Posts Tagged ‘research’

Customer Data via Twitter

October 23rd, 2009

Twitter’s rapid growth this year has given the micro-blogging service a reputation as a powerful way to reach and research consumers.

I recently interviewed Craig Greenfield, VP, Search and Performance Media, Performics, about his team’s Twitter use. They use it to help promote Performics’ marketing services, as well as enhance their clients’ campaigns and research.

Here’re six ways Greenfield sees Twitter contributing to his team’s success:

#1. Improved natural search

– Content promotion – A simple tweet with a short URL link is enough to drive traffic and capture more links to content, and in turn, help search rankings.

“Depending on who re-tweets our links and how they do it…we tend to see a snowball effect that results in more and more valuable SEO links,” Greenfield says.

– Keyword research – Through Twitter’s search and the team’s proprietary tools, they are able to mine Twitter’s data to look for new keywords related to their client’s products.

#2. Capture paid-search opportunities

Twitter helps Greenfield’s team monitor trends in consumer interest. By tracking non-branded industry keywords (such as ‘jeans’ and ‘shirt’ for clothing retailers) they can see both positive and negative reactions to new brands, styles or features.

#3. Reputation management

Twitter is one of many social media sites that Greenfield and his team uses to monitor consumer sentiment around brands and products.

By using software to identify statements about a company or its products, the team is able to see whether consumers are talking about the company in a positive or negative light and respond appropriately.

#4. Landing page design

Greenfield’s team started mining conversations on social media outlets like Twitter to develop new landing page designs. They monitor conversations related to a brand or product and create a “tag cloud” based on the feedback. The team references these groups of text when brainstorming new ideas for landing pages, he says.

#5. Driving direct sales

Threadless, a tee shirt design and retail company, and one of Greenfield’s clients, has attracted more than 1.2 million followers to its Twitter feed and uses Twitter to generate sales, Greenfield says. Threadless tweets about promotions and content, and typically includes a URL link to their website.

#6. B2B lead generation

Greenfield and his team use their Twitter feed to update followers on:
o Company news
o Blog posts
o New whitepaper downloads
o Monthly webinars

The last two items are often used for lead generation, making Twitter one of several ways the team increases their pool of qualified leads for sales.

38% Decline in Direct Mail Predicted

July 14th, 2009

I recently had a conversation with Gordon Borrell, CEO, Borrell Associates, Inc., in which he made some startling predictions for the future of several advertising markets. Borrell’s team specializes in tracking local advertising and reporting how much advertisers are spending in a channel by region.

The most surprising prediction Borrell shared is that spending on direct mail will decline 38% over the next five years. Marketers spent about $48 billion on direct mail last year, Borrell says. While that size might suggest stability, Borrell says that it is actually an indication that the platform is in line for a mighty fall.

“When something grows really fast and gets up to a high level, and there’s a disrupter in the market place, some other technology that provides pretty much the same level of service but in a more efficient way, then you can expect there to be a roller coaster decline.”

That disruptor is Internet marketing in general, and email marketing in particular, Borrell says. Email is an affordable way to send personalized and targeted messages, and the technology continues to improve.

Also, recent reports that the United States Postal Service is considering eliminating Saturday service is contributing to his team’s prediction, Borrell says.

“If the day they cut is Saturday, then that really hurts direct mail. Marketers love to get pieces into homes on Friday and Saturday, because that’s when the buying is done in households.”

Borrell and his team base their predictions, in part, on a disruption model. They analyze what happened to markets of the past when disrupted by a new technology, and apply those lessons to current events.

Has your team cut direct mail this year? Or do you plan to in the next five years? Let us know in the comments…

Consumers’ Mobile Shopping Preferences

May 27th, 2009

Billing Revolution released some results today from a survey it commissioned on consumers’ mobile shopping preferences. Harris Interactive conducted the survey and queried 2,029 US adults, ages 18 and older, from April 29 to May 1 of this year.

Of adults who receive bills from cell phone and credit card companies, 57% said they trust card companies more than cell phone companies for accurate billing. Here’s a pie chart with more results (you can click it for a larger version):


Of mobile users, more younger users (59%; ages 18 to 34) thought it was at least somewhat safe to purchase through a mobile phone than older users (34%; ages 55+). More male mobile users thought it was at least somewhat safe (50%) than female users (39%).

Of those willing to make purchases:
o 75% would be willing to buy entertainment items, such as:
– Event/movie tickets (58%)
– Music (41%)
– Games (34%)
– Mobile video or TV content (24%)

o 68% would be willing to purchase food or drink items, such as:
– Pizza (59%)
– Fast food (42%)
– Coffee (25%)

o 43% would be willing to purchase hotel rooms
o 40% would be willing to purchase travel tickets


Market Research via Social Media

April 17th, 2009

Consumers are expressing themselves in thousands of ways online, including in videos, images, forums, and blogs. The diary-like style of blogs can offer unique insight into a person’s life and opinions. And, since they’re written in text, blogs can be more easily aggregated and mined for insights than other media, such as video.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Janet Eden-Harris, VP of Web Intelligence, J.D. Power and Associates, on this topic. Eden-Harris works in a division of the market research firm that is responsible for mining social media for market insights. Information gathered this way can, at times, be more valuable than a survey, she says.

“People go to their blogs, to message boards, chat rooms, and forums, really, to talk to one another. And they talk spontaneously about products, services, and their lives… You’re not prejudicing them by asking a question. You are listening in, or overhearing conversations that are taking place spontaneously.”

Well-read bloggers also tend be very passionate and knowledgeable about a specific topic, she says. “These are the people that you very likely want to listen to most because they are more or less your thought leaders and opinion leaders.”

Eden-Harris and her team gather data from publicly available social media sites across the Web. They do not gather information from any sources that require a password, such as Facebook. Other social media sites, such as MySpace, do not always require a password. The team is not concerned with the gathering information about specific bloggers, she says. Instead, they are concerned with their topics and opinions.

“Essentially what we’re doing is collecting [this information] into a database, and we mine millions of posts every week and continually mine them,” she says. “It goes beyond demographics. It goes into what motivations do people have for buying or using a product or responding to a trend.”

Her team uses Natural Language Processing, a branch of computer science, to scan the posts for insights. NLP can be used to analyze text for subject matter, sentiment, and assumptions about a person’s background, such as sex and age. By scanning millions of posts, the team can uncover who is saying what about products and companies, and create reports.

Types of Reports

There are four main categories of information that companies ask J.D. Power to research that can involve mining social media, Eden-Harris says. They are:

1. Brand monitoring – This is the most common type. Marketers want to know what consumers are saying about their companies and their competitors. Marketers could survey their own customers, but it is much more difficult to survey their competitors’ customers themselves.

2. Trend analysis – Marketers also ask for analysis on the current trends in a market, and where the market is heading. It can be difficult to pick up on trends in surveys, but you can often pick up on them through blog and social media research, Eden-Harris says.

3. Customer information – Marketers also ask for more information about their current and potential customers. Blogs provide particular insight in this category since many consumers will identify themselves as a customer in one post, and talk about their personal lives in other posts. The posts can also provide information on the best language to use when communicating to customers.

4. Unmet needs – it is also possible to collect information about what products consumers wish they had. “Consumers are classically not particularly good at coming up with product innovations, but, boy, are we good at saying what annoys us and what we wish we had,” Eden-Harris says.

Web Equals ‘Research On the Hoof’

February 9th, 2009 aims to entice grandparents to register a profile and/or subscribe to a free email newsletter by providing useful content that’s relevant to being a grandparent. Sound familiar? That’s kind of what we do at MarketingSherpa (for marketers, of course).

Whenever you have a site like this there’s one thing you’ve got to keep in mind, says Jerry Shereshewsky, CEO of “The Web is research on the hoof.” Read more…

5 Favorite Articles from 2008

January 5th, 2009

2008 has come and gone and I have a folder loaded with a year’s worth of Sherpa articles I’ve written. Here are a few of my favorites, from which I’ve pulled out nuggets of wisdom to share.

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Insights on U.S. Hispanic Market

June 19th, 2008

I recently talked with Natasha Funk, research director for Terra Networks. She has some interesting demographics to share on the online U.S. Hispanic market. We mostly talked about a content-engagement study Terra conducted with comScore.

Read more…