In the last two articles of this series, we discussed the role of market research and tech innovation in business today, and we’ve deep dived into how the marriage of research and technology is shaping the market and helping businesses navigate and engage with their customers. With this under our belt, we want to now help our business leaders of today and the tomorrow understand how to use market research to positively impact sales and the bottom line as a whole.
Insight has tremendous power to create competitive advantages for small businesses today to help carve out their rightful place in the market. From product testing and sentiment tracking to customer feedback and purchase behaviour, we are well aware that ‘knowledge is power’ and of the strong benefits of data, especially for small businesses.
The onset of the global pandemic, and indeed everything in its wake including the economic impact, social and cultural movements, and political changes, has impacted every aspect of our lives. This applies both personally and professionally – from healthcare and education to work, relationships, and buying behaviours.
The changes we have experienced over the past few years are so significant that they have created moments in time like never before where people have been thrown off the daily treadmill and forced to reflect on what is important to them. Business is no different – the impact has been far reaching across companies of all sizes, and has forced their leaders to rethink the way in which they approach and engage with customers, internal and external stakeholders.
The questions business leaders must ask themselves today centre around these changes:
Are you armed with the right resources, tools, and technology to truly understand the impact of these changes on your customers?
Do you know how your business needs to adapt to reflect this?
Where do you start and how do you implement the right practices?
As people and environments change, technology is key to garnering human insights. Market research is designed to help keep pace with change, and when tech and research come together, they have the power to curate the deep human insight that today’s businesses need more than ever before.
1. Create an Arsenal of Consumer Insights
As a business leader, you must be dialed into your customer. In fact, I would go as far as to say that understanding customer behaviour needs to become a passion for every successful business leader – the holy grail is getting to the point where you can anticipate and respond to your customers needs at every touchpoint and across the whole of the journey, no matter how much they may fluctuate.
Human sentiments are shifting rapidly in this post-pandemic era, and as such, the need for faster and more robust data and insights in line with tightened budgets and timelines are growing at breakneck speed. Successful business leaders are those that actively listen to and engage with their customers, to be able to adjust based on their changing needs. It is absolutely critical to continually take the pulse of customer sentiment to track sentiment analysis consistently.
Now that you have these insights, you can go a step further in reaching your customers, and ResTech offers a valuable opportunity to re-establish trust. Beyond just analysing your first-party data and customer insights, leverage this data to create authentic messaging that will resonate with your audience. Once you understand what’s most important to your customers, you will be able to adjust your tactics accordingly.
Harnessing the power of first-party data – collecting, gathering and analysing the data you have to hand and coupling this with other market research insights can help you better understand shifting sentiments, buying patterns, and behaviours to help paint a better picture of the overall customer journey and what is of most importance to them throughout the process. What’s more, tools and tech allow you to also accurately extract customer details to identify these shifts at the exact moment they’re happening – these insights can be invaluable when used in line with your sales and marketing campaigns.
2. Prioritise Business Agility
If the last year has taught us anything, it’s the importance of being able to pivot – even in those unusual circumstances of not knowing where you’re pivoting to!
Agile processes have been tried and tested in the IT industry as a de facto standard for rapid roll out and response for particular systems and solutions that need quick implementation timelines. This scalable approach has been so successful that it is now adopted widely across many lines of business within many industries and sectors.
The role of technology within market research follows the role of agile IT practices, by enabling real-time insight gathering and an ability to collect and analyse data in shorter windows of time than ever before.
ResTech has the potential to not only carve out your changing customer personas, but to also help increase the efficiency of your business operations. Beyond pivoting with your customers’ changing sentiments, an agile approach to research, data and analysis can also extend to inwards and can help improve employee satisfaction and retention.
In today’s day and age where the health, wellbeing and inclusivity of your employees is business critical, this can have huge implications. Whilst customer engagement and purchase behaviour is important to business growth and revenue, so too is ensuring you do not lose sight of the sentiments of your employees too. Truly understanding the needs of your staff and stakeholders will drive internal efficiencies, enhance team management and morale, and ultimately have a massive impact on the bottom line. After all, happy workers are productive workers!
3. Measure to Prove Your Worth
To keep pace with regulatory changes such as the demise of the cookie, new data practices are finally beginning to put the customer first and with sentiment being transient and ever changing, marketers must take notice of how this can impact their business reputation and market position.
As data plays such a crucial role in providing a relevant customer experience, businesses stand to gain better insight from tapping into their own insights, which is more relevant and effective for measuring and building out comprehensive go to market campaigns. The key to making the most of your first-party data and insights lies in forging the right partnerships and building internal resources and in-house capabilities.
The ability to directly monitor and measure your campaign health is critical to understanding the full impact and performance of your marketing. Bringing the tools that enable you to use different methodologies in-house will help you get under the skin of the data and make decisions accordingly to obtain the full picture of your customer.
The right partner can offer transparent, real-time access and flexible options to help you manage this in-house in an easy, cost-effective and efficient way. For example, at Lucid, our customers can integrate our measurement technology directly into their own existing systems and dashboards.
As we set our sights on 2022, it is more important than ever that businesses do their due diligence if they are to succeed. The UK is expected to return to pre-pandemic growth levels by the middle of next year, and the small business market in particular will be crucial to this.
It has been estimated that small to medium sized enterprises accounted for more than half of the private sector turnover and private sector jobs in the UK in 2020. The global pandemic has raised many challenges, but equally presents a lot of opportunities for agile business leaders to approach the market in a new way where perhaps other businesses are less able.
As the global economic outlook unfolds into a new year, businesses will need to adapt their model, approach, and ‘north star’ vision to what is fundamental to their core in order to meet demands of the evolving here and now. The stakes will continue to be high against the backdrop of constant change. Now more than ever, business leaders will need to be agile and flexible, to tap into market perception and customer sentiment in order to keep pace and adapt to the moment of today’s fluctuating world.
Ben Hogg, Managing Director, International, Lucid
Ben Hogg is Managing Director, EMEA and APAC, for Lucid, where he provides the strategic and operational direction for the company’s sales and marketing initiatives. In this role, Ben is responsible for leading and managing Lucid’s sales, post-sales, and global marketing teams to drive further growth and support revenue expansion for the company. Ben’s career has spanned more than 20 years working across the online market research and passive measurement industries as a leader and entrepreneur. He is an expert in identifying new market opportunities and in laying the foundations for long-term business growth through his strategic direction, operational execution, and team management.
Prior to Lucid, Ben was the MD, EMEA for Research Now's Portfolio Companies, following their acquisition by e-Rewards, where he was responsible for launching their European business in 2006. Ben is a Fellow of the Market Research Society (MRS), and MRS Accredited Company Partner Council Member, and MRS Award winner.