Marketing has changed—and we're the ones changing it. As consumers focus more and more on online purchases and, more recently, with Covid-19 causing a surge in the uptake of eCommerce, organisations are fast pivoting their traditional and digital marketing strategies to draw consumers to their business.
Here at Perceptive, we've also discovered that marketers and market researchers who want to be successful in this new arena need to be able to marry the two disciplines together.
The benefits of traditional market research methods
Traditional market research methods have one goal: to better understand what drives the behaviours and attitudes of a company's customers. Often taking the form of self-reported surveys, they help business owners uncover new avenues for growth, but also to reaffirm assumptions of how to best serve the market, and the strategies they have in place. Analysis of a survey could, for example, uncover an untapped fanbase among a particular demographic, or develop personas to better understand your different types of customers.
The digital age has made these traditional market research methods easier and more cost-effective to implement than ever. With the right expertise and platforms in place, organisations that wish to outperform their competitors can get the benefits of investigating the effects of behaviour, attitudes and thought processes.
Combining the findings of these traditional research methods with claimed online behaviour makes for more effective and targeted digital and marketing strategies. However, there is one limitation. A customer's journey in the digital world is rarely linear. There are hundreds of avenues they may go through, which means a customer's actual behaviour could look quite different to their claimed behaviour.
Related content: The power of actual behaviour versus claimed behaviour
The shortfall in traditional methods
Often there is a shortfall between what people say they do, and what they actually do, particularly when it comes to online behaviour. Connecting the dots between online and offline becomes invariably more difficult.
By combining traditional methods with digital analysis, you can discover where those disconnects like—from analysing the content people are engaging with in your online store to harnessing transactional data to understand what, how often and how much they are purchasing (at a group level). When you are able to segment this data demographically or on product/service groups or interests, you can start to see how your different audiences behave: what drives purchasing decisions, a factor that traditional research won’t necessarily uncover.
Related content: Digital disruption: how to excel in digital customer experiences
Digital plugging the gap
Rather than relying on self-reported data and all of its inherent issues, business leaders can now use technology to directly understand how people are living their lives online and making decisions. Instead of just asking what people do, we can actually observe what they do directly.
This gives market researchers unprecedented insight into what people do online, where they go, what they look for when they get there, and their journey on the web up until the point of purchase or exit—and that’s just the start. Transactional data, for example, can allow us to understand how consumers buy, whether they are truely loyal to a business, and the impact your marketing and promotional campaigns are having on your actual sales—and whether they are driving new or repeat business.
Combined with traditional methods, market researchers and business leaders can now answer some of the most difficult questions that businesses have asked for years more accurately, namely:
- What is driving customers towards my site?
- Are customers truely loyal to my business?
- How do I make my digital strategy/activity work more effectively?
- Is my marketing attracting new customers or re-engaging existing ones?
- What are my customers actually engaging with during their digital purchase journey?
- How can I make more profitable marketing decisions?
- How can I make my budgets work more effectively and reduce waste of spend?
Where traditional methods might give insight into the thought processes of your customers, digital analysis can give insight into actual raw behaviours and bridge the gap between offline and online. When you overlay online behavioural and attitudinal research, you can actually understand what they are thinking, what they say they are doing, and what they are really doing while online and interacting with your brand.
Traditional and digital: two sides of the same coin, and when used together are an extremely powerful tool for anyone who needs in-depth customer insights—which, in the highly competitive business world of today, should really be anyone.
Delivering effective marketing comes down to one thing—excellent market segmentation. Learn how to target your key customers and improve your marketing effectiveness with our free guide!