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5 Things I Learned from Working in Market Research

Editor’s note: this post is by guest blogger, Corey Dall, who served as marketing manager for FGI Research for 2 years before starting her tenure as the digital marketing manager for a local bank. This is her reflection on her time here and some of the lessons she learned from our industry thought leaders.iStock 000006381331XSmall

I’ve been lucky these past 2 years, not only because I worked for a company nominated one of the best in the Triangle and the team here is like family, but because I learned a lot about marketing (in my day-to-day work) and about market research.

In light of this, I wanted to share with you some of the tips and advice I’ll be taking with me in the next step of my professional journey.

1. Ask the right questions

It’s truly staggering to think of the ways good, reliable research can shape a company’s future. But if you don’t proactively seek it out, you could end up making apologies and potentially back tracking on decisions, costing your business millions of dollars (Gap logo redesign, anyone?).

So whether I’m handling concept tests in the future, or brainstorming ways to boost customer satisfaction and retention, I’ll begin first by asking: what research can we do to make sure our conclusions are the right ones for this business? What are we missing? What changes will make the biggest impact (and how can we prove it)?

The right questions at the start make all the difference.

2. Qualitative research is really neat

It’s no surprise to me that online qualitative research is the next big thing in this industry. For example, in an insight community (aka MROC) platform, which looks like the social sharing sites we’re all used to, you can gather verbatim phrases and keywords to use in campaigns and in future pieces of contents.

You can also collect pictures, videos, and reactions to images, making it easy to shop, eat, or see inside the homes of your consumers. For a marketer like me, this stuff is a goldmine, whether it’s for testing web usability, ad impact, or the viability of a product.

And if that wasn’t enough, good MROC platforms allow for a little bit of quantitative research as well, in the form of quick polls or open-ended responses to carefully crafted questions.

How cool is that? 

3. Persona development is a must

In the market research world, segmentation analysis is how a company can craft its personas from quantitative data. Not only do you find out who is buying your product, but also why and what they’re most likely to purchase in the future.

You can craft names and stories for these personas, identify—beyond your product category—their likes and dislikes, family size, and propensity for social sharing (positive or negative). All of which is backed by hard data and analysis.

Imagine being a home goods or tool manufacturing company and knowing exactly, down to the color preference, what works (or won’t) with your biggest spenders and most loyal customers. Is there a hidden group of consumers you might not have considered before (as was the case in this study FGI did through a combination of social media mining and segmentation)?

In light of a new focus on journey mapping and customer experience across a number of industries, I think segmentation will be more crucial than ever.

4. Predictive analytics are part of the future of marketing

Some companies spend a lot of money to boost their JD Power score (or NPS) to see it either stay flat or nominally increase. Others throw time and effort into customer engagement ideas only to see them go down in a blaze of glory (Jello’s recent #fml Twitter campaign comes to mind).

In addition to asking the right questions at the start, it’d sure be nice to know the exact ROI for a particular time or money investment. You can do that with predictive analytics (marketers insert cheer here).

So every time your CEO asks why that vertical was promoted through PPC rather than a case study, or why a brainstorming session about better customer service is more essential than one on product packaging redesigns, you can use predictive analytics for definitive proof.

At each stage, you can compare your future scores against your current benchmark, see what shifts each step forward might make, and move swiftly and smartly through decision making. That’s why I think marketing and predictive analytics will have a nice future together, and I’m glad to get the heads up now.

5. Don’t forget about big data

FGI has covered big data a few times on this blog, from what it is and how to get started to its use with the aforementioned predictive analytics.

With each post, I got a better grasp of the potential that lies in data mining and appending, especially when transactional data meets behavioral. Undoubtedly, it’s a big mountain to climb for most companies, but I think the view from the top must be pretty darn nice (just ask Amazon).

I’ll likely keep an eye on this space as the FGI big data experts are just getting warmed up on the topic.

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