The benefits of using data from multiple sources in market research | Insights

Unless you're considering a range of sources, your research lies

August 2020


  • James Chutter, Digital Strategist

When it comes to designing a campaign, research is a crucial source of vital information about your brand and your marketing. But unfortunately, that research in isolation often lies.

Time and again, agencies and brands lose out on the benefits of using data from multiple sources before making big decisions. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, especially in the digital space, clients need to evaluate as much data and research as possible to make the right decision. Otherwise, through relying too heavily on a single source, brands might as well be just guessing.

But a thorough, comprehensive approach to research involves tapping the diverse perspectives available within your own organization as well. Opening your marketing approach to insights from product, technology, and brand teams reveals new avenues for discovering new and unexpected solutions.

Ultimately, this inclusive approach to viewing a problem from multiple directions translates to more work for marketing leadership. But the ability to triangulate data from a broad range of sources allows you to consider how those results relate to one another. From there, you can draw your own conclusion toward the best solution for your needs.

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Single-source data can’t be trusted with your campaign

User testing is a crucial means for your brand to understand its customers, their feedback, and what they need. We’re staunch believers in testing as a means of gathering feedback at every stage of a campaign, including after launch. It’s important to evaluate a broad range of data sources to measure how well an idea is performing with your audience. Because the fact remains, no one test will provide you with a single source of truth.

For example, consider the exit surveys that pop up on many e-commerce sites. While these can offer helpful suggestions to marketing teams, anyone taking the time to respond to these typically fall into two camps: super fans of the brand, or those who are very angry about their experience. As a result, these results exist along a massive swing in perspectives that leaves out neutral customers, which are the bulk of your site visitors. For all the word clouds and data such testing delivers, it’s dangerous to place too much value in these findings. You need to step back and think about the audience before taking cues from their responses.

And realistically, we understand the appeal of a single research source. The data arrives with a nice summary page from an outside company or enterprise tool, and these are easy for marketing leadership to review. Moreover, conclusions like these feel as if they eliminate a measure of risk. By acting on the results of one survey, you can avoid using multiple sources to form your own opinion. And those can be scary to follow – after all, what if you're wrong? But at least you're spending time with your data to figure out what it really means

That said, as much as we’re advocates of research, we also recognize the possibility of overthinking through testing. Without consistent focus on your brand's original problem, research can be an infinite rabbit hole. But as a marketing leaders, this is our job to determine what our users want with the tools at our disposal.

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Effective, comprehensive research targets the reasons behind user behavior

The most effective research combines two types of data: qualitative and quantitative. Through qualitative research, surveyed users will describe their goals while using a given digital project. Built on non-numerical responses, qualitative data is used to determine motivation. Quantitative data is more numbers-driven and measures hard results, which reflect what users actually do when using your site.

Analyzing what drives user behavior is helpful for designers to ensure we build something they want. But until we look at the quantitative data of what users really do, we don’t really know if the solution we built served their motivation or got in the way. The most effective research taps into both of these approaches.

Anomalies in quantitative data like a lack of visitors to a given page inform critical questions when gathering qualitative feedback about your project. By recognizing a quantitative outcome and digging deeper into behavior with qualitative surveys, we can uncover the underlying causes of a given result. Without the extra step of asking why, a vital part of your digital project could be killed off without analyzing the reasons behind low user numbers.

Used together, qualitative and quantitative data provide vital marketing insights. One gives us a clue about the user’s problem, and the other potentially helps us find the solution.

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A diversity of data leads to stronger conclusions about your digital project

In a competitive, digital-driven business climate, marketing teams have a wealth of options to gather data and inform decision-making. And these options can be overwhelming – so much so that we understand the appeal of listening to the first results you see about your project.

But there are so many more perspectives to consider. Even within your own organization, you could face disparate pieces of research from your business metrics team, SEO team, and brand tracking team that all generate different conclusions.

These can be challenging to incorporate, but information from multiple sources brings you closer to the truth. By looking at a diversity of data, you build more diverse thinking, and diverse thinking leads to more effective problem solving. Given how many people feel marginalized in their workplace, we must understand the importance in giving our colleagues a voice. Considering input from multiple departments invites new conclusions based based on different backgrounds. When you apply more perspectives toward solving a problem, the ultimate solution grows stronger.

With our extensive and holistic approach to research, We the Collective can assist in navigating the best data sources and help make sense of it all. If you want to learn more, let's talk.