By Matthew Bertram, Head of Strategy at EWR Digital & Co-Host of “The Unknown Secrets of Internet Marketing Podcast.”
Data-driven decision-making (DDDM) is just a fancy term for making intelligent decisions based on what your data is telling you.
Modern market research combines DDDM with advanced technology to uncover even more granular data, which can be used to personalize market messaging and find potential areas for growth.
Traditionally, market research encompassed four major disciplines: primary, secondary, quantitative and qualitative. However, as technology and marketing have become sophisticated, we’ve divided many of these types of research and insights into individual processes that allow for more granular data collection.
So instead of relying on primary research from focus groups and surveys, we can uncover much of the same information through brand research, keyword research and competitive analysis.
We’ll talk about these forms of market research and more, as well as some tips to improve each research process to help you master the process of data collection and analysis.
1. Competitive Analysis
When businesses have nowhere else to start, they can always scrap data about their competitors.
Competitive analysis can benchmark future performance and inspire marketing, advertising, pricing and product development ideas.
In SEO, competitive research involves tracking metrics, such as keywords, online traffic, sales volume and advertising cost-per-click.
However, competitive research could include looking at your competitor’s online reputation, product pricing or any other variable important to your business.
To improve your competitive research, I suggest investing in the right tools, such as:
• SE Ranking
Nevertheless, most of the strategies and tools we outline in this guide can be used against competitors for greater detail.
2. Brand Sentiment
Brand sentiment measures how well customers perceive your brand. Generally, your brand sentiment will encompass your brand’s
• Awareness: How many people are aware of your brand?
• Loyalty: How loyal are people to your brand?
• Advocacy: How likely are people to recommend your brand?
• Penetration: How successful is your brand at penetrating its market vertical?
• Value: How valuable is your brand in nominal terms?
Again, technology is your best friend, and I recommend using tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social that measure your brand’s sentiment on social media and across the web. Soliciting customer feedback and reading reviews are also great indicators of your brand’s perception.
Depending on the size of your brand and its age, pick the right metrics you want to track and then map out your brand visually against your competitors to see how well your brand stacks up and where weaknesses lie.
3. Customer Decision-Making
Customer journey or decision-making research tells why customers make purchases and why they don’t.
More specifically, this research speaks to their
• Purchasing habits
• Demographic information
• Hobbies and interests
• Media habits
Understanding these behavioral, demographic and psychographic parameters allows you to create personalized marketing campaigns and incentives that can increase sales.
First, gather data through a CRM like HubSpot or Salesforce that allows for customer journey mapping. Second, consult your analytics using tools like Google Analytics or Search Console that allows for on-page behavioral reporting and attribution data so you can understand what led to a buyer’s purchase.
Again, primary research tools like surveys and direct feedback can also help tremendously.
Additionally, tools like Meta’s Audience Insights have historically always been a data gold mine for segmenting and building the right audience lists for your business.
4. Customer Segmentation
This leads us to another important consideration: market segmentation. Researching the right customer segments to market to can help you increase ROI significantly.
You can use many of the same tools from the previous point to build a buyer persona based on geographic, psychographic and demographic data. For example, HubSpot and Meta’s Audience Insights are great for uncovering much of this data and building audience lists you can export to other programs.
To save time experimenting with different audience segments, use surveys to help you uncover more granular data regarding audience behavior and interests.
5. Market Messaging
Surveys and customer feedback are also incredibly important for monitoring campaign messaging from any advertising/marketing campaigns you are actively running. This research shows how well your business connects with its customers via messaging impact and reach.
For online advertising, use metrics like impressions, click-through rate, CPC and conversion ratio to show you how far your ads are reaching and how well they resonate.
On the organic side, tracking keyword rankings, on-page traffic, CTR and conversion rates can tell you if your marketing messaging is driving people to your site and whether they are making purchases.
6. Product Pricing
Finally, the last two forms of market research involve product pricing and development. Pricing is fairly straightforward and measures what customers are willing to pay for a product based on its utility.
To accurately test product pricing, conduct A/B tests with special plans, including tiered pricing that restricts some features or by scaling pricing based on different customer segments, such as separating plans between administrators and users.
Run tests and compare data with competitors to reach appropriate product pricing.
7. Product Development
Product development research tests how well a product is perceived by its intended audience. Sometimes this may incorporate usability testing, which tests how effective the product is for customers.
However, most product development research involves primary research via focus groups, surveys, one-on-one interviews and direct customer feedback. The idea is to hear how customers perceive the product directly to improve innovation and development.
The key to proper product development research is to account for every variable, such as:
• Customer research (interests, hobbies and perspectives)
• Market share (existing competition, product lifecycle, market risks, growth potential)
• Business case (problems solved, unique selling proposition)
• Marketing (promotion, pricing, proper messaging)
By harnessing the power of technology and improving your market research processes, you can position yourself to compete better and achieve more success within any given marketplace.