Chart of the day: Market research budgets have been cut whilst marketing budgets are being sustained

Market research (increasingly referred to as "insight") budgets are taking another cut this year, according to research by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, whilst marketing budgets overall have not grown. As few as 8% of respondents signaled growth in their insight budget whilst just over 26% of respondents indicated marketing budget growth. The analysis shows it's the worst prediction for market research in over four years of data collection. One reason for the fall in budget could be that businesses are using non-traditional research methods, doing fewer large-scale annual research projects and instead focusing on more cheaper, innovative techniques, such as the use of research communities, online focus groups and cheaper providers such as Survey Monkey Audience, Ask You Target Market and Toluna Quick Surveys, rather than using…

The best tools for understanding your online marketplace?

I find that on training courses, the tools I recommend to help marketers are always popular, especially the free tools... At a course I was asked for a list of “essential tools” for digital marketing, so here they are… 2017 update: I originally created this list in 2012 and thought it was due an update since the feed reader tools and keyword tools have changed. We aim to review and compare tools for managing different digital activities on Smart Insights, so we have many of these tools covered in other posts, so I’ll link to these where relevant. There's a diverse mix of free tools available, one of the enjoyable aspects of working in digital marketing today. I’ll start with the most widely used. Please let us know about the “essential free tools” you use in the comments. For many more tools suggestions - check out…

Use these 'Voice of the Customer' Tools to gather qualitative data on your customers

Web analytics can provide the what, the when and the how, but struggle to deliver the why and the rationale which explains the numbers from your analytics tool. 'Voice of the Customer' tools can run continuously in the background, be focused on specific pages or be time-based, gathering detailed feedback on barriers to conversion, design issues, user confusion – all useful and actionable insight for marketers. These tools allow you to go beyond the quantitative insight of analytics tools and provide a deeper layer of site visitor feedback. Tools in this category are growing in popularity and include general website feedback, crowd sourced product opinions and exit survey functionality.

Key things to consider before purchasing and using these tools:

Be careful not to request too much data. Just like us, users are put off by surveys that are pages…

An introduction to best practices for using buyer personas to create more customer-centric websites

Creating personas of website visitors is a powerful technique for helping increase the usability and customer centricity of a web site as part of a user-centred design (UCD) process. I've been a big fan of using personas since around 2003 I was introduced to it by Matt Dooley, a customer experience manager in the HSBC Global E-business team.  At the time, they were following reports by Forrester on creating personas. This shows that they're certainly not new, indeed their equivalent of using customer thumbnails for customer segmentation or ad campaigns has existed for decades. However, I find they're still not so widely-used when giving examples on training courses.

What is a website design persona for marketing?

A simple definition of a web persona is: "a summary of the characteristics, needs, motivations and environment of a key type of web site…

The latest GRIT report reveals that marketers and market researchers are embracing social media analytics more than ever.

Greenbook Research Industry Trends Report (GRIT) is conducted with market research buyers (clients) as well as market research consultants and agencies (researchers); it aims to track the research methods being used and how those methods are changing over time. They found that whilst mobile surveys and insight communities are now mainstream, there is a wide range of techniques that are gaining widespread adoption, highlighted in the chart below. A few years ago insight communities were new and exciting, they were threatening the use of research panels but now they really are mainstream. Brands are turning to their own research communities to conduct surveys, online/offline qualitative research, mobile surveys and qualitative projects. Social media analytics and text analytics are gaining widespread use whilst mobile for qualitative research is…

38% of our interactions with all media and communications still occurs in front of a TV. But what else do we do with our devices?

Ofcom has just released their yearly Communications Market Report, where they analyse the UK communications sector. The report sheds light on many aspects of how we use digital media and technology today, but one chart that stood out to me (not just because of the colours) was Fig 1.12 which showcases the proportion of time attributed to activity types, by device. One thing to point out about this chart: is that it is an average across all age ranges. So these will vary within different age groups. As a reference point, Ofcom have researched behaviour for each of the sections in Fig 1.4.4 if you're curious to delve a little deeper. The first point…

These tools will help you deliver better market research

Nowadays there is a great variety of different useful tools for market researchers that are free to use. Today you can use such instruments to enhance your business and significantly improve effectiveness of your work. But the wide selection means it is possible to waste your precious time for searching the best instrument among the abundance of useful online tools. To save you time, we have already made a list of the top 10 market research tools. These tools were chosen because of their free access, ease of use and comprehensive capabilities.

1. Google Alerts

Google Alerts is the most popular monitoring tool, and its interface is quite intuitive and easy. All you need is to enter the keywords for monitoring and indicate the sources (News, Blogs, Videos, and Discussions),…

Our recommendations on the top 10 free sources for Global, European, UK, US, Asia and Latin America marketing statistics

Online marketers love statistics about digital marketing. Us too. They allow us to review customer adoption of the latest digital platforms, make the business case for investment in marketing and allow us to benchmark our performance against competitors. This post is aimed at helping you if you're looking to compile your own stats by sharing, the best, most reliable free and paid sources. Everyone has their favourites, but I thought it would be useful to share the ones that I go back to most often each week as I research the updates for Smart Insights members and readers of my books. We have been keeping this post updated for nearly 5 years now since the best sources change. I've also tried to make the best international marketing sources for different regions and countries clear. To…

Optimise your customer analytics by getting the models right

Customer analytical models can deliver huge value for companies that invest in them to improve their sales and marketing activities. But even well-known big brands can get it wrong when designing, implementing and operating these models. From Barclays to John Lewis, Cineworld to Pizza Express, businesses across all sectors are benefiting from the use of customer analytics. These days, it is unusual to find a company that does not analyse customer data, even in its simplest form. Customer analytics may fall under business intelligence, marketing operations, finance or even customer support, but wherever it lies it will have the potential to improve the optimisation of sales and marketing functions. Companies often want to know which products or services specific customers are most likely to purchase, which customers need a nudge to help…

Conducting market research is a must for businesses of all sizes

For any business, market research is vital for survival and growth. Not only does it allow you to reduce business risks, it also helps to improve the competitive nature of your SME. Market research is the foundation of marketing. As a result, all components of marketing and business decisions should be supported with some level of research. There are various forms of market research, from surveys to field trials. Whether you’re starting out on a new venture or expanding your existing enterprise, when it comes to market research, there are many options available to you. To this day, many businesses continue to embark on costly projects or ventures without conducting any form of market research. It is the case that all too often, enterprises fail as the result of a lack of market research. Quite simply, the only way to succeed…

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