, so you can tailor your online experience and marketing activities to your customers. Social monitoring platforms such as Nuvi and Sysomos monitor and analyse social interactions, giving companies valuable, actionable insights into their social presence. Similarly, Sprout Social is a great tool for companies of any size, allowing you to schedule and publish social media messages and also providing analytics.
Consumers are being bombarded with requests for feedback, with the growth in use of mobile devices reflected in the number of surveys that can be answered via a choice of devices. Technology here is important, if you say your survey can be answered via mobile, it needs to work well but as with all market research, it’s essential to ensure you ask the right questions and know how to encourage your target market to respond.
Putting market research into practice
As more companies use in-house market research, there’s just one problem – a predicted future skills gap of skilled, diligent researchers who understand the practical business role of good research.
How are you handling your market research? Do you find it easy or overwhelming? We’d love to hear from you – please share your thoughts. If you need support with any of the above areas, we would be happy to help. Call us on 01206 646 006.