Today’s marketing is fueled by data. But the mass of information at every marketing team’s fingertips brings inherent challenges marketers must overcome. Performing effective market research in the age of data is no easy feat.
Empirical research has become convoluted by the overwhelming number of data points regarding customer behaviour and the market for products and services. When marketers don’t have a proven methodology for deriving insights, money committed to market research can be wasted.
Recent data breaches and privacy concerns are changing the way marketers can use data. Many U.S. states have differing data security legislation, for example; companies must meet compliance with these standards to avoid penalties. And on a larger scale, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, enacted earlier this year, introduced much more cohesive standards and harsh penalties for the misuse of customers’ personal information.
GDPR compliance is altering the future of digital marketing, as consumers now have to actively consent to the use of their information in targeted advertising. These changes in data access and legislation are making it difficult for marketers to perform effective marketing research. In turn, brands using that research — either from their in-house departments or from third-party firms — are hurting.
One of the biggest consequences of these data concerns is ineffective marketing due to a lack of understanding GDPR regulations. Not being able to derive insights about customers limits marketers’ abilities to direct ads to their specific audiences. That leads to wasted marketing dollars and a less efficient business model. Return on marketing campaigns is likely to fall, and it will become more difficult to drive traffic, find leads, and grow a business no matter the industry.
To remain competitive, companies have to find new ways to overcome these challenges. Staying relevant in the marketing space will soon depend on looking at data analysis in a new way. Here are three tips to begin navigating market research in a changing world:
1. Develop new advertising strategies
Regulations such as GDPR have given rise to contextual advertising. While companies are no longer allowed to collect users’ data without consent, websites can still keep track of what users view and sell ad space to brands on what they perceive to be a customer’s interests. Marketers using this method are employing contextual advertising, i.e., placing ads on website pages that are directly relevant to a marketing campaign.
Getting ads to appear on relevant pages is typically the result of keyword targeting, making Google AdSense and YouTube Ads valuable platforms for those launching contextual advertising campaigns. These tools enable marketers to place relevant videos, images, and text alongside content that consumers are already searching for. The key is to craft specific ads around groups of keywords or site pages, which maximizes relevancy, clicks, ROI, and conversions.
2. Narrow your research
The number of data points marketers have to sort through can be frustrating. When it’s overly time-consuming to find answers, it can be helpful to narrow down the questions. For example, instead of finding the products a broad audience wants, use a different variable, such as a narrower section of that audience. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution; every business should identify the metrics that are most useful for its target audience.
Stakeholders from a range of departments should help determine these metrics, not just your marketing team. Make a point to collaborate with each of your team members to identify both pain points and aspirations for consumer interactions. With that information in mind, you can segment your visitors into categories to get more granular information in areas that matter to your business as a whole.
3. Use modern solutions for modern problems
The marketing tactics of 10 years ago are not always suitable for today’s hurdles. Issues stemming from new technology require a solution that ensures the technology is adapting to marketers’ needs, not against their goals. For example, marketers can use predictive analytics to learn about customer behavior, and they can train these capabilities not to push the boundaries of new privacy regulations.
Instead of using the personal and behavioral data of one customer, predictive analytics can take the behaviour of groups of customers and tie it to more tangible KPIs such as sales. Then, insights can be derived about a specific category of people relevant to the company’s goals. When it comes to effective marketing research, it pays to work smarter, not harder.
Modern marketers are being inundated with a growing pool of data and increased security legislation, so the market research that drives effective campaigns needs to evolve to keep up with these shifts. Following the tips above can help you hone your market research efforts to ensure you continue to succeed amid these changes.
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Find out more about the Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) international event series, arriving in Amsterdam from September 19-20 and New York from November 7-8.