Monday, May 16, 2011

How to Use Market Research Techniques to Drive Sales

Traditional market research functions used to live on the more analytical side of most big companies.  The product and marketing managers come to them as technical advisors to ask questions.  They would create and structure scientifically valid focus groups and surveys and weeks or months into the project and much analysis, a marketing campaign would come together and sales would start coming in.  This process didn't happen EVERY time -- but it did happen quite a bit.  Even in the industrial bare bones marketing companies I worked with.

But with the onset of social media and DIYMarketing tools, the time lag between marketing research to sales has shrunk significantly.  I'm struck by how many traditionally "marketing research" functions have migrated to other areas of the business.

Take design testing for web sites.  This used to be a marketing research function, but with Google Analytics and Google Optimizer Landing Page Oprimization and the testing of message effectiveness has earned a new name and a new place in the marketing function.  In my opinion it's still "research" of sorts, just called by a different name.

Net Promoter Score as also moved into a more active role in business.  Of course companies still ask if you're "Likely to refer" but in addition to that, they also give you the opportunity to put your money where your mouth is and refer right then and there - by giving you the option to tell a friend.  Another twist on this is to give your site visitors the option to give you feedback on the spot.  I saw this example in the Marketing Technology Blog:

Of course, you can also use tools like IdeaScale and MicroPoll to create other customer engagement opportunities on your web sites and blogs.    Then use the information that customers provide to create an offer that they are more likely to buy more quickly.

The idea isn't that market research is smaller or less.  The need for customer information hasn't gone away, in fact, it's become more important than ever.  What's missing is the creative applications and strategies that market research provides to help shorten the information to closed sale .
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