Essential Consumer Research Tips | A Q&A With Analyst Shelly Kramer

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"Know your customer" is a marketing commandment. Without a deep understanding of their pain points, preferences, motivators, and attitudes you can't effectively reach new customers or nurture existing ones.

Getting that deep, nuanced knowledge, however, is easier said than done. From data aggregation to thoughtful analysis, conducting and leveraging your own consumer research is time-consuming and resource intensive.

But according to Shelly Kramer, principal analyst and founder of research firm Futurum, leveraging the web, surveys, focus groups, and social listening can help you quickly unearth valuable insights. Discover the rest of Shelly’s research tips by reading our Q&A session with her below.

A Q&A With Principal Analyst and Founder of Futurum, Shelly Kramer

Q: Data is plentiful. But insights are what marketers need. What should be their go-to data sources for researching and pulling consumer insights?

I think that more information is always better than less, especially when I’m the one doing the research. There are, of course, different kinds of research. We might be working on a research project sponsored by a client, or we might be doing a competitive analysis for a new or existing client, or we might be doing our own research for a report we’re developing.

The web, of course, is a powerful source of a wide variety of information, but that information requires a lot of review and vetting. Insights gleaned from peer networking groups and/or surveys and focus groups is also powerful.

Lastly, social listening is an extremely important part of pretty much every equation. We employ social listening for our own family of companies, for our clients, and for various research projects on a regular basis, and comprehensive results wouldn’t be possible without it.

“We employ #sociallistening for our own family of companies, for our clients, and for various research projects on a regular basis, and comprehensive results wouldn’t be possible without it.” - @ShellyKramer

Q: Siloes are a common roadblock when it comes to data and insight. How can organizations share insight across teams and build a data-driven culture?

What a great question!

Research that only you, or the people who worked directly on the research project, know about doesn’t do much for the greater good. Building a data-driven culture across the company is critically important.

Internally, we use a variety of different ways to share research insights internally:

  • We have weekly meetings where we review the latest projects/research/insights.
  • We share that information in a collaborative forum where all team members have access to it.
  • We do client-facing webinars or develop white papers or research reports that highlight the research insights.
“Research that only you, or the people who worked directly on the research project, know about, doesn’t do much for the greater good.” - @ShellyKramer

Q: To meet customer demand, brands want holistic, 360-degree views of their customer. How can they obtain that view?

I think the most important part of having a holistic, 360-degree view (and equally as important — a real-time view) of the customer is to understand the importance of social media insights. This isn’t something you should do on an ad hoc basis, it should be something brands do on a regular and ongoing basis.

I’ve seen instances where new products were developed wholly because of insights gleaned from social listening — products the brand hadn’t previously thought about, but which customers expressed a desire for. I’ve likewise seen instances where social listening allowed brands to identify potential problems and develop solutions in a proactive, rather than a reactive manner, all attributable to social listening.

I think the most important part of having a holistic, 360-degree, real-time view of the customer is to understand the importance of #socialinsights. - @ShellyKramer

Q: Data, insight, and technology are integral to digital transformation. Why is it important to include research in the digital transformation process as well?

Think of it like this: We don’t know what we don’t know — until we know.

If you’re not gathering intelligence, actively engaged in the process of research and analysis, how can you possibly know what’s happening — both in your industry as a whole, as well as in the world in general?

With a topic as broad as digital transformation, where entire industries are being reconfigured as a result of the integration of technology into business operations, where employee skill sets are changing, and culture is continually evolving, staying informed is mission critical.

Research and analysis are as fundamental to engaging in the digital transformation process as anything, no matter what the size of your company.

Research and analysis are as fundamental to engaging in the process of #digitaltransformation as anything, no matter what the size of your company. - @ShellyKramer

Q: Social media is a hotbed of customer insight. Why are these insights important for creating frictionless, omnichannel experiences?

Your customers are DYING for you to get the customer experience right.

Every day, I encounter something that makes me cringe because, somewhere along the way, a brand hasn’t thought about what the customer experience is like. They do what they want to do, never thinking of or looking at things through a customer’s eyes. It’s so infuriating. Beyond that, it’s incredibly dangerous. Every brand is one step away from being cannibalized by Amazon.

And price is no longer the differentiator. The differentiator is the experience. How customers feel about your brand, what they think of when they think of your brand, and how passionate they are about doing business with your brand — that’s what keeps them coming back.

Social insights are everything when it comes to creating frictionless, omnichannel retail experiences.

Price is no longer the differentiator. The differentiator is the experience. #SocialInsights are everything when it comes to creating frictionless, omnichannel retail experiences. - @ShellyKramer

You Can’t Do Consumer Research Without Social Media

As Shelly highlighted throughout our conversation, social media (and the insights produced from social media) are essential to performing thorough, valuable consumer research that leads to exceptional customer experiences. Consumers are telling you who they are, how they feel, what they want, and how they want it over social media — and you need to start listening to them.

Discover how you can start your social listening journey to produce actionable consumer insights by checking out our ebook, Climbing the Social Data Ladder. You’ll find more tips from Shelly, as well as three other digital transformation, social analytics, and research experts:

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Follow Shelly on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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