Research Done Right

Episode 10 August 30, 2022 00:20:37
Research Done Right
The Loop Marketing Podcast
Research Done Right

Aug 30 2022 | 00:20:37


Hosted By

Elise Stieferman

Show Notes

Are you relying on biased syndicated survey data?

Is your marketing research giving you meaningful insights?

Are you searching for the "BIG IDEA" in your marketing research? 

In this episode of The Loop Marketing Podcast, you'll learn new ways to approach your marketing research and find the data that ACTUALLY MATTERS. Two of Coegi's seasoned marketing strategy and research experts - VP of Marketing & Innovation, Ryan Green and Account Strategy Director, Savannah Westbrock - share their insights and tips. 

What you'll learn:

-How to use multiple research sources to formulate your ideal marketing strategy

-How to find true insights using a more journalistic approach  

-Ways to use research in a cookieless world

-Tips to identify and avoid research bias 

-Practical ways to use research for day-to-day campaign optimizations 


What are the types of research marketing strategists should be looking into for insights? How can challenger and start-up brands go head to head with established, legacy brands using research?

How will the cookieless future impact marketing research? 

How to balance qualitative and quantitative research? 

What research tools to use during campaigns to keep a pulse on performance? 

What are the most common pitfalls marketers make with research? 

How do you find the 'big idea' in your research? 


Coegi is a performance-driven marketing agency for brands and agencies enabled by a best-in-class technology stack to deliver specialized services across digital strategy, programmatic media buying and integrated social media and influencer campaigns.

Learn how Coegi can work with your brand or agency:

Read more on our blog:

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View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Elise: Hello, and welcome to The Loop Marketing Podcast. I'm your host, Elise Stieferman, Director of Marketing at Coegi. Let's get started. Today we've got Ryan Green, Vice President of Marketing & Innovation, as well as Savannah Westbrock, Account Strategy Director, talking about strategies to fully research media plans. So to kick us off, what are the different types of research you feel like strategists should be looking into to find insights that really propel the brand forward? Ryan: As media has evolved to be a lot more than just the blocking and tackling of impressions and GRPs, so too have the tools we've used to really research and understand audiences to understand the industries and verticals that our businesses are in. We traditionally have used syndicated research, things like MRI Simmons, to help us understand media consumption, but brand challenges are so much more than that. We do need to lean into competitive analysis and we have more competitive analysis tools at Coegi and just generally for the industry, to let us really understand what the industry, the verticals and competitors are doing. I think there's also a qualitative element too. We have a lot more data from the social platforms, being able to use social listening tools, that I think are really important. Savannah: I would add on your qualitative point, you know, I come from a journalism background, so I think when a lot of marketers think about research, we go to our tools first and we sort of forget everything else at our disposal. So approaching it with that mentality of, okay, let me do a Google search first. Let me read what the press coverage has been on this topic. What's happening in the vertical? What's happening in the industries that might overlap with our client's interests? You can get a lot of really strong insights out of that to help contextualize the kind of data that you can get from syndicated research tools, platforms, everything else out there. Ryan: And the last thing I would say is also looking at your own data historically, what has a client already done when they've been in-market? Evaluating what's been successful and not for them. A lot of that has to do with measurement, but I look at historical data from clients as a first place to be able to understand where they've been, how, especially with digital tools, to get to a starting point to understand and build on that quantitative analysis, but then layering in the qualitative data as well. Elise: I think you bring up an interesting point. Something that we deal with a lot at Coegi is clients who are in very different stages of their brands. We've worked with startups as well as established household names. So for those brands that in that startup phase the challenger brand phase, how do you help bring them to the forefront and be competitive with others who have been advertising for years? Ryan: In a lot of ways they have a blank slate, right? They can draft off of what the legacy brands are doing and really learn how to be more efficient. I was talking to a challenger brand last week who's going head to head with somebody who's been the leader in the business for 30 years, a CPG brand. And we were looking at the inefficiencies that legacy brand had on television - having a lot of duplicated reach when they were advertising those same audiences in the same vertical in the same way. You can take that and say, “Hey, our competitive tool says that our largest competitor is spending $10 million a year on Twitter. Well, maybe we shouldn't play there. Maybe TikTok is gonna be more effective. There’s a lot more white space there”. So that's one way you can really learn from what the behemoths are doing and do the opposite or find more effective ways to engage your audience. Savannah: Yeah, challenger brands have the opportunity to be a bit more creative with their strategies, and be a bit more innovative. I’ve found, especially working closely with challenger brands, they're not shy about being a little bit scrappier. They're more willing to say, okay, I know that TikTok is maybe not one hundred percent something I'm comfortable with, but why don't we try it for two to three months and just sort of reevaluate? I think there's a little less red tape when you're working on a challenger brand versus a household name. Ryan: And I think the challenger brands can take some non-media related data and use that in a more efficient way. Brands that were able to really understand what was going on in the ground with COVID, maybe in a travel vertical, may have been able to advertise to places that weren't hot zones or vice versa. We have a financial client that is looking at inflation numbers and knowing what’s going on and being able to have almost a predictive model, not from media, but in the economy at large to predict when and where and why they should be advertising. Elise: Thinking about the marketing landscape, things are changing all the time and something that we are keeping our eyes on is the cookieless future, and being able to be nimble with that. So do you think that marketing managers, or practitioners should be thinking about research in a different light when thinking about the cookieless future? Are there tools that are going to no longer be effective that we've historically relied on as more of a data-driven strategy has emerged? Ryan: There's a couple things I think you have to think about. We started talking about the historical analysis, some of that data you may have used for analysis isn't going to be actionable going into the cookieless future, right? So, maybe you have a discovery that a very specific niche audience had the highest return on ad spend for your brand. You may not be able to target them later in the same specific ways. So how can you take that insight and develop a contextual strategy or maybe develop an influencer strategy to still reach that audience without that data? I think that's one thing to be looking at. And it also means that there may be some more qualitative signals that are gonna be just as important as some of the quantitative ones as well. Research is both an art and a science. You need to have some specific numbers in front of you that can justify some of the assumptions and hypotheses you're making. But you also need to trust your gut and especially people who have been in the field for a while, or people who are familiar with the brand, marketers that have been with their same company for 10 years, you probably have a good instinct of who your audience is too. So just because we have so much quantitative data in front of us, let's not ignore the intuition that you've built up as well. A lot of times that's right, and it's a lot cheaper than doing some longitudinal studies that can have a pretty big price tag. Elise: So how do you determine when you've been using too much science and not enough art in your research and take a step back to have the intuition come forward, and let the creativity be explored? Savannah: Well, I think it starts with just getting an understanding of what the methodology behind the research you're viewing actually is. That's one positive shift we've seen in our industry, as we've talked about regulation and the cookieless future, is people have that understanding of, “okay, if I don't truly take a step back and understand what I'm reading, understand what I'm looking at, I'm not necessarily going to know what I can trust and what I can't trust”. And I think that just underlines what Ryan was saying - oftentimes your gut and your team conversations are going to become increasingly valuable when you're looking at platform data, for instance. That's not as expansive as it once was. Syndicated research studies maybe have a little bias in them as well. You know, people answering surveys on the street might not one hundred percent be truthful with how much time they're spending on YouTube in a day, Ryan: But the cookieless future coming there means that AI is gonna be less effective. And for years, digital marketers could probably skew doing some deeper research because the algorithm was going to auto-optimize towards your highest propensity users. With some of that breaking down, I think there's going to be more emphasis on planning and more emphasis on finding the right research and being accurate in the research phase and not just giving it to the algorithm and letting it go. So I think it's going to be very interesting to see if the research muscle has had some atrophy from marketers that have just allowed black box algorithms to make decisions. Now the decision's gonna come back to the hands of marketers a little bit more. So, it's gonna be really interesting to see which brands are able to shift and be able to continue to have a growth mindset when it's not machine learning, that's gonna be driving as much. Elise: So I know it's a best practice for a lot of agencies to conduct quarterly business reviews, to look at what's happened over the last three months and look at where do we foresee going? And then, as we move forward, what are the tools and platforms that you lean on in those in-between moments to keep a pulse on what's happening with your brand and not just looking at a snapshot of one quarter at a time? Ryan: I think there's a couple things. One is having a very sound measurement strategy from the beginning, whether you're reliant on a lot of automation or whether you're doing a lot of direct buys, you need to be able to measure what matters from the beginning. That makes mid-flight optimizations a lot more clear and a lot more impactful. Savannah: I would say practically speaking in the day to day, in addition to having a strong measurement strategy, you really have to commit to not just setting and forgetting a campaign. So looking outside of your platforms as well. One thing I like to do, if I'm working in a specific vertical, is set up Google alerts for key trends that are relevant and monitor Google trends. Certainly there are non-Google resources as well that I probably need to look into, but I've found that those are just really reliable, simple and straightforward to use and share with clients who maybe don't have as heavy of a research background. Those who maybe wouldn't totally understand if I'm giving them language about percent change in indexing. Elise: So what are the most common pitfalls you've seen marketers be challenged with when it comes to doing the upfront research, for the media strategies and how do you help them navigate those challenges? Ryan: I think it's, there's so much data available in research, that you can pretty much prove most points that you want. If you think the audience is Millennial Moms, there will be evidence somewhere that will point to yes, that is who your audience is. So there can be some bias in the way statistics are used in the news, that can be used to justify anything you want it to. So really being able to be agnostic and honest and allow the data to tell the story and not find the story or the data to tell your story is an art that media planners need to be able to focus on. Savannah: The other side of that is you have to accept and be transparent when your research and data doesn't back up your hypothesis. That's one of the more powerful things you can do in terms of forming relationships with the people you're working with is saying, you know, we came to the table making this assumption, the research is indicating otherwise, so maybe we should pivot, or maybe we should adjust this strategy. Ryan: And I think, adjacent to that point, is a lot of times you're finding research that may be important to you as an agency person or from a media perspective, but your clients really don't care right? Or maybe the direct relationship you have with a brand director, maybe it's important to them, but isn't really impactful to the CMO or the board of directors. So a lot of times I think you have to take a couple different angles with it. You need to be able to answer the question that's in front of you in a brief, but I think you also have to think about a couple layers, where that gets passed to as well and what's really going to be impactful for the brand and not just impactful for your media plan. Elise: So I think that's an interesting topic to explore. Thinking about the question behind the question, essentially. And I know as I've worked with brands and agencies, there's always the desire for the big idea that's going to keep you sticky and flashy. So when you're being tasked with finding the big idea, where do you start? Ryan: I think it starts in different places at different times. If you have a predestined big idea in your head, that's probably the wrong way to start. You need to ground yourself in a variety of types of research. We kind of talked about some of those buckets, whether it's historical data from campaigns, competitive analysis, Google trends or knowing what's going on in a vertical, but you don't wanna force it. However, you do have to come up with that idea. And a lot of times we only have a couple weeks to conduct that research. And if you're on a pitch team, something needs to be placed that is a big idea. So you do have to start making some assumptions and trying a couple different versions. You don't want to get to the eleventh hour and not have that story or central theme, because it's going to be hard to build a compelling case around that. So there's some timing to it, but you should just immerse yourself in all of the different angles of data you have and hopefully the idea comes to itself. And hopefully, it comes from a couple of different types of data sources too. If the syndicated data and the historical data is saying the same thing that your intuition and spidey sense is telling you - that's probably a good direction to go in. Find those supporting facts around that. And then field test with some of your colleagues too and say, is this something that's breakthrough? Is this something compelling? Is this something that's unique? There's a lot of non-unique ideas in marketing. A lot of people come to the same conclusion when looking at evidence too. So, there's a creative component to getting there. Savannah: Well, and I think that's where taking that journalistic approach can really help you too. Because we talk a lot about data and trends and all these resources, but truly if you have a solid understanding of who your audience is or who you think your audience is and how they behave, just mimic their behavior for an hour or so. If they are heavy Twitter users and you know the data is indicating they use these hashtags - actually read through that content. Go to the subreddits that they might frequent. Watch the things that might be relevant to them. You know, maybe don't do the Netflix watching on company time, but really explore it and see if those insights are really going to be dug out of the way that your audience is actually living day to day. Elise: So if you were going to give a marketer your one piece of advice of how to do research well for your media strategy, what would you say? Savannah: I would say don't limit yourself. Don't put yourself in a box and think, my company subscribes to these three tools, I need to use these and only these. Really let yourself take a creative approach to your research process. Ryan: I agree. You need to start small too. You can get into analysis paralysis very quickly. So it's fine to start with the three tools your company subscribes to and ground yourself and go deep there. But then shift to that qualitative approach, the journalistic approach. Getting in the mind of the user, the Google trends - that softer stuff is what really ends up finding the emotion and telling the story. And a lot of times, it gets the communication strategy into a good place that you can use the syndicated quantitative research as a springboard to a really 360 complete way of looking at a problem. Elise: Great! Thank you both for your time. Thank you for listening. Coegi is an industry leading performance marketing agency based in the Midwest. We've learned a lot since our founding in 2014 and started The Loop Marketing Podcast to share some of our hot takes on marketing trends. We're following best practices we've discovered and actionable tips for improving your digital strategy. We'll see you next time!

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