Data Driven: 'Know Thy Customer'
3. Open Up to Feedback
There are many opportunities to capture what is "open" feedback from customers and consumers in your markets. Analyzing these types of data sets is usually more of an art than a database science. An informal process will offer a glimpse of real consumers speaking to each other about your products and brand. If repetitive content starts showing up, we make notes and address these issues in more scientific surveys.
A more advanced opportunity is to use some custom programming and query tools to analyze large sets of "open" data, looking for words and phrases that are repeated over and over in a specific context. Some examples of this communication are gift card messaging, social media ongoing conversations in relevant community forums and Internet chat arenas, and customer service comments made while on the phone to the extent you collect these.
Perhaps certain conversations generate distinct phrases that indicate consumer versus business gift needs. Perhaps moms, dads or grandchildren show up more often. A specific adjective or verb repeating itself may indicate a value or benefit you have not thought about. It might turn out that your products are often used for get well thoughts, or moving occasions, or support of some type. Try a little research into conversations you have access to and see what shows up. You may uncover some learning about your products and brand you have not thought about before.
Basic database rules and practices apply when using research in your marketing programs. Be sure to apply the same standards and rigor you have in place for your customer database here as well. I would venture a guess that consumer behavior will only continue to demand that research becomes a larger part of industry data practices in the future. I recommend staying ahead of the curve on this marketing reality by getting a comprehensive research data program in place now.