One of the fantastic features of a digital marketing world is the ability to facilitate a two-way communication process. This is in the sense that not only can marketers push their materials onto a digital platform, but they can also learn about their audiences in the process.
What they learn is hard facts and data collected through analytics and multiple-choice customer satisfaction surveys. The question is though, is all that data actually worth anything?
The Rise of Digital
The digital world we now inhabit has opened a whole new world of opportunity for marketers, providing not only new platforms but also entirely new means of displaying media and interacting with customers.
As brands have realised the potential of this new digital world, they have begun to pour hours and hours into the collection and analysis of vast quantities of website data and metrics.
This data can be a wonderfully helpful tool, allowing marketers to understand so much about their audience … to an extent. Through this data, it is possible to grab a snapshot of the way your audience was behaving at a given point in time, their age, location, device and whatever else you decide matters.
The same approach has been adopted in the world of customer satisfaction surveys, where every little interaction with a brand will lead to customers being sent three different surveys, all multiple choice, all limited and all bound to irritate people.
What this data does allow brands to do when collected in such volumes, is publish figures and statistics, demonstrating that they’ve hit however many KPIs and are so much up on last year’s figures.
With such masses of hard data being hoovered up, it is well worth asking the question “Why?”
The Death of Market Research
One of the major draws of data-driven digital marketing is that it’s relatively cheap and relatively quick to collect. What seems to have been lost in many cases though is actual market research, which data collection is not equivalent to.
Actually taking the time to understand your audience is time-consuming and requires serious budgets. Each quarter the IPA publishes its Bellwether Report, which for the last quarter showed that market research investment was down by 2.9%, a trend which has remained true for at the very least the last two years, if not longer.
The reason that market research is so important is that it allows you to do something that data cannot, to understand and predict your audience’s behaviour as well as learn what would make them happy.
It is far more important to understand trends, to appreciate the reason behind the numbers and figures. This is what allows brands to adapt and change their methods dependent on predictive behaviour.
The real end-goal of both data collection and market research is customer-centricity. This has become something of a meaningless buzzword for some marketers, something to be touted whenever things aren’t quite going right.
In the process of mistaking data collection for market research, brands have seemingly begun to mistake the targeted advertising which it facilitates for customer-centricity.
Part of the reason that customer-centricity is often left by the wayside has something major in common with the fall of market research: budget. Unlike the hard data metrics which many marketers have become so fond of, customer-centric branding cannot easily be traced back to the bottom line, at least in the short term.
However, if you think back to those brands whom you’ve had a positive interaction with, they’re most likely the ones that you went back to. This repeat custom doesn’t reveal itself until further down the line but is hugely valuable.
In order to create a truly customer-centric brand presence, it is necessary to collate all of the tools that we now have available to us. This means combining the data we collect with healthy doses of time-consuming, costly but absolutely invaluable market research.
Only through a complete and varied approach is it possible to execute genuinely effective marketing activities, even if that does mean spending a little more time and investing a little more money and thinking in longer time frames.
To experience the benefits of truly customer-centric marketing, get in touch with Formation today.