It might go without saying, but strategic audience research is one of the most important foundations of any marketing strategy and campaign. With the rapid increase in volumes of data, many marketers have resorted to getting their information from second-hand, or even third-hand information. Sometimes, all they need to do is do an extensive online search or read the latest white papers put up by reputable companies. Often, these data points are important, accurate, and even give interesting insights on trends that the company should watch out for—i.e. Original Research.
However, while this might be efficient and comfortable, it might only be the second best thing that you can do for your campaigns.
By using only data taken from other sources, no matter how accurate or reputable, your team might be missing out on crucial information specifically pertaining to your company and your circumstances. There are many deep and rich insights you can get from interacting with your own customers, clients and suppliers in surveys and social media monitoring, as well as your own subject matter experts who might chime in on some points in focus groups. The information gathered from these sources can give you even further understanding not just about your business, but your industry as well.
Unfortunately, many marketers balk at the notion of curating the company’s own original research paper, banking on the wealth of knowledge of the internet instead. Often the reason is that primary research takes too much time, effort, and resources—which would be hard to explain during budget defense season..
One thing marketers have to remember is that this is the age of personalization. With the marketing department aiming to personalize experiences for their customers, it would be difficult to craft such strategies and campaigns from general data alone.
One of the problems with parsing secondary data is that it is too large as they identify trends by country or region. For white paper and general reports to make sense for the company’s marketers, there are usually intensive processes to determine whether the data is useful specifically for your company’s strategy.
What is Original Research?
While not as all-encompassing as secondary research, primary or original research can create very specific parameters that will help you understand your current situation as well as your competitors’. Your own original research can help you gain more understanding of what your company is doing, how it is faring against the larger landscape of the industry. This will help you identify your strong and weak points so that you can adjust your strategy and your campaigns accordingly.
With a micro view of the research complimenting the macro view of secondary research which is taken from other sources, both marketing and sales can be on the same page. Sales can now supplement what they know all along in dealing with customers with actual data and help them reposition their own strategies in reference to their competitors. Marketing and sales can work together and figure out what works for them and their competitors and adjust their strategies based on what story their data tells them.
More importantly, you can use your data to directly talk to your customers—something that sales will thank you for as you make their job convincing the market easier.
Influencing Marketing Campaigns
There are many advantages to creating your own study and not just relying on secondary research. The first of which is that original research fills in the gaps to get a more nuanced perspective on the pulse of the market and why they act and react the way they do. Secondly, original data also helps marketing get deeper insights regarding the developments, drivers, and threats to their industry, helping them make more informed decisions.
This is the same for customers. When you give them information, especially in the form of data, you help them make informed decisions that sales can capitalize on. While emotions are important for marketing and sales, appealing to your buyer’s logic is equally important. While emotions can attract your customers, you can help sales close a deal with reasoning that your buyer can understand and accept, and this means having data to back you up.
One of the companies that used data to their advantage in their content is Pioneer Business Systems. It was able to use information about telecoms systems, closing the deal with Elliot Lee to help upgrade and automate their phone answering system when they were apprehensive about the upgrade. Downtime, which was one of the client’s most pressing concerns, was answered by data, as well as the effectiveness of the technology in the long run.
While Pioneer could have used secondary data on the number of businesses adopting the technology, it was original research related to the company’s technology that won the customer..
Creating Your Own Original Research
Creating your own original research paper could be a daunting task, but done right, it can boost your content to supplement the emotional appeal of your marketing messages. Here are simple steps to do this and boost your strategy and content
Set a Goal for Your Research
All marketing research tools help you reach your marketing research targets. However, if your research doesn’t have a goal you could be wasting a lot of time, effort and resources. It’s like bringing a hammer to fix a loose screw. To get the right tool you must know what you want to accomplish.
Know the Information You Have and What You Need to Add
Once you know your marketing goals, you now need to have an inventory of all the information you have available. Exploratory information is important if you have no data to begin with. This open-ended information creates possibilities and gives more specific research direction.
Descriptive information hones in on your exploratory information, helping you get a deeper dive into the initial information you got from your exploratory research. It helps explain and define opinions and behaviors of respondents.
There are four key resources in any research project: time, manpower, money, and technology. These four factors can limit what you can do with your research including the population size, the comprehensiveness, and methods you can use for your research. Fit everything into the resources you have and manage your expectations.
Choose the Right Research Method
There are a number of research methods that you can employ depending on your needs:
- Surveys – analysis of large sample groups that represent your target market
- Focus Groups – a series of scripted questions or topic discussions with a small group of people representing various experts and stakeholders
- Interviews – unstructured questions, usually one-on-one, to get a deeper insight from a very small sample size
- Observation – this can also extend to social media observation where marketers look at how people act, which could be at odds with their verbal responses
- Field Trials – testing the product/service with customer feedback and response under real life conditions.
Original research cannot be discarded even in the face of millions of information readily available on the internet. For marketing campaigns to succeed nowadays, personalization is necessary. And to aid in your personalization, you have to have company information readily available that is both specific to your company and products, and to your clients’ specific interests.
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