Data Driven: ‘Know Thy Customer’

3 tips for making the most of your research data

We are in the midst of a true paradigm shift. Consumer behavior suggests consumers want to be more in control of their interaction with the marketing that brands are pushing out. As marketers collect more data and gain access to more powerful analytic technologies, there also is a new dimension we need to access to understand consumer behavior.

Database practices focused on what customers are feeling and sharing about their favorite brands must now be added to our ongoing data routines. Research, ironically an old marketing tactic, provides data to address this new change in behavior.

Research data does not typically have a customer record identifier and, therefore, exists as an external tool. Even so, industry standard data rules and practices apply here. There must be enough data to act on, integrity in the manner it is collected, and segmentation included. Here are three tips to make the most of research data:

1. Use Surveys
If you’re going to execute a survey program in-house, be sure to offer an entry into a drawing or some other incentive to encourage participation. Avoid having too many open-ended questions by using a numerical matrix for answering most questions. A ranking grid also enables visibility of how the combined answers change over time. The average may be 2.3 one time and then 2.9 the next time, indicating a directional pattern.

Also, include a question or two to provide segmentation visibility. For instance, by asking if survey participants place their orders by phone or using the Web, you can have media channel segmentation in place to learn how differently media channel users answer other questions.

There are three easy ways to execute in-house surveys:

• Package stuffers in your outgoing product shipments. These tend to be focused on customer service questions, but you can add marketing content, as well. These surveys reach all your customers and the data tends to be actionable across a more comprehensive portion of your customer base. Therefore, segmentation questions are very appropriate here.

Geoff Wolf is EVP of client strategy at the Mission, Kan.-based direct marketing agency J. Schmid & Associates.
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