The Government's announcement outlining a roadmap out of the latest lockdown has given businesses a clearer picture of what 2021 will look like. It has been a prolonged period in which customers and clients have not been able to interact with businesses in the way that they used to. Therefore, re-establishing that connection through considered and targeted marketing is essential. All good marketing should be informed by a strong foundation of insight. This customer insight can be gathered through several means, all of which offer their own unique benefits.
For instance, a focus group can be used to best effect when you want to know what people believe, how they feel, and what they perceive. Other research methods, for example, online surveys, can be used when you are interested in what people do and why they do it. Harnessing the power of technology in market research is exceptionally useful in the current climate, as many insight exercises can be conducted online in a Covid-safe manner. Here are some of the key methods that can be used to reconnect with customers this year.
In essence, focus groups are discussion groups conducted with a specific focus in mind. The main purpose of the focus group is to get people talking. These are sometimes perceived as just another style of interview. However, the interactions that develop among the members of a group are what make focus groups an ideal arena for testing hypotheses. Focus groups also allow you to put a brand, product or idea into its everyday context. The findings from a focus groups can also be tested further using a quantitative study to see if they are typical of a wider audience.
For example, a focus group may not be the most efficient or accurate method of establishing what percentage of an audience prefer a certain version of an advertising campaign. But, it may be a useful way to discover how that audience determines what they value or find interesting in advertising. It can also help to learn how they would be influenced to find out more. In addition, participants appreciate the opportunity to air their views directly, to be listened to, and have their opinions directly influence a business.
With platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype to host and moderate video discussions, market researchers are now able to collect data from a diverse audience without geographical limits. This provides far more representative views of the general population should you require them. According to data from Mio, the number of monthly web Teams users increased from 39.2 million in January and February 2020 to 187 million in March 2020. This makes it far easier to gather a wide range of customer insight without worrying about physical boundaries.
Online surveys also provide an excellent low-cost method of surveying customers. Many online survey platforms are integrated with tools to analyse data and produce reports. It should also be no surprise that more people are using their mobile phones to complete online surveys, so it is worthwhile bearing this in mind. In fact, data by Clear Seas Research suggests that up to 40% of online surveys are completed on a mobile phone.
For simple surveys to gain a quick snapshot of opinions, sites such as Google Forms offer limited customisability and analytics accessible through your Google account. Other sites such as SurveyMonkey and Typeform offer more complex options on a range of free and paid plans. A recent example of a Mackman Research survey is our work with Essex County Council, where feedback from Essex businesses directly informed the Council’s Covid-19 support scheme.
By making significant or even small changes in tune with what your main audience groups are telling you, you will naturally have more cohesion with your existing and future audiences. This in turn means more visits to your website and an increase in the uptake of your services, more purchasing, and many more happy customers. Online surveys can also help to assess the market to identify both up-and-coming and established competitors.
To summarise, conducting customer insight allows businesses to understand their consumers' ever-changing needs and expectations, whether they are B2B or B2C focused. The businesses that best manage change are the ones that will be in a stronger position to capitalise on increased customer confidence over the next year. Communicating with those customers to gauge their opinions and views will ensure that any investment in marketing is well spent on enhancing customer experience.
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