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    Why Your Marketing Department Needs Data–Now

    Mark Simon, Managing Director, North America/Managing Director, Toluna Digital

    Making a purchase is no longer a direct path; it’s a winding, non-linear quest. As companies face ever-increasing competition for each customer’s trade, it is critical to have an accurate, up-to-the-minute view of how customers are making decisions and, by extension, how they’re scoring the business. Further, the need to make important business decisions with reliable, actionable, and high quality customer data is of paramount importance to staying relevant and growing.

    In order to tell the whole story behind consumer decisions, businesses need technology to capture relevant and accurate data from a variety of sources. Perhaps even more importantly, businesses working to stay ahead of disruptions need this technology to gather data quickly–with the related labor-intensive processes removed via automation–so they can intelligently answer their toughest questions in real time.

    Harnessing Data

    When it comes to leveraging big data, it’s not about gathering as much data as possible. It’s about gathering the right data that will help marketers understand the customer, prospective customer, and the marketplace at large.

    This distinction is especially important in the era of social media in which the squeaky wheel often gets the grease, meaning businesses pay a disproportionate amount of attention to vocal consumers who may not represent the full customer base. This predicament is exacerbated by the fact that predictive models that worked well during the direct path to purchase days are no longer reliable. To get the most out of their data strategy, marketers should focus on two key areas of research: primary and secondary.

    Secondary research encompasses the data types that have traditionally been readily available to a business, like transactional, point of sale, and sales data. Secondary research provides insight into the “what” behind consumer decisions. Primary research includes self-reported data like surveys, focus groups, and social media feedback. This type of information provides insight into the “why” behind consumer decisions. Once a business knows why its consumers are making the specific decisions they’re making, that research can be incorporated into the marketing decision-making process to help uncover and launch new revenue opportunities.

    Putting Technology To Work

    Research done right can influence decisions at every level of the business. Whether it is a major product launch in a new market or the placement of a purchase button on the Web site, data can give executives confidence that their initiatives will succeed. Not only does automated research allow marketers to more easily test new concepts, it also enables them to speed up the decision-making process and expand the number of decisions that are evidence-based, helping to fuel growth at the business.

    For Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle, new product development is a critical variable for success. It is also a very expensive process that equates to a significant amount of risk for its CMO, Chris Pruneda. Brownie Brittle mitigates this risk by capturing consumer insights from DIY consumer research and survey tools so they can make well-informed decisions about products that impact the future of their business.

    In the past, companies with limited marketing resources like Brownie Brittle weren’t conducting research, and too often the best guess had to be good enough. Concept testing with the technology available today requires nothing more than the ability to upload the appropriate media or advertisement. When businesses rely on technology and automation to quickly leverage the data they already have at their disposal, they can rigorously test concepts with limited resources, helping to ensure a successful go-to-market strategy or launch.

    The Need For Speed

    Today, customers and business owners alike want new products and iterations completed in hours, not months. Through the use of technology that yields immediate results, businesses can actually use data insights to frame–and to some degree predict–an event or activity. This process empowers marketers to take control of their brands or products before they are exposed to the media or the public, all within the compressed timeframes in which modern companies operate.

    Research technology can unlock new potential for all companies by helping marketers and business owners anticipate and react to consumer opinions immediately. Engaging in this marketing activity enables any business to transform itself into an agile organization–one that is able to discern the consumer quest to purchase and make better decisions in an uncertain, fluid world.

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