May 17, 2023

Vox Pop: Does data actually gather a better, more comprehensive picture of who the customer is? ...Or is it just more data points that cause confusion?

Date & Time (GMT):
May 17, 2023 12:47 PM
Date & Time (EST):
May 17, 2023 12:47 PM

When it comes to data, more is better, right? Does data, including social data, actually gather a better more comprehensive picture of who the customer is or does it offer more data points that cause unnecessary confusion? We asked our experts to find out their opinions. Here’s what they had to say…

Jeremy Hollow, MD, Listen and Learn Research

Yes and yes.

The more we know about something, the better we can make decisions about what to do.

But the old ‘wood for the trees’ adage comes to play here too.

We’ve been trying to boil data down to a single variable for years (NPS, Sentiment). It’s not really working.

I understand the desire for data that gives us a simple, clear direction. But we also need our data to be accurate, valid, reliable and capable of inspiring us.

The problem is that when you reduce data complexity to a single measure, you lose the detail that drives insight and creativity.

We need to be more like Shrek and acknowledge this (onions have layers, Ogres have layers). We need to accept that consumer insight has layers.

A single layer of data can’t tell us all we need to know about consumers. People can't be reduced and understood with 'singularity'. We're more complex than that.

If we can move beyond this, we can start thinking about the data layers we need and how each layer builds up to create a more powerful picture.

A model could look a bit like this :

1. What are we doing to the world (e.g. what advert comms are we sending out? What products/services do we offer? What/who do we say we stand for?)?
2. What are other people putting out there (e.g. competitor activity)?
3. What’s happening in the world in general (e.g. COVID-19)?
4. What have consumers told us (e.g. through traditional research)?
5. What do we know about consumer transactions (e.g. purchase or analytics data)?
6. What have we observed about consumer or socio/cultural behavior (e.g. through social qual)?

The role of Insight is to build these layers with the best data we can, then find the golden thread through it which leads to the killer idea.

We should all spend a bit more time helping different data sources play nicely together.

Chris Bingham, Chief Technology Officer, Brandwatch

First, let’s remember the purpose of all these data points: making better business decisions through a better understanding of consumers. If you have the right data points, you’ll gain insight into consumer preferences and trends, and from those insights, you’ll be able to build more successful products and create more successful messaging.

So far so good. So, what data points will lead to the insights that power those business decisions? Let’s think about data depth versus breadth.

Data depth means that you know more about one specific thing, like an individual customer. For example, customer engagement and marketing automation tools try to build composite records of each customer’s behavior, so you can interact with them most effectively. That data is helpful, but it’s narrowly focused and narrowly applicable.

Data breadth means that you know more about many things, from many perspectives. For example, from unprompted social data or prompted survey data you can learn what your consumers care about when they’re not interacting specifically with you (which, let’s face it, is most of the time!).

Broad, multi-perspective data is particularly valuable, because it leads to diverse insights with diverse applications, from product development to marketing to PR to competitive analysis.

Javier Buron, CEO, Audiense

To avoid the confusion (that can be created) a professional needs to discern when quantitative vs qualitative research is required or flexible to answer what type of questions. I often see the confusion coming from that point. Platforms like Audiense always try to balance the signal of important insights vs not acting as a black box so the professionals understand where the things are coming from.

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