Let’s face it — if market research is known for one thing, it’s surveys.
Surveys are a staple in market research, much like focus groups, and they’ve become the popular market research tool available, but that is for good reason! Surveys are adaptable and creative, but they’re also straightforward and effective at gathering the data that researchers need in order to generate actionable insights.
Data transparency, engaging insight reporting, and tactful moderation and panel management are just a few more signs that are worth a mention, but the most prominent sign, is that it goes beyond surveys.
But surveys are not without their limitations, and market research is so much more than just surveys and focus groups. There are so many industries and academic fields that have tools/techniques that have been integrated into the insights industry’s arsenal, it’s well within a researcher’s capabilities to create a full rounded research experience that is both efficient and engaging. With that in mind, what makes a mature insights strategy?
It Reflects the Objectives and Direction of the Business
The thing all insight professionals will come to realise sooner or later, is that research that isn’t created with both the business and research objectives in mind will not be as effective as is necessary. Ineffective research leads to nothing more than adequate data and generic insights that don’t inform decisions as much as they should.
The first sign of a mature insights strategy, is that the research experience is planned in such a way that it reflects and works towards producing high-quality data and insights that are capable of achieving both research and business goals. This planning stage is crucial, and if it’s not done to this standard then the rest of the research experience won’t be as effective no matter what happens.
If you’re struggling with the planning stages of research, we’ve put together an explanatory article and helpful template to get you started.
Combines the Power of a Few Different Tools/Techniques
There are plenty of innovative tools and techniques for insight professionals to choose from, so why do we stick so closely to surveys? With areas such as behavioural economics, psychology, and video gaming overlapping providing plenty of innovative opportunities for market research, we should really be taking advantage of these new techniques which are proven to increase the accuracy of and engagement within market research.
Combining surveys with other more innovative tools such as Virtual or Augmented Reality, Gamification, or Biometric/Behavioural tools will only serve to enhance the data collected from each tool, and thus enhance the insights strategy. For example, surveys are great for quantifying the data from behavioural or qualitative techniques if the stakeholders request for numerically-based insights.
It Resembles an Agile Research Experience
While structured research experiences are effective in some research experiences, such as evaluating the success at the end of a campaign, an agile research experience is the strategy that is proven to be effective in most research situations. There are many benefits to conducting an agile research strategy; for example, one of the best practices a researcher can adopt is to only collect the data that they need. The ‘nice to know’ data is recognised by those creating mature insights strategies as unnecessary and too risky. So, one of the best ways to combat this issue and stop collecting unnecessary but equally sensitive data is to conduct a truly agile research strategy.
Most insight professionals know that agile research strategies are also the best chance of obtaining high-quality data and insights that directly inform the decisions that need to be made. While this is the preferable end result for most research experiences, the mature insight strategies are more likely to obtain this outcome. With the research process evaluated at the end of each stage and the results of this influencing the future stages, this strategy can be moulded and redirected, meaning that every party gets the most of the research experience with truly actionable insights.
For guidance on how to create and implement an agile research strategy, the basics can be found in another of our articles here.
The Insights are Acted Upon
An insights strategy doesn’t just encompass the time it takes to conduct the research and generate insights; a mature insights strategy also includes the actions of a business at the time decisions are made. This is perhaps the most important step of any research strategy, and is one of the strongest signs of a mature insights strategy.
Research is conducted always conducted for a reason. The data that is gathered is sensitive information that consumers are willingly giving up for the right purpose. To not take action upon the insights that are generated is to do your participants a disservice. But that isn’t the only consequence to not acting upon insights. Acting upon the insights that were generated is crucial as it enables businesses to bring about much needed improvements and innovation that are more likely to be successful than changes that aren’t informed by research.
The Strategy is Adaptable and Replicable
As long as there is business, there will be a need for insights and research. The last sign of a mature insights strategy that I’m going to mention, is the need for successful research experiences to be adaptable throughout the experience, and replicable at the end.
A mature insights strategy is bound to be more complex than a simple survey-based strategy, however it shouldn’t be cluttered so that it gets confusing. Clarity is the end goal for any insights strategy.
Agile research strategies are definitely the most adaptable research experience, that’s what their whole existence is based on! But they’re not the most replicable in terms of duplication; each agile research experience will be tailored to the situation and the objectives of the time, and so as these evolve, so much the agile research strategy. The all-important replicability will come in the form of the continued generation of top-quality actionable insights.
Beyond Surveys — Complex, but not Impossible.
The signs discussed above are only a few of the many signs of a mature insights strategy, and there will be many more that arise as the insights industry and it’s techniques evolve. Data transparency, engaging insight reporting, and tactful moderation and panel management are just a few more signs that are worth a mention, but the most prominent sign of a mature insights strategy, is that it goes beyond surveys.
Surveys are reliable and a great starting point for a research experience, but in order to build on the data generated from the initial survey, other techniques from different disciplines. The trick, is the choose the type of strategy and techniques that will work well for the purpose of the research and compliment the initial survey.
A mature insights strategy is bound to be more complex than a simple survey-based strategy, however it shouldn’t be cluttered so that it gets confusing. Clarity is the end goal for the insights strategy, both in terms of insights it generates and the research experience itself.
The original version of this article appeared on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.