A company, ultimately, is nothing without its customers. So, they need to make it their business to know all they can about them. To do that, organizations need lots of research and data.
Market research is the crucial process of gathering data to understand your target audience and customers.
This process will give you valuable information, such as where your customer base, target audience, or potential customers research your company. You’ll also discover what’s trending in your industry according to customers. Most importantly, market research will reveal what your customers and target audience want and need and what influences their buying decisions. Unfortunately for many companies, the competition is quite fierce. While customers may enjoy the breadth of choices, organizations usually don’t.
In order to enable buyers to find you early in their buyers journey and choose you over competitors, marketers have to go where customers are. Where are they, you ask? Well, market research will indicate where customers commonly conduct research on products or companies, but traditional market research won’t give the whole picture.
The trend between social media and online shopping is undeniable. In fact, Adri Nowell, with Martech Series, wrote in May of last year, “According to our report, 1 in 5 consumers say it’s important or very important to be able to discover and purchase products directly from social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest – a 17% increase over last year.”
The general public isn’t just casually accepting social media and e-commerce into their lives, they're embracing it wholeheartedly. They want easier shopping methods and the ability to conduct company and product research. As the public turns more toward social for not only shopping, but social interactions, they will judge your company based on your online presence and the experiences your customers share on social media. Did you know that roughly 80% of social posts are about the author of the post? That means any of your customers that comment or give reviews on your social media platforms will most likely be talking about their own experiences.
In other words, they’ll be giving your company unsolicited feedback! Social media can greatly enhance a company’s market research capabilities and insights. As much of the public migrates online, understanding their online behavior— their virtual habits and patterns— are just as important as their real-world habits and patterns. Social listening provides many of the insights market researchers need today. It shows where conversations around your brand, products, and industry are occurring, which platforms they primarily use, and reveal less biased customer expressions of wants, needs, and perceptions in relation to your products or company.
There are five main types of market research: exploratory, specific, public sources, commercial sources, and internal sources. The first two fall under the umbrella of primary research and the last three under secondary research.
Primary research, firsthand information on your market and customers, helps segment your market, define buyer personas, and refine or update past knowledge about the market or personas.
The first step to most primary research is the process of determining all the facets and factors of an existing problem. This type of research rarely provides conclusive solutions, but it does point to where more research should be conducted so a company can arrive at solutions. For example, a company may see an increase in customer churn. With exploratory research, companies can dive in and find out why. This type of research tends to be conducted through small sample surveys or open ended interviews.
Usually follows exploratory research and dives into the problem with the goals of completely defining an issue and identifying opportunities to solve them. This kind of primary market research usually is performed with a more specific audience.
Social listening can greatly enhance a company’s ability to perform primary research. For exploratory research, companies can utilize social listening’s ability to gather unsolicited feedback. A company can set up a monitor with specific parameters that focus on conversations around the problem they’re experiencing and their known market. Then the data flows in and companies can analyze it for patterns that will highlight why issues may be happening.
For specific research, the issues highlighted through unsolicited feedback can now be addressed with the intent of gathering solicited feedback. For surveys sent out via social media, targeted advertisements can put a survey in front of the right people, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to answer. With social listening, companies can find the right audience as well as the most active one and where they’re talking. Then, in an attempt to limit bias, a company could ask an influencer in the group to send the survey out, which will likely garner more responses.
Secondary research is nice because it’s all been either gathered for you or data you’ve collected through past primary research efforts. Focuses for secondary research tend to be market statistics, industry data and content, sales data, and customer behavior trends. Sources for secondary research include public, commercial, or internal.
Are usually go tos for most companies because they’re easily accessible and, generally, free. These sources are primarily government statistics such as Census data and Bureau of Labor & Statistic reports. Government resources usually provide a general overview of nationwide industries. They show general revenue increases, customer trends, market reports, and a lot more.
Consist of research agency market reports. These reports don’t just focus on nationwide industries. Some reveal the state of worldwide industries or even the status of mom-and-pop shops. Since these sources are company owned, they usually cost money to obtain.
Unfortunately, are often forgotten. This data is one that a company has gathered before, usually in the form of in-house data. These include valuable insights into your company’s place in the market, particularly from a customer perspective. This data shows customer retention rates, revenue per sale, cross or upsell trends, and other important historical data.
Can assist in these secondary forms of market research. Sometimes the political individuals in a company’s customer base will use stats from public or commercial sources as a way to express displeasure in a company's association with certain other companies or in a company policy. Often, these individuals will link to their public or commercial sources in their argument on social media. In this way, social listening will alert companies to sources that either they didn’t know about or their audience tends to pay attention to the most.
In regards to internal sources, companies will oftentimes either ignore social media data or just scratch the surface. But since the general public is using social media a lot, companies cannot underutilize social media data. This data will show which of your content has peaked customer interest, which has engaged them more, and what products they do and don’t like and why. Although, similar data can be gathered from other internal sources that tell nearly the same story, it isn’t the whole story.
The first step of social listening market research is to understand who your customers are. Discovering who they are is fundamental to understanding why they make the purchasing decisions they do. Buyer, or marketing, personas are generalized representations of the ideal customer for each target audience. For many Enterprise companies, you’ve had your personas outlined for years. But with traditional market research, those personas may not be complete. Again, social listening can reveal the whole story.
Let’s say Soapy Sue is a consumer packaged goods buyer persona. She is a mother who purchases soap for her family. You’ve likely outlined her household income, whether she’s a working mother, and what age she is.
With social listening, you can refine the persona. Traditional market research focuses on gathering persona information about income, job titles, gender, and major challenges that address why this target persona would need a company’s offering, but this information is solely focused on their life situation and monetary value to the company. It doesn’t really answer who they are, what makes them tick. Social listening answers that. Going back to Soapy Sue, social listening can reveal common likes and dislikes among your audience. And not just with your product, but with trends and hobbies. Social listening, for example, may reveal that Soapy Sue tends to like dub step and read historical fiction. This kind of information can help companies create a wider breadth of marketing initiatives and customer touchpoints that promote customer loyalty through a positive customer experience journey. For example, a company with a Soapy Sue persona might make a deal with a publishing house about a historical fiction book that is predicted to do well and offer discounts to their audience for the book along with some of their own products.
Utilizing social listening to define or refine a buyer persona allows companies to know their customers more intimately and can open doors to new possibilities for creating positive customer experience touchpoints.
While discovering customer trends and hobbies is really beneficial to know, they can be hard to determine. Traditional market research methods usually try to determine these by selecting a small group of people that recently purchased and in fit a buyer persona criteria. This focus group is given surveys online, over the phone interviews, or in person discussions.
These are great methods that will certainly reveal many target customer characteristics and habits, however, there is a greater chance of bias in these surveys as customers share what they think a company will want to hear. Social listening can help lessen that bias.
Simply monitoring your audience can help you segment your personas and discover their true opinions. For example, in December of 2019, we noticed that Netflix had a giant spike in negative sentiment. As we investigated, we saw that the majority of negative sentiment was coming from Brazil-native Portuguese speakers. We then segmented the data so it would show only Portuguese social post.
As you can see, the two datasets tell completely different stories. With this information, Netflix was able to learn more about their Brazilian audience's opinions and shift their efforts accordingly.
With social listening, companies can hone in on each persona and observe their, nearly unbiased, behavior. There may be some social bias, but at least they won’t be giving companies information they think they want to hear.
Another perk with social listening is you don’t necessarily need customers that recently purchased for your focus group, although that’s still beneficial. They can simply be people that frequently comment and engage on a company’s social platforms. Sometimes, the best people to answer your questions are people you don’t see, but influencers can.
Influencers make it their business to know and connect with their audience. They’re personable and that’s why people gravitate towards them. They can often point companies to the right people needed for surveys that help define customer behavior, if not take it themselves. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for decades, influencers will help— you just need to find the right ones.
Engaging with Participants
Now that you’ve thoroughly researched your buyer personas, you can better reach out to your customers and engage with them. As we’ve shown, influencers can be a great resource for pushing out surveys and finding great participants.
Usually, followers on social media are only reached out to when more participants for market research are needed. When this happens, companies need to know how best to engage customers on social media.
Armed with more complete buyer personas, a company can better create content that will peak customer interest. In this case, a survey might be designed a certain way, still within brand of course, like having a quippy title. You've probably heard that content should be short and eye catching on social media. While this is true, be careful not to get caught up just in those details. The best way to get customer interaction is create content that resonates with them. As you further develop or complete your market research, you'll be better able to marry social media tips and tricks with resonating content. It is always wise to ensure any and all contact with customers goes through the right channels and approvals before customers see them.
To create a social customer experience that will draw customers to a company, all touchpoints need to reflect well on the brand, with a focus on developing loyalty behaviors in customers. With collaboration tools aimed at taking observations from social listening to publication, companies can intentionally place the right content in front of customers.
How to Respond
Once you’ve taken the content through the collaboration process, you can then engage with them as they respond to the surveys for your market research.
With traditional surveys, over the phone interviews, and live discussions, marketing researchers need to be careful about leading the conversation. Open ended questions are usually the best in all situations. If the study is performed on social media surveys, make sure the questions are clear and the method of giving answers is easy and simple. Even if customers on social media agree to take the survey, they likely won’t do it if the process is difficult. Social media’s all about ease.
The response hopefully won’t look like this example, but with Nuvi Engage, you’ll be able to assign someone to reply and manage the process with times selected for response. When you’ve got a survey out, it can be helpful to manage the responses you get on social media so you can ensure all are answered. This will build customer loyalty and make them more likely to participate in a survey again.
Analyze your Research
After this whole market research process, what has your company learned? Well, what if you had an easily generated report that would show your findings through social listening endeavors?
Nuvi’s reports compile data from social listening monitors and dashboards. The reports are editable so you can show specific information. With these reports, you can easily present your market research, compare past reports, and even recreate reports that have been lost.
Utilize social listening to give compelling social media insight that will inform and complete all other market research performed.