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Market research, consumer data need accuracy too

FEBRUARY 3, 2012 – Market research can obviously be a major asset when planning out an advertising campaign or trying to determine how consumers respond to a brand’s messaging.

Yet many organizations fail to understand their target audiences and their markets, according to Dynamic Business. In order to get a better sense of how a company’s ideal customers think and behave, it’s necessary to conduct market research by analyzing how visitors to a website interact with the content, how they respond to social media efforts, what social and economic demographics they belong to, the current state of the market and more.

“This research has to be done before developing a product, launching [a] marketing campaign, speaking to potential investor[s], or even before deciding to open the business,” the source notes. “Otherwise your business may become the victim.”

Running online panels, distributing customer research surveys and analyzing the competition are just a few of the ways for a business to stay ahead, the news outlet notes. It’s also necessary to keep striving to do better. By “continually innovating – through the introduction of new technologies, services and/or products – customers will place a higher value on your organization than on your competitors.

However, those insightful decisions will be useless if the data on which they were based was inaccurate, inconsistent or unreliable.

A company needs to have a plan for what it will do with the information, and then it can start monitoring online behavior and sorting through it to remove errors and repetition, Michael Shashoua suggests in an article for Waters Technology.

As Chad Richeson writes for GigaOM, building up a corporate culture that revolves around data is one of the overarching goals of a Big Data integration and management project.

He argues that Big Data goes far beyond technology or having employees who can parse the numbers and analyze the results. “It’s about creating a business-centric approach that connects a company’s data to its business strategy, enables continual improvement, and follows through to impact processes, margins and customer satisfaction,” Richeson explains.

Echoing Shashoua’s advice, he says the first step is to have a strategy that works the data into the rest of the company’s operations and has ties to each department.

The system will also need to be well thought-out, with storage structures that can adapt to the organization’s ever-changing needs. Like Shashoua, Richeson also focuses on the importance of data quality for business analytics and market research. Rather than taking on the attitude that this issue will be a one-off project with a point of completion, understand that data quality is a constant battle and must always be top-of-mind.

There should also be a layered approach to maintaining accuracy and reliability in the database – mastering (building accounts), collection (tracking customer interactions) and metadata (organizing the data for future reference). From there, work to develop ways for automating the process.

Communication is a major factor in the success of a data quality initiative. It’s vital to clearly express the company’s data-related marketing and operations goals to everyone on staff, and soliciting feedback from employees will also ensure that the program continues to evolve and improve as it goes.

“Regular feedback ensures your Big Data system is tightly integrated into business decision making, so it can play a lead role in business improvement,” Richeson notes. By doing this, the company will be able to cut down expenses while increasing efficiency, making it more competitive against other brands and marketers.

“The Big Data frontier is here; breaking through it requires an understanding of which steps will help you drive the most impact,” he concludes.