Category: Web Analytics
A recent article in Inc. magazine delves into a study by RSR, which indicates that mid-market retailers are unlikely to use customer analytics, putting them at a major disadvantage in trying to compete with both the major players and the boutique-sized companies. A company’s website can be a treasure trove of information, easily tapped into via packages such as Google Analytics. Here are three easy and small ways for mid-market retailers to apply customer analytics to their web sites to generate big returns:
Understanding the source: Once you know where your traffic is coming from, you can build strategies to attract even more customers from those sites. The source of traffic report in Google Analytics can provide great insights into what these users do when they get to your site and the content that is most valuable to them. Moreover, you can begin to understand lost opportunities – sources that provide traffic to you, but also generate high bounce rates (users who come to your site and then leave without doing anything else). Once you understand which sources are generating high quality traffic, you can focus on maximizing volume out of that traffic, while seeking to understand why other traffic has been less productive.
Customer segmentation: The research indicates that poor performers in the retail industry ask for customer segmentation data, but are slow to deliver solutions that appeal to segmented differences in terms of customer preferences. Google Analytics has pre-defined segments, or you can create your own, so that you can gain stronger insights of how different types of your customers behave and the media sources they use. This information can be leveraged to create innovative offerings that can foster customer loyalty and increase revenue.
Testing ads and web site layouts: By setting up different landing pages, you can test ads to see which messaging has the greatest resonance with your audience. Or, you can test web site organization, or placement of elements to see which improves the navigational experience. Think of it as a digital planogram test – you can experiment with different layouts and placements to maximize sales opportunities.
Mid-level retailers don’t have to settle for mid-level results. Use customer analytics to develop a better understanding of your target market and their preferences to create a sustainable advantage and improve marketing ROI.
As noted in a Fast Company article, innovation starts with listening to your customers. They can tell you what they need, why they need it, what problems it will solve for them and how it will make them feel.
You can learn how to harness customer insights into discovering new products services, or changes to those which already exist, that create a sustainable competitive advantage for your brand. It all starts with asking the right questions, using best practices in market research, to address customer needs:
- Watch your customers interact with your brand. You’ll learn about how they use it, any difficulties they have with it, and other products which may address problems they have that they haven’t yet found a solution for.
- Learn how they make the purchase decision. Is it alone, or with others? Who influences their decisions? What is the purchase experience like for them, and how can you make it better or easier?
- Talk to non-customers – what are the barriers to purchasing your product? How can these barriers be overcome? Does the competition currently solving their problem in a way that you don’t?
Most importantly, understand that customers are NOT looking for product features. They ARE looking for product benefits. You can learn what these benefits are, and how they can be uniquely positioned, if you ask the question and really listen to the answers.
Making respondent assignments more affordable
Most marketers and consultants know what to look for in the implementation of in-person qualitative research techniques. However, many aren’t aware of easy ways to maximize their return on investment when using these qualitative techniques in an online environment. Hence, the first in our series on maximizing the use of online qualitative research – reducing the cost of respondent homework assignments.
In-person qualitative studies often ask respondents to complete an assignment beforehand to provide insights into their brand perceptions, product usage, or category consumption. While it is often necessary to provide additional incentives to compensate respondents for their time, online research opens up new worlds to make these assignments more affordable for the client, thus reducing the cost of the research:
- Sometimes respondents are asked to sort through magazines to find pictures indicating their perceptions of a concept or a product. This requires respondents to find suitable literature, spend time cutting out the pictures, and then paste them onto paper or poster board. Online, lower cost – respondents can be asked to find clip art or images that evoke the same perceptions. Online methods reduce the need for any printing, and physical cutting and pasting.
- Respondents are asked to provide a video of themselves using a product, and bring in the video. The researcher also has to provide equipment sufficiently large enough for other respondents to see the video. Online, lower cost –video can be easily uploaded, with other respondents immediately able to view on their computer screens.
- Respondents keep a diary of product usage, or their feelings regarding a product. They have to remember to bring the journal with them, and the writing can be burdensome, particularly among certain populations. Online, lower cost – respondents can upload a journal at any time, recorded either by typing or voice activation. BONUS: respondents can also post their journals online to a social network, and researchers can observe reactions to these perceptions among the respondent’s friends, providing access to a larger audience and more in-depth insights.
There are certainly times when the homework required by respondents necessitates a live, in-person group. However, online methods offer new flexibility and the opportunity to reduce research costs in many situations.
Create Dynamic Partnerships
The easiest way to immediately generate great returns for your clients is to form partnerships with others (e.g., designers, strategists, researchers). This type of “teaming” approach can fill gaps in your knowledge base, generate deliverables in which you don’t necessarily want to be involved at a hands-on level, or provide specific niche or industry expertise. Many consultants and agencies search the web for such partners, but here are some methods which others have found highly successful:
Word of Mouth – The best partners for you will be those who share your values and work ethic. By talking with other consultants and agencies, you’ll quickly learn not only who they’ve used, but who they’d recommend to deliver the highest quality results. It can be very helpful when someone has “tested” out a potential partner, and it can eliminate much of your guesswork.
LinkedIn – By using LinkedIn’s search function, you can quickly find potential partners. View their websites and blogs to see how they present themselves, and discover what expertise they might have. In addition, many consultants have had success in following these individuals on twitter to see what they’re talking about and what they “retweet.” Any of these strategies can help you scope out possible teammates without them necessarily knowing that you’re inquiring about their skills, talents and expertise.
Marketing Profs – By visiting the forum on MarketingProfs, you’re able to access hundreds of marketing experts and pose real questions to them. By reading their answers, you’ll not only get a glimpse into their style, but also their knowledge and experience.
Many clients appreciate the team approach as it ensures them that they are getting the highest quality work. It also demonstrates that you are able to bring others to the table who can increase returns on client investments. In short, partnerships are a great way to demonstrate that you are a marketing hero.
A recent article in The New York Times reveals how Unilever leveraged product and image testing to determine the best way to launch its Knorr Homestyle Stock brand in the United States.
Company executives maximized the return on their research dollars to not only determine the benefits consumers wanted in the product (in this case it was value and convenience), but also how to best communicate with consumers and drive product appeal. This article demonstrates that product testing, done well, can give your client a return on their investment that expands their power in the marketplace:
- Power with consumers – The fact that Knorr reached out to its target market and measured the appeal of its message ensures that it will maximize returns on investment in on advertising and marketing. In “understanding the home cook, the time-pressured cook…” Knorr took the time to understand what the target market wanted, and how its product relates to the market’s emotional needs and solves a consumer problem.
- Power with retailers – Because Knorr was able to study potential demand and appeal, retailers are happy about sales, with response from these key partners being “quite positive”. By studying consumer demand, Knorr was able to satisfy the need of its distribution, a key success factor.
- Power to investors – Knorr’s research efforts also demonstrate the ability of a company to save on expenditures. The company adopted a commercial used in other countries and tested some adaptations to it in the US market, saving on creative and production costs.
You can bring testing to your client as a way of maximizing efforts in marketing their own product category and business. Budgets aside, any client can employ a testing methodology to increase sales of their own products.
Be the consultant who gives your client the power to do so.
Most marketing experts advise their clients to conduct a concept test before launching a product – a smart idea because it can help the client maximize revenue by determining which copy, images and language have the greatest appeal.
However, many consultants are nervous about recommending concept tests to their clients, often due to the costs they imagine are involved. Here are three easy ways to trim the cost to your client, while not compromising on the returns of this valuable research tool:
Minimize sample size
Obtaining the sample is often one of the most expensive aspects of this research. If you are really considering a simple go/no-go decision, it may be worthwhile to limit your sample size. Small samples will limit your ability to conduct some data analysis (e.g., measure purchase intent among different segments). However, you may still be able to measure potential overall concept acceptance. A good market research professional will be able to advise you on these tradeoffs so you and your client can make an informed decision.
Shorten the questionnaire
Make sure the length of your questionnaire does not exceed 10 minutes in length. Again, a good market research pro can guide you in trimming unnecessary questions, or structuring a questionnaire so that it minimizes response time. Short questionnaires save money because they increase response rates, and can minimize the cost of any respondent incentives.
Evaluate on-line tools
If you’re conducting a survey over the internet, the price of using some web-based tools varies. The capabilities of no-cost options can really limit your ability to analyze the data. At the same time, other tools can be out-of-reach for your client’s budget. Make sure you understand what’s included in the free versions, and evaluate whether your client really needs some of the fancier enhancements of others to conduct a solid concept test. Again, finding a good research partner can ensure that you give the client the best return on investment.
Whether it be branding, positioning, social media strategy, or providing any other marketing expertise, concept testing can save your client time and money, particularly if you apply these effective tips.
Your client is getting ready for a new product launch, and you’ve been charged with positioning the product’s message to shape the launch’s advertising campaign. You’re sure that some high-quality market research will provide you and your client with good direction.
Which of the following would you look for in a research partner?
- Industry experience.
- Expertise with a specific tool or methodology (e.g., live focus groups or telephone surveys) which you’re sure would be the best for you to use.
- Ability to identify the demographics and behaviors of your target audience.
These requirements don’t maximize your client’s investment. Here’s why and what you can do to really leverage those research dollars.
- “Category expert” is not always synonymous with “research expert.” An agency or consultant working with a client with a highly-technical focus often believes that the researcher should have industry-specific experience. If your client is a water-filtration company, for example, may want to see a bidder’s background conducting surveys about both charcoal and ceramic filters. However, this requirement overlooks the experience and lessons that the researcher may learned through knowledge gained in a wide variety of industries. How to maximize your investment: Choose a researcher who can demonstrate how they’ve approached similar issues, and how they’ll apply previous experiences and solutions to the unique needs of your research objective.
- You may choose a hammer when you need a screwdriver. If you determine ahead of time that a certain methodology is the best way to go, you are short-changing yourself of harnessing the most value out of the researcher’s expertise. This is especially true if you’re not even considering some of the new cutting-edge techniques with which any research agency worth their weight should at least have some level of familiarization. How to maximize your investment: Ask bidders to recommend the best methods to approach the research project. Even better: Ask the researcher to identify some methods they considered, but ultimately did not recommend and why.
- You know the client’s market, or at least some information about it. Requiring bidders to suggest the characteristics of your ideal buyer is like asking someone to order food without showing them the menu. How to maximize your investment: You have first-hand knowledge of who the client’s target market is; by being as specific as possible in terms of purchasing dynamics and demographics, you can make sure the researcher gets you the most accurate bid for your project, minimizing surprises down the road.
There are other variables that will most certainly impact the quality of the research project and the data it generates. But by providing prospective prospective market research consultants with solid customer specifications, asking them to recommend the best research methodology, and insuring they can demonstrate how they’ve solved similar research puzzles in the past, you’ll put yourself one step closer to turning a good investment for your client into a great one.