Using marketing research to improve decision-making

Using marketing research to improve decision-making is a key aspect of success.

There are several marketing research concepts to use to improve decision-making. These techniques are market scanning, qualitative, quantitative and digital.

Market scanning is the acquisition of information related to the relevant market. It includes trade publications, competitor news, customer news, Google searches, industry news and personal observations. Effective marketing managers scan the market to understand trends, current events and changes in the market. Effective marketing professionals understand their market conditions with an eye on how the market is evolving and changing.

The relative value of qualitative and quantitative analysis strategies often is debated. The trend in marketing is toward more quantitative and less qualitative due to the rise of customer relationship management systems and digital analytics.

My opinion is that effective marketers use both. Quantitative analysis tends to ask the “what” of marketing. Qualitative analysis tends to ask the “why” of marketing.

Let’s say sales increased last month. That’s the “what.” The quantitative analysis can describe where the sales increases occurred. The “why” is the reasons for the increase in sales. The “why” can then be repeated and leveraged for continued success.

Quantitative analysis involves measures of numbers, often with statistical methods. Typically, quantitative analysis leads to descriptions of relevant marketing metrics. Useful quantitative measures include A/B tests, standard deviations, means, modes, averages, confidence intervals and significance. Quantitative data is used in predictive modeling and data mining. Facts and data should be the base of marketing research.

Qualitative analysis involves the insight into relevant marketing issues and opportunities. Qualitative tools are focus groups, personal interviews, observations and surveys. These tools can provide valuable insight for marketers. Qualitative tools can be used for quantitative analysis in many cases.

For example, a consumer might be asked a question on brand loyalty on a scale of 1-5. This qualitative question is quantified. The key to effective qualitative analysis is to gain insight into the “why” of the marketing research.

Digital marketing research is both qualitative and quantitative. An example of qualitative is to review comments on social media for feedback. Quantitative analysis (including analytics) would be number of views and engagements on social media. Polls can provide relevant information. Digital marketing research is fast and responsive. Trend data through time can be illustrative. For example, a steady increase in engagements indicates a successful strategy.

Marketing research should be an integral part of the marketing process. Market scanning, qualitative research (why), quantitative research (what), analytics and digital marketing research are effective tools. Effective marketing research has the potential to enhance the decision-making process.