In today's consumer-centric business world, most are terrified of alienating prospects. It is the proverbial boogeyman. Many traditional outreach methods have been all but retired because they are considered "intrusive" and supposedly run the risk of annoying customers. These traditional outreach methods include cold calls via telephone and even in-person door-to-door sales.
In market research, data collection methods that refuse to evolve with changing times deserve to be retired as well. Random pop-up windows, spammy email survey invites that turn into a request for a sale, –and even cold telephone calls to customers are antiquated not only because they are intrusive, but also because they are less effective, take more time, and are more costly.
Where does traditional market research fit in a world overwhelmed with big data?
The Age of Big Data
We live in an era of endless information. Traditional qualitative data methodologies are losing ground to quantitative measures that allow for more immediate analysis. It is much easier to use hard statistics with defensible source material than to make sense of focus group chatter or statements which require interpretation.
Market research companies have always struggled to find enough data for clients. But in the world of big data, having enough data is no longer the issue. The concerns revolve around finding time to review all of the endless amount of data as well as prioritizing what data is worth their time.
Properly organized big data is popular because it brings big results, and the marketing industry is uniformly agreed on this point. The big data industry now stands at $42 billion and is expected to expand to $103 billion by 2027, a CAGR of 10.48% every year. An Accenture study (and many others) reported that 79% of executives agreed that companies without big data face market share hemorrhage and possible extinction.
Millennials and online users, fast becoming the majority of consumers in the developed world, prefer inbound marketing techniques. People are willingly (and sometimes unknowingly) giving up information with a spoonful of sugar. For instance, a single marketing message hidden inside of a social influencer's Instagram feed can be more effective than an entire email campaign or paid advertising. About one-third (31%) of outbound marketers agree with this statement. This creates and endless pool of big data to analyze.
Traditional Market Research
Traditional market research still has a home in the age of big data. It provides the perspective to dig deeper into the quantitative data collected through other means. It proves the intent and motivations behind the numbers collected through big data efforts. If you know anything about intent marketing, then you know that finding the why is vitally important. It improves the ROI of everything else that you do.Reviewing data from a recent Facebook campaign may tell you which A/B campaign was more successful over another. Test A had 156 clicks and a 2.7% CTR while Test B had 82 clicks and a 0.5% CTR. Based on this automated data it is clear which ad was preferred. But do you know why? A short survey or focus group could have lended valuable information that will not only provide insight for this specific campaign, but inform your marketing strategy for the next 100 campaigns going forward depending on what you learn. Traditional market research can offer a tremendous ROI.
Modern market research is no longer considered intrusive, which is important to note.
For example, a website intercept survey has become quite sophisticated. Website cookies serve the survey to the respondent at the appropriate time and engagement milestone. This means the pop-up is no longer random and annoying. Or through sophisticated cookie tracking and database matching it may mean the website visitor receives an email an hour later asking them to rate their experience on the site rather than intercepting them mid-visit.
The bottom line: You do not have to give up on traditional market research like surveys, intercepts, focus groups, and in-depth interviews (IDIs). You simply need to find a market research partner who understands how to use it, can recommend a best methodology, and ties the insights back to other big data you have in-house. Properly employed, market research gives you actionable insights which big data alone may not be able to provide.
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