Market research as a way to build customer relationships

JANUARY 9, 2012 – Market research is typically used to give companies a better sense of the targeted marketing tactics that audiences will respond to best. However, viewing that insight as a shallow thing, one that can only help to convert customers, is the wrong attitude, since it can convey to consumers that the relationship between them and the brand is no deeper than their latest transaction, Chad Little – Fetchback’s president and CEO – writes for 1to1 Media.

“The bottom line is, consumers are smart,” he says. “If all your retargeting ads are solely conversion-focused, consumers will see your brand as a transaction.” Sales may spike briefly, but their loyalty won’t increase, and they’ll be less likely to make a purchase on the days when there is no deal or special discount running, Little continues.

The practice of targeted marketing has traditionally been used when a company – such as an online retailer – is trying to win back a customer who has been browsing but has not completed a purchase. Usually, it’s a direct response tool, he notes, but it can also be used as a way to brand the company and start building a connection between the buyer and the seller. With a more meaningful customer-brand relationship, the retargeting may deliver a higher ROI that’s realized over a longer period of time.

To prove his point, Little cites research from comScore that revealed retargeting campaigns which ran for four weeks drove searches for the featured products up 1,046 percent.

“Consumers exposed to retargeted ads don’t just go back to a website to purchase and then call it a day, the ads also directly influence their search behavior and brand recall for the products advertised for at least a month,” he says of the study.

Conducting market research and analyzing data is one of the best ways to effectively retarget your consumers, Little remarks. Ignoring the vast amounts of available information on customers’ behavior, purchases and intent is shortsighted, and would only result in “static retargeting ads” that don’t do much to engage the customer or deliver any value to the company.

“To make retargeting work to build customer relationships, your ads must be automatically optimized in real time to reflect your target’s preferences as they shift,” Little advises.

When it comes to the design of the ads, keep in mind that you are trying to make a deeper connection with the recipient and gain his or her trust. Develop messages that call on the consumer to act – by signing up for a newsletter or posting something through social media – rather than just hitting them with a sales pitch, he suggests.

As KXTV points out, social media connections are some of the most powerful ways to break through all the noise on the internet and deliver messages that resonate with people.

In addition to providing more access to consumers’ preferences and data, social networks provide a less expensive forum for a company’s marketing materials. The news station notes that it can also speed up audience members’ response, particularly if a special promotion is time-sensitive.

“It also allows you to create sampling opportunities, promote to a captive audience, and, while consumers are actively engaged, potentially drive interest in higher-margin goods,” KXTV says. Social platforms and blogs also create opportunities for brands to publish relevant content that is valuable to the consumer. Offering educational resources will not only position a company as an expert in its sector, it will also increase its online presence, the source says.