While now might not be the optimum time to achieve sign off for a research project, you still need to make decisions that inform your marketing strategy and promotional activity, so what to do? There are other resources available to organisations and marketers seeking knowledge to dictate decision making and support a new initiative or campaign. Here we explore where to turn and how to approach research to improve marketing performance.
Does it matter that my marketing isn’t research-led?
Quite simply, research-led marketing saves companies time and money by taking the guess work out of marketing strategy, direction and priorities. Creating marketing plans without research can lead to dead ends and frustration that the plan isn’t ‘working’. And as marketers, while we have more experience to lend to the guessing game of what to do to solve a specific situation or problem, nothing beats garnering clear, factual understanding to make decisions from. You might want to focus on a market, a product or a particular service, whichever it is, the fundamental purpose of research is to take you from “we think” to “we know”.
Where does your organisation get information from?
Ideally, primary research; we’re talking surveys, interviews and observations commissioned or self-managed and owned by the organisation. Primary research is the most valuable data for an organisation to get information from; it’s bespoke, it’s relevant to a moment in time and it’s directly related to your market. But the research in and of itself is not enough. The data simply informs your approach to develop more robust thinking. This type of information is invaluable as marketers, taking the guess work out of decision making and giving confidence to direction, saving time and money.
But while organisations have frozen budgets, and while your customers are probably behaving in a way that’s not typical of the past or representative of the future, there are other ways to gather and dissect intel for insight.
How to collect data:
Most organisations have access to an abundance of data that can be utilised to address a specific question. Prior research findings, publicly available data and existing business data from CRMs and sales statistics are all great resources. Published white papers and research findings can also provide accurate information to give greater confidence to your decision making.
Our top 4 resources:
1. Save the Australian Bureau of Statistics to your favourites.
(For UK stats see the Office for National Statistics, USA it's data.gov and for the EU Open Data portal.)
2. Marketing and technology platforms - the likes of Hubspot and Mailchimp - share an abundance of data as part of their content marketing strategies.
3. Google Trends enables you to “explore what the world is searching”.
4. Kantar is a “data, insights and consulting company” that shares insights from their research across social media, advertising, consumer and shopper behaviour and public opinion.
Benchmarking your marketing performance against published best practice or metrics can help you paint a picture of how your brand, organisation or business unit is performing against industry standards, and perhaps highlight which areas of your marketing needs some attention to improve its performance.
Before you lose yourself down the rabbit hole of research, make sure that you’re looking for the right information by having a clear objective. Do this by starting with a clear question that you are looking to answer. Once you have this established, know the ‘sub-questions’ that you’ll need to answer to establish enough confidence to make decisions. The tighter the brief or question you want answered, the more tailored and targeted you can be in your reading, research and analysis of the data available to you.
We hope that this provides a little insight into how to progress without the guess work. To find out more about PIER’s research offering to inform your marketing, or to learn how we’ve helped other businesses, please do get in touch.