Another great guest blog post by Ryan Gould of Elevation Marketing. This time we wanted to know his thoughts on marketing research, something we do a lot of here at ClickSend Towers and something all businesses should be doing, even that little cafe down the street.
Marketing research is often viewed as something for the big guys. Typically, we think of it in regards to massive companies like Apple, Verizon, or McDonald’s. Remember when McDonald’s added apple slices to their menu as an alternative to French Fries? That was the result of marketing research that proved consumers were looking for healthier options.
As it stands, the majority of companies that conduct marketing research have been in business for 20 years or more. According to Forbes, only 6% of companies that conduct marketing research are less than five years old, but those companies have the right idea. Size and legacy don’t actually matter. In truth, marketing research can drive results across every kind of company, and not just in the realm of marketing. It can benefit every team from business development to sales to marketing – and here’s how.
What is Marketing Research?
Before you learn how marketing research can help drive results across your company, you need to know what market research actually is. In short, it’s the process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about a service or product and the market it’s being offered in. This includes information about:
- target consumers
think: who they are, where they are, their spending habits, their specific needs
- competitor offerings
think: what is their pricing strategy? How do their products and services differ from yours?
Marketing research provides a lot of data – the kind of data that could change an entire business strategy for the better – but you have to know how to use it for it to be worth the investment.
Use Marketing Research to Nurture Leads
The absolute best way to convert a potential customer is to think like a customer, and a solid marketing research strategy can give your business a lot – and I mean a lot – of information about who that target customer is. This includes data about their specific buying cycles, socioeconomic status, location, age, level of education, likes and dislikes, and shopping and online habits. This can then be utilized by both your sales and marketing teams to create an effective sales funnel.
In order for your sales team to actually convert leads, they have to know exactly what drives and motivates your target customer throughout each point in the sales process. For example, pretend you’re running a clothing company that’s looking to unload an old line of bathing suits. Market research on consumer buying cycles will probably show that a President’s Day sale (in February) would be less effective than an Independence Day sale (in July). Even a Labor Day sale will catch consumers at the end of the beach season.
Yes, this may seem obvious, but marketing research is often the proof behind our intuition, and the real data we can fall back out when our intuition proves to be wrong. Hey, it happens. We’re only human.
Use Marketing to Tap into a New Market (or Ditch an Old One)
According to research from CBInsights, most startups fail because there’s no market need for the product or service they’re offering – but what if you could find a brand new market to tap into? This is exactly how market research can help your business development team, and it’s not just about finding a new market. It’s about ditching a market that isn’t working for your consumers, too.
Look at it through the lens of Snapchat’s colossal failure with Spectacles. The B2C software company’s main gig is Snapchat, the popular app where users share photos and short videos. As their user base soared in 2016, the company jumped into the hardware market with Spectacles, a pair of video-recording sunglasses that could be paired with their app.
Unfortunately, Spectacles had virtually no market need. Recording video through the app was easy enough, and the glasses were clumsy, difficult to use, and expensive. According to TechCrunch, only 0.08% of the company’s existing user base purchased the product, leaving hundreds of thousands of pairs to rot in the company’s warehouse. Proper market research could’ve helped better predict the demand – if there was actually a demand at all.
Use Marketing to Develop New Products and Tweak Existing Products
Beyond finding opportunities in new markets, marketing research can help your product development team craft new opportunities within your existing market. In other words, you can’t give your customers what they want if you don’t know what they want.
One of the biggest examples of this is McDonald’s pivot towards healthier menu items. The company is notorious for its extensive market research, which found that modern consumers were more concerned about their health and steering away from traditional, calorie-laden fast food options like supersized fries. This led the company to release a myriad of new, healthier menu items – including the aforementioned apple slices, which were added in 2004.
Still, marketing research isn’t just used to create new products. It can also be used to tweak existing products to better serve consumers. Again, McDonald’s did this with their apple slices in 2011. According to Business Insider, Happy Meals previously came with either apple slices or fries, but marketing research showed that this caused fights between kids and their parents. Seriously, what kid would choose apples when they can have fries?
To mitigate this issue, McDonald’s altered their Happy Meals to include both apples and fries, but the calorie-laden fries were doled out in a lesser portion. In other words, they used marketing research to make both parties in their sales funnel happy – a happy meal, indeed ??
Use Marketing Research for Better Customer Service
Marketing research doesn’t just help you nurture new leads; it also helps you keep long-standing customers, which are the bread and butter of most businesses. According to The Harvard Business Review, increasing customer retention rates but just 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%. Customer service is a key factor, but creating a positive experience requires some knowledge.
Fortunately, market research can provide valuable insights by tracking customer satisfaction across multiple channels. For example, can customers easily navigate your website? At what point of the sales funnel are they dropping out? Is your return policy adequate? Typically, secret shoppers, email surveys, and monitoring social media – which are all included in a comprehensive marketing research strategy – can help define strengths and weaknesses within your customer relations department.
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services
From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skilfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organisations.
More from Ryan:
- SMS Marketing: How To Collect Opt-In Phone Numbers
- SMS Marketing: How To Ensure You Don’t Annoy Your Customers