Quantitative Vs. Qualitative Marketing Research

You can split marketing research techniques into two basic types — quantitative and qualitative research. Read on to learn the differences between the two.

Quantitative research relies upon objective numbers, statistics, and hard facts. In contrast, qualitative user research seeks to explore more subjective questions, such as feelings and motivations. Your deep understanding of the difference between these two kinds of marketing research will help inform decisions that you make about investing in the information your company needs to thrive.

Quantitative and qualitative user research examples

To better understand the difference between these two disciplines, consider some simple examples of quantitative and qualitative marketing research:

Quantitative Marketing Research

You can gather broad insights about customer behavior using quantitative marketing research. For example, let’s say that your website currently sells high-quality, coffee-making supplies. Some examples might include coffee makers, filters, and so on. You have a good base of loyal patrons, so you think about adding high-end coffee beans to your online shop in order to increase revenue.

How can you decide if your customers will want to buy coffee from you? Often, marketers use surveys to gather quantitative data. Your survey could ask your current customers how often they buy coffee online. Very often, you will give users a choice of a few ranges to make the information easier to collate or graph.

So you might begin by asking them if they buy coffee online:

  • Never
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • A couple of times a year

You may find that 50-percent of your current customers already buy coffee online at least once a month. That could encourage you to consider offering coffee subscriptions to satisfy your customers and of course, generate more revenue.

Qualitative Marketing Research

The research above helped you discover that your customer base is already open to the idea of buying coffee online. That’s good news, but you still don’t know for certain that you can motivate them to start buying their coffee from you. For that, you can turn to qualitative user research.

These are some qualitative marketing research tools you could employ:

  • You can still use surveys but ask more open-ended questions. Instead of asking multiple-choice questions, you might ask your customers where they buy coffee now, why they like that retailer, and what might encourage them to switch.
  • Other qualitative marketing research techniques include focus groups and interviews. Surveys are easier, but the brainstorming aspect of focus groups and interviews can help you uncover surprising insights that you may miss if you simply didn’t know to put the right questions on your survey.

Should you rely upon quantitative or qualitative marketing research?

Do you need quantitative or qualitative data to better understand your marketplace? Experienced marketers will generally suggest gathering both kinds of information in order to gain deep insights about any aspect of a business:

  • Quantitative information can give you a big-picture overview of customer behavior. You may also find it easy to gather numbers with surveys or even your own website’s analytics. Generally, you can rapidly plot or analyze these numbers to make them easy to understand.  It’s easy to say how much time average visitors spend on your website, how many prospects abandon shopping carts, or how often customers buy coffee. At the same time, quantitative data is better at describing behavior than motivation.
  • Since you won’t gather such neat, ordered answers as you would with multiple-choice, quantitative questions, it may take more time to organize qualitative answers into meaningful trends. Still, the more flexible and subjective nature of qualitative research can uncover surprising insights into consumer preferences and motivations. Your research group may answer questions you didn’t even think to ask. Also, you can find tools to help you analyze unstructured data. For instance, some software can pick out common and related words or phrases and arrange them into comprehensible diagrams.

Finding good quantitative and qualitative research companies

Of course, you might not believe you have the time or background to properly design and conduct market research all by yourself. You can work with quantitative or qualitative research companies. A good research firm should have the experience and training to provide the answers to your marketing questions. Right at the beginning, they should learn enough about your business concerns to help you decide if you should focus upon quantitative research, qualitative research, or a combination of both.

According to CFR, a market research company, you need to take care when asking for advice from some companies before engaging them to do your research. In the real world, many researchers have more experience with one discipline over the other. Naturally, that experience can give them an unconscious bias. On the other hand, you can certainly find a quantitative and qualitative marketing research agency with experience in both types of research and just as importance, the skill to blend them for the best results.

Why market research matters

You know that a stronger understanding of consumers will give you the chance to serve them better. In turn, that good relationship will help you retain loyal customers and attract new ones. The insights you gain can help inform your website design, the products you offer, and the kind of advertisements you run.  Before you plan your research, you need to decide if you should rely upon quantitative, qualitative, or a mix of the two. If you seek help from a marketing research company, make certain that they have experience to handle them both.

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Using Lookalike Modeling to Attract New Customers

Use lookalike modeling to find new customers with similar traits to your current ones. Read on to explore how it can improve your marketing efforts.

As a business owner, have you ever wished you could clone your best customers?  Modern business tech has not advanced quite that far yet. You can’t exactly duplicate your existing base of customers; however, you can grow it.

Understanding lookalike modeling

With lookalike audience targeting, you can select specific traits of your current consumers or leads. Your original source could come from email lists, social marketing sites, tracking pixels of website visitors, or even third-party sources. Then you match the common traits from your source with consumers in a wider pool to generate a new audience.

As a simple example, say American women between 28 and 42 tend to buy the most children’s shoes from your website. You could match those specific traits to target direct-to-consumer advertising. Since you’re matching traits, you have a better chance to display appropriate ads over just showing your advertising to everybody. That gives you a good chance to improve your ratio of ad clicks and conversions.

Of course, the more information that you have about your existing and current audience, the better chance you have to benefit. For instance, it might help to know if these women are mothers, have a certain income level, and so on. Still, any amount of targeting to new people that you can base off of traits from current prospects or customers should yield better results than not targeting at all.

Lookalike modeling tools

Of course, you will need a way to automate the process of finding a new audience that matches one of your current ones. You can find plenty of alternatives to help you with this. Explore Facebook Lookalike Audiences and Adobe Audience Manager to understand how businesses use technology to create lookalike audiences.

Facebook Lookalike Audiences

If you’re looking for a simple introduction to a lookalike modeling, you should know that Facebook offers a feature they call Facebook Lookalike Audiences. This gives you a way to target new customers based upon certain qualities of an existing custom audience. Some sources for your custom audience could include your existing Facebook followers, customer records, pixel tracking, or an email list. When you create your custom audience, Facebook will do the work of finding common traits in order to create your new audience from their own vast base of users.

Facebook’s tools look fairly simple to use, but you have to give up some control. You can set location and audience size. However, the system chooses and matches traits. According to Facebook, your two audiences will more closely match each other if you choose a smaller audience. In turn, it will start to diverge more if you pick a bigger one. Because of the way their algorithm works, they suggest an audience size of between 1,000 and 50,000 people. However, Facebook does allow you to create multiple lookalike audiences to use for ad targeting.

Adobe Audience Manager

If you work with a lookalike modeling agency, they may suggest a more sophisticated and flexible tool, like Adobe Audience Manager. With Audience Manager, you can trust the system to match traits or choose your own. You also have control over time intervals and data sources. Data sources could include either your own or third-party customer bases.

This tool offers such sophisticated features as A/B testing, in-depth analytics, and built-in privacy controls. Most of all, you’re not locked into using Facebook advertising. While software like Adobe Audience may prove somewhat more complex to use than Facebook Lookalike Audiences, it’s more flexible.

Making the most of lookalike audience targeting

As a marketer, you’ve probably already heard about the benefits of creating buyer personas. When you take the time to get to know your current customers, you have a better chance to connect with other people who have similar motivations and habits. Lookalike targeting takes this one step further because you can use what you know in order to grow your audience and your customer base.

Of course, you can use this kind of targeting on your database of warm leads in order to market things that similar customers have purchased. You might even apply it to your existing customer base for upsells. Lookalike modeling can really shine when you need to approach a cold audience that doesn’t already have a strong introduction to your business. Because you can use traits from existing customers or prospects, you should have better conversions than if you could not pull specific traits to base your targeting upon.

Since you know you’re working with a cold audience, some marketers say they get the most value by crafting ads that build trust more than overt sales. You might run split tests with various ads to see how this works for your own services or products. For instance, you could try a split test with direct ads against more subtle informational content that leads to a subscription form. Either way, lookalike audience targeting gives you a good opportunity to warm up a cold audience and even to turn them into your customers.

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Why Marketing Intelligence is Essential For New Business

In order to succeed, you must understand that you don’t operate your company in a vacuum that only contains you and your customers.

Competitive marketing intelligence refers to gathering data about business competitors and your overall market. Not only does this kind of information help you understand direct competitors, it also gives you insights about their customers, marketing tactics, suppliers, and partners. Find out how to collect competitive intelligence and why it’s particularly important for new businesses.

Why new businesses need competitive marketing intelligence

According to a 2020 survey from Crayon, a company that offers business intelligence solutions, 94 percent of all businesses invest in competitive intelligence. As important as large and established companies find this information, it’s even more vital to startups.

After you’ve operated your business for some time, you’ll have more information about your own customers and other aspects of your market. When you’re just starting, you’ll lack the internal data and experience to guide decisions. 

For instance:

  • After you’ve made a few hundred sales, you will start to understand the demographics and behavior of your typical consumers.  You can use that intelligence to satisfy current customers better. You may also employ it to plan and target marketing campaigns to attract new customers, based upon the profiles of your current ones.
  • You’ll have had a chance to investigate and test suppliers, distributors, and business processes. This information will help you work more efficiently. Without outside intelligence, you might need to suffer a long learning curve.

All ages and sizes of businesses can benefit from competitive research; however, you can see that it’s particularly vital for new companies. Lucky for you, plenty of market intelligence companies offer accessible services to small businesses these days. Digital technology can provide a tiny startup with the same sorts of business intelligence solutions that large companies rely upon.

Should your new business gather your own competitive market research?

If you can’t possibly budget for an internal department to supply intelligence, you can find a market research company with affordable services that have been tailored for your business stage. Actually, employing a third-party marketing research agency can offer both new and established benefits some benefits:

  • Different perspectives: All sorts of businesses can benefit from a second set of eyes. Focused business founders drive themselves so hard to spark their business that it’s hard to remain objective sometimes. Also, new businesses can particularly benefit from a marketing research company with experience helping similar small companies.
  • Technology expertise: In this digital age, marketing intelligence researchers rely upon an array of sophisticated tools. These can range from advertising platforms to social media monitoring to tools that allow companies to spy on their competitor’s search marketing campaigns. Research consultants should already know how to maximize the potential of these tools to provide you with the insights that you need.
  • Efficient use of time: Unless you’re starting a marketing intelligence agency, you will want to focus upon other primary business goals. While your researchers do their jobs, you can do yours. You’re bound to enjoy faster results by relying upon experienced marketers than if you tried to handle your main responsibilities and intelligence research.

You should also understand that the nature of competitive intelligence may vary wildly for different kinds of companies. For instance an ecommerce site that sells common physical goods may most have an interest in a competitor’s marketing. However, a healthcare industry business may need to expand its intelligence to current regulations and political trends.

Also, you might perform some kinds of competitive market research by using online tools. However, such accessible and low-hanging fruit might not provide you with enough information to truly understand your business climate or competitors. Just a small sample of other sources might include journals, newspapers, conferences, government publications, and business directories. You may not always need to spend a lot of money to benefit from these sources, but you will need to spend time and of course, know where to look.

Kinds of competitive intelligence for new businesses

Market researchers generally group competitive marketing intelligence into two basic types:

  • Strategic marketing intelligence: Strategic intelligence seeks to learn about competitors and the broader business environment. It’s supported by a long-term plan that will help and sometimes even determine primary business goals. For example, Unilever did well by promoting many of its products as sustainable brand, and it is those brands that drive the most growth and sales for the parent company. They set this goal after gathering intelligence about the motivations of consumers for the types of soap and tea they market and the successful efforts of some competitors.
  • Tactical marketing intelligence: Tactical marketing intelligence refers to the short-term actions that will support the business strategy and achieve goals. Let’s say your company also wanted to promote yourself as a sustainable company. This could be personally important to you and according to your intelligence, important to your target audience.

When to gather competitive marketing intelligence?

Ideally, you should begin gathering strategic research before you even solidify your business plan and goals. You may have a great business idea, but insights you gain from your intelligence will help you refine it. Once you’ve defined goals, you can begin to gain tactical intelligence in order to map out the best ways to achieve them.

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Get to Know Your Customers with Consumer Insights Marketing

Consumer insights marketing can help you understand your audience’s motivation, perspective, and behavior so you can discover more opportunities.

As a business owner, you probably think you know your customers pretty well. You might be right, but these days, you need to go beyond some general demographics in order to obtain true consumer insights. Beyond the likely age, gender, or even actions of current or future customers, you will benefit by digging deeper into the motivation, perspective, and information that drives their behavior.  Find out how consumer insight marketing can yield surprising information and even better, great results.

Why focus upon consumer insights marketing?

In an era when a consumer’s experience with a company outweighs the products they offer, attention to consumer insight marketing will help you connect with customers. For example, you may have some idea that your customers mostly base their purchase decisions upon such objective and obvious measures as product quality and price.

Deloitte, a prominent consumer insights company, ran a large survey in the US, UK, Brazil, and China for 2020. According to their consumer behavior analysis, a sizable percentage of respondents said they considered these measures when deciding which business to buy from:

  • How businesses treat employees: 28 percent
  • How businesses treat the environment: 22 percent
  • How businesses treat their communities: 19 percent

For your own business, your customer base may vary somewhat. On the other hand, knowing that about 20 percent of your customers want to patronize companies that care about their employees, the environment, and their community could certainly inform your marketing. For example, you might focus upon social posts and ads that introduce enthusiastic employees or highlight your contribution to worthy causes.

In fact, consumer insights marketing may have even more importance than it did only a year ago. Deloitte noted that they ran a similar survey in 2019. At that point, their consumer insights found that most customers still cared about price and quality the most. This year’s survey found that 55 percent of consumers think businesses have a responsibility to support issues that relate to their purpose.

Deloitte concluded that companies that fail to demonstrate they align with consumer motivations risk getting displaced by businesses that do a better job.  On the other hand, understanding and aligning with their customer’s point of view gives businesses an advantage of competition.

How consumer insights marketing will help your business compete

As a real-world example, Unilever has 28 brands they market as good choices for people interested in sustainable living. These include such well-known names as Lipton, Dove, and Vaseline. Considered sustainable-living products, they deliver the bulk of Unilever’s revenue and also have enjoyed more rapid growth than the company’s other brands.

Such items as tea, soap, and petroleum jelly appear pretty interchangeable, but Unilever did a good job of differentiating them as sustainable in order to grow its market share. Certainly, consumers still care about price and quality; however, in a crowded market, knowing what extra factors will prompt customers to favor one company over another can make all the difference.

How to gather consumer insights

By now, you might wonder how you can possibly start to understand your customer’s motivations and perceptions. If you lack the time or training, you can find market research services that offer affordable packages for all sizes and kinds of businesses. The smaller and newer your company, the more valuable you may find this sort of help.

On the other hand, you can begin by studying general consumer behavior analysis, such as that provided by the Deloitte survey mentioned above. Even better, you should start to monitor your own customers on social media or offer surveys. If you’re starting a new business, you may not have many customers yet. At the same time, you can try to peek at your potential competitors’ customers to understand why they buy from other businesses.

You might also try setting up a booth at a trade show or local event. Not only will this give you a chance to introduce more people to your brand, you will also have the opportunity to meet the kinds of people who have an interest in the products or services that you offer. Start conversations with people, so that you can learn what motivated them to make similar purchases in the past and could prompt them to buy from you in the future.

Why start investing in consumer insights today?

In any case, you should know that consumer insights marketing has become more than just the latest marketing term. No matter what you sell, you can’t assume that price and quality completely drive customer behavior. In fact, the more you know about your customer’s motivations to prefer one company over another, the less you may need to compete on price.

In fact, getting customers to identify with your company in positive ways is a type of marketing that money almost can’t buy. On the other hand, you can achieve that beneficial status if you invest in consumer behavior analysis and work to always view your business through your customers’ eyes. In any case, if you thought that all of your customers were simply getting online compare prices, you should be pleasantly surprised to learn that you can find other ways to earn their business. You just need to figure out how to do it, and that’s exactly why you need consumer insights.

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Follow Your Customer Experience Journey to Improve Your ROI

Mapping the customer experience journey will let you visualize and gain insights about the steps customers take when they interact with your business.

As an online business marketer, you can think of a customer experience journey as a description of each person’s behavior as they interact with your website. As a typical map helps you visualize a journey, consumer journey mapping will let you visualize and gain insights about the steps customers take when they interact with your business. In turn, you uncover consumer motivations and those aspects of their experience that you could improve upon in order to increase customer satisfaction and of course, revenues and profits.

What is a user journey map?

Harvard Business Review defined a user journey map as a diagram used to illustrate the steps your customers take to interact with your company. More complex maps may attempt to describe every step in the customer’s journey but some may just focus on a specific path for some product or site feature.

For example, you might include initial brand awareness, from ads or social media. You can even extend the map to contain possible offline interactions with your business. Harvard Business Review mentioned that including more touchpoints could make the document more complex but in some cases, more useful. If you’re mostly focused on just your website, you might only include online actions.

In any case, you create a timeline of a customer journey. You might draw points on the timeline that begin with customer awareness and research and end with a purchase and the after-purchase experience. For each stage, you can use this framework:

  • Action: This refers to the actions the consumer took at the time to move along to the next step. In the awareness phase, the customer might have viewed one of your social or YouTube videos or found your site via search.
  • Motivations: What motivated the consumer to take the next step in their journey. Perhaps your social video suggested a solution to some problem the consumer had or offered a cheaper alternative.
  • Questions: Which uncertainties might prevent the customer from advancing along your funnel to the next stage? Perhaps the potential customer needs more information to understand why your brand offers the best choice in a complex or crowded market.
  • Barriers: Besides a lack of information, are there any other obstacles that work against the consumer’s motivations? Some examples could include the cost or the buying process.

Gathering information to map the customer decision journey

To begin mapping out an online consumer decision journey, you should gather two kinds of information:

  • Website analytics: You should have a fairly easy time figuring out how you customers used your website. For instance, the website analytics will tell you were visitors came from, which features they used, and how long they stayed. If you have trouble sorting out all the information you can gather from your analytics, a customer journey agency may prove a helpful resource.
  • Consumer research: While it’s fairly easy to learn what your website visitors do, it’s a little tougher to understand why they behave the way they do. For instance, a high percentage of visitors might abandon shopping carts before they buy. Maybe they think you charge too much for shipping or don’t offer the right payment options, but sometimes, you can’t know for sure. To make the most of your consumer journey mapping, you might monitor social media or gather surveys or other kinds of feedback.

Again, almost every marketer has a much easier time observing the decisions consumers make than knowing exactly why they make them. That’s another reason why creating your customer experience journey map will give you a fantastic chance to understand customers better. For example, let’s say many customers do abandon shopping carts, and you’re not certain if they’re turned off by shipping charges, payment options, or something else.

Certainly, you can check social media, surveys, and other feedback to see if you can find any helpful trends. Even better, you might use split tests to let changes in behavior suggest motives. If adding free shipping with a minimum order or reducing all shipping helps improve sales, you will know that shipping charges matter to your market. As with deciphering complex analytics, a customer journey agency may help you find the best ways to sort out complex behaviors.

Buyer personas

The Shopify Blog suggests using buyer personas as another tool that can help you develop better maps and gain more understanding of your customers.

For instance:

  • In the best case, you could encourage recent customers to answer survey questions that can tell you exactly what they did and did not like about the process of interacting with your business.
  • You can ask them why they researched products, what motivated them to choose your business, and of course, if they have any suggestions for improvement.

Since understanding motivations can provide you with such valuable insights in order to attract new customers and retain old ones, you might encourage people to complete your surveys with a discount code, extra points in your loyalty club, a free shipping offer.

The importance of consumer journey mapping

These days, businesses live and die by the experience that they offer customers. Brian Solis, the author of “X: The Experience When Business Meets Design,” says that customer experience now exceeds product in importance. Consumers do search for facts when they research brands, products, and marketplaces. But mostly, they remember how you make them feel. Consumer journey mapping will help you understand the customer’s experience from their own point-of-view, and that’s how you can create a successful, customer-focused company.

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Putting the Persona in Persona-Based Marketing

If you want to understand your audience, identify their pain points and win them over, persona-based marketing is critically important. 

Know Your Customer — it’s the First Commandment of Marketing. It’s also the reason why persona-based marketing is so critically important for modern brands. Without identifying who your customers are, you can’t understand what motivates them, identify their pain points and connect with them.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at why persona-based marketing is a powerful tool for advertisers, marketers and brands.

Putting the persona in persona-based marketing

So how do brands get their feet wet in persona-based marketing? First, it’s necessary to create detailed profiles of your potential buyers. These buyer personas then serve as the core of your targeted marketing strategy; they are idealized representations of the audience most likely to purchase your products and services.

A buyer persona is a comprehensive image of a customer that reflects who they are, what motivates them and their propensity to act through each stage of the sales cycle. Some businesses will only need to develop two or three personas, others may be better served by a dozen or more.

These personas are based on a variety of sources, including:

  • Market research into probable buyers, including surveys and in-person interviews. This research provides a fuller picture of the wants, needs and tendencies of a brand’s likely market.
  • Insights and feedback gleaned from existing customers. The same research process can be applied to a brand’s current client set, and this process often provides unique insights, given that these audiences are already familiar with the products or services on offer. Brands also often work with their in-house sales team to learn more about existing and potential customers.
  • Sourced and analyzed consumer data. Customers often say they want one thing, then go buy another. Our words and intentions don’t always reflect our actions, and objective data can help provide another window into what truly moves buyers. 
  • Broader market, industry and demographic information. This data can provide critical context during the brand persona creation process. Such information allows brands to take a wider angle view, and anticipate looming changes within markets and industries. If you can anticipate these changes, you can also anticipate how customers may be affected.

Buyer persona categorization

Brands developing persona-based marketing strategies should also understand that different classes of buyers require varying approaches. For example, when dealing with individual buyers (someone who makes a one-time retail purchase, for example), you’d create a single persona type with a variety of personas to fit within that type. A persona development agency can help you accomplish this task.

B2B operations, however, are often led by sales teams rather than a single buyer. C suite executives, sales leaders, marketing leaders etc. may all be involved in the procurement/sales process. In such cases, brands create team-based personas. These often include a dedicated persona for each member of the purchasing team — personas that outline the specific prerogatives inherent to each position. For example, a team persona designed for a Chief Financial Officer would focus on pricing issues, ROI and other monetary motivators.

Working with the right persona development agency

Buyer persona development, when done at a high level, requires research expertise, industry knowledge and an advanced grasp of marketing strategy. It’s often a tall order for brands to accomplish this without outside help.

At Bigeye, we’re experts at creating finely targeted buyer personas supported by experience and insight. Contact us today to learn more about what the right  agency can do for you. 

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