Will Market Research Survive?

No, I do not want to make a prediction about the death of market research as such, but rather some of its forms that have traditionally been the “cash cows” of large market research companies.

Take, for example, panel research. The very essence of retail panel research is being ruined by the growth of e-commerce. Measuring at the point of sales is becoming more complicated now.  Who can possibly register the flow of goods from numerous on-line shops, especially those outside the country? There is a missing link there, and the gap is growing.

Another area which is unlikely to survive very long is test market with measuring advertising response.  As online marketing budgets are growing and the advertising shifts from TV and radio to the Internet, the companies feel more empowered to track their own advertising campaigns and optimize them as they please.

Even in qualitative research, traditional focus groups may, to a large extent, be replaced by scanning online forums and social media for new ideas or suggestions for improvement. Moreover, the data are available globally and in real time at no extra cost!

And last but not least, desk research has become increasingly simplified through the  use online search engines and other digital data mining tools. Possibly,  in some years, complete market research reports which normally took months to create and used to cost thousands of dollars will be created in a few mouse-clicks using special software.

Think of the new World 2.0 as an interlaced, data-overflown place, where the consumers and whole markets are getting more and more transparent, with or without professional market research as we know it.  Shifting strategic weights and entering new fields of play will probably be the biggest challenge for market research companies in the years to come.

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Specifics of Advertising on the Radio

Visiting the local Radio House the other day got me into thinking about radio as a marketing means.

As the managing director stated: radio is alive and kicking. Among the  reasons he named were: firstly, the radio can be used in the background of other activities, such as daily morning routines (morning is prime-time in the radio business). Secondly, real-time shows allow for instant news updates (DJs were constantly monitoring the news situation while moderating the show). And finally  the local nature of the radio is attractive for most clients (despite the unlimited number of Internet radio channels, the majority of radio listeners stick to the local providers).  Recent research even shows a growing number of younger people listening to the radio.

Thus, radio seems to be still a factor in media planing. First of all, radio is great for locally offered products or services. Secondly, radio offers a better reach  in comparison to the Internet or the local newspaper. The format of the radio (repeating of information, background flow of information) has the potential to increase the share of mind of any brand significantly.

However, I am still not convinced that radio advertising can be used successfully for any given product. For example, for a specific, niche product, the radio advertising unfortunately causes massive coverage waste, that is the relative conversion cost is rising.

A complex product or service has to be marketed through two-stage communication model: a user is forwarded to a landing page or another source of information by the radio commercial, which again may cause distortions/interruptions  in the communication process.

Another interesting finding was that advertising alone  is often not enough, it has to be coupled with promotion, e.g. extra benefits/ discounts/special offers in order to attract the customers.  In this case the question rises if the customer has been attracted by the discount or by way the product/ service has been positioned in the radio commercial.

What is more, the product or service and the brand itself  has to fit into the format of the radio channel/ radio program where it is advertised.

All in all, the goal of a marketer in doing radio advertising  should be looking for ways to build up a share of heart in addition the share of mind.

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Generating Leads in Direct Marketing

In order to exchange quantity for quality in direct marketing, it is important to base your first contact with the customer on the following principles.

In order to stay customer-focused and exchange quantity for quality in direct marketing, it is important to base your first contact with the customer on the following principles:

1. Study the business environment of the customer. What industry are they in, what are the trends and challenges in the industry?

2. Study the working environment of the customer. What department are they in, what is their function in the company?

3. On the basis of data derived in this way, generate a hypothesis on what challenges this particular customer group might face. If you are selling online marketing services to local restaurants’ directors think in terms of difficulty in attracting new customers, local nature of the business and growing competition.

4. Generate a solution for this problem based on YOUR product. For example, a good website and professional social media activity help to be closer to the customers and build a relationship with them. They also help to optimize the offered services through soliciting customers’ feedback on their needs and desires. What is more, they create a certain level of managed publicity in order to attract new customers.

5. Describe  how YOUR product/service has helped customers with similar needs or problems in the past. E.g. restaurant XYZ has increased its customer base by… percent and overrode competition by offering better services with an interactive and appealing website.

6. Now you probably  have established common grounds with your customer and your first contact in direct marketing will be more successful.

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10 Criteria for a Usable Website

What is a usable website? Here is a handful of criteria that help you to test how user-oriented and well-designed your website is.

  1. Orientation towards the target group. For example, a B2B website should differ from a B2C website.
  2. Technical usability. Those include load times, correct display on different devices, etc.
  3. Clear-cut and easy to use navigation. The navigation should be as intuitive as possible. Also, try to reduce the number of items in navigation to a minimum.
  4. Uniform design. Use the same styles, fonts, colors, etc. on each page.
  5. Structured content. Structure the content in a such a way that a user can easily find what their looking for.
  6. Clear, compact and precise text. Avoid run-on sentences, use bullet points, headlines, etc. to make the text more readable.
  7. Up-to-date information. Watch for outdated pages, broken links, etc.
  8. Accessibility (i.e. usability for disabled users). Includes color contrast, fonts, alt-texts, etc.
  9. Search engine friendliness. Optimize your website for SEO, however, not at the cost of worse usability.
  10. Well-planned layout. Your website should lead visitors along logical and clear navigation paths.

(translated and adapted  from German, Web-Design course at VHB)

This list is useful for the evaluation of existing websites and designing a new website.

usable-website-criteria

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

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