In today’s experience economy, CMOs are responsible for evolving their organizations to meet new customer demands. But changing the way a brand engages with its customers is no small task and marketers are quickly realizing that the big data they’ve worked so hard to collect isn’t producing the insights they need.
Enter the researcher. Long seen as the person who performs largescale studies once or twice a year, the researcher is now an essential part of driving transformation. It follows that the demand for their skills is increasing: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates market research roles will increase by 23% by 2026.
A notable area of demand for research skills? Marketing. In fact, a survey sponsored by FocusVision found that marketers initiate 60% of all research.
Bringing the researcher and the marketer together is necessary for businesses to create relevant customer experiences. However, it’s made challenging by differences in methodology, approach, consideration and personality. Here are three tactics for bringing the marketer and researcher together.
Understanding the demands of someone else’s role is a key aspect of collaboration.
From a researcher’s perspective, it’s a case of learning when to go with good enough and when to go deep. For marketers, there is substantial pressure to prove value and move at top speed.
Start by conducting smaller, quick studies to get bite-sized data that can be used right away. This will get you moving in the right direction while giving you time to figure out the bigger stuff. The initial data needs to be translated into top-line findings and made actionable.
As you continue to dive deeper with new studies, make sure to repeatedly go back to existing research to ensure you’re building on it.
To maximize impact, learn to celebrate the differences in respective approaches and skillsets. The marketer needs to slow down and stop speculating while the researcher needs to speed up, potentially pare back and keep the overarching objectives at the forefront.
After you get initial programs into market to satisfy the immediate asks from the business, it’s time to figure out the big stuff.
We approached this at FocusVison through three large research studies on our customers. We used three trackers—brand, CSAT (customer satisfaction) and NPS (net promoter score). This research became the basis of our messaging, personas, brand story, product positioning and content strategy.
Most importantly, a foundation like this is built on what our customers think and feel as opposed to gut or instinct. Concrete insights like this make it easier to get full support from the board, executive team and alignment between sales and marketing.
For marketers, insights into your Customer Truth will save time and money and help you connect and create experiences. When the foundational pieces of marketing are informed by the Customer Truth, you’re not having an opinion-based argument with sales, execs or even other marketers.
You’re not going to get it all right in one go. One study isn’t going to tell you all you need to know about your customer and one advertisement isn’t not going to engage them. You need to iterate and build on all you have learned and, at times, question whether it’s still valid.
At FocusVision, this meant that a meeting with salespeople led to three days of angst over whether we had gotten everything wrong. But because our strategies were based on insights on what customers thought and wanted—not gut feeling—we were able to push ahead with confidence.
However, just because the strategy was based on the customer, doesn’t mean we got it all right the first time. Big data from our website, email clicks, LinkedIn data and so on, told us what our audience was responding to and what they weren’t.
Bringing together small data and big data helped us to constantly evaluate and refine our tactics to get people to respond.
Understanding customers in their entirety starts with the researcher understanding what people are about and uncovering how they think, feel and act. It’s then up to the marketer to take that information and build experiences that people will respond to.
In short, no marketing department should be operating without researchers. It’s not just about the insights, it’s about having those with a voice that are able (and allowed to) see the whole picture and not just consulted on the study at hand. The researcher finds the why to inform the marketers how. Bringing the two together creates an undeniable advantage for the business.