Best Ways to Get Marketing Insights – Easier and Less Expensive


It may be the right time to discard old and ineffective marketing legacy research behaviors and explore new ones. There’s a lot of debate these days as to whether or not methodology and tools are the truest avenue to better insights. There are new capabilities, which, if used wisely, can provide much greater insights than anything used before.

Business demands have accelerated—and so have the speed and efficiency companies require to meet those demands. These days, the C suite has to justify any spending and investments with even greater scrutiny. Still, many companies continue to spend large sums of money and resources on supposed insights, only to watch them die a quick death in a massive swamp of spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.

It’s a commonly held belief that information is only good if it’s actionable information. These days, there are a variety of new and powerful ways to get more valuable and actionable insights—and to do so with greater accuracy, agility, and for less cost than ever before.

The following offers a range of current approaches to gain insights that are much more effective than the tired, old legacy approaches that still exist “because it’s always been done that way.”

1. Using Programmatic Data in New and Effective Ways

The exponential growth of programmatic advertising is no longer revolutionary news—nowadays, two thirds of all advertisers use it in one form or another. Programmatic allows you to connect with consumers on a personal, 1–1 level. However, the information gleaned is often locked away in some distant data silo, guarded over by a media team or an outside agency.

We all know that it’s easy to use programmatic data for media targeting, retargeting and channel allocation. But the real truth that is emerging are the major audience and brand insights that we see in post-campaign takeaways.

If companies and agencies aligned their data more concisely with their brand strategy and business goals, they would unearth a treasure-trove of powerful information to drive actionable insights for both their brand and consumer. All you need to do is start asking the right questions of the data itself, or apply it in new and creative ways. It’s all there for you. Like sitting on a gold mine that’s already been paid off.

2. Using Online Research as DIY

Intensive market research has long been considered a laborious and expensive initiative, with long timelines, and endless days of travel and being out of the office. Significant changes in research technology have occurred over the past few years that originally were adopted only by start-ups and small companies, because of their ease and efficiency. But now, these platforms have grown up to deliver enterprise-level performance while simultaneously maintaining their user-friendly experience and lower cost of execution. Some of the most common tools include quantitative surveys, qualitative online focus groups and 1-on-1’s, usability studies and pertinent ethnography. These new approaches have helped guide companies from Samsung and Adobe to Kraft and 3M. Below are a few other companies that are rising to the top.

Survey Specialists:

  • Creates surveys on the fly
  • Access to a panel of 4.5 million people
  • Pre-defined consumer list
  • Targets include specific country, B2B audience or industry panel
  • Enables you to send online surveys to your own lists
  • Offers hundreds of thousands of survey respondents
  • Well known for surveying its own lists
  • Over 2 million consumers

Focus Group Specialists:
The cost of conducting an online focus group is almost always less than a traditional in-person focus group, plus it offers greater value. While traditional focus groups generally include 8–10 people from a single segment, online focus groups allow you to engage 50–150 people across 4–5 different segments, all in a single study. These MROCs (Market Research Online Communities) have become the go to-spot when seeking immediate results for specific markets.

  • Conducts 30-minute online video interviews
  • Its U.S consumer panel has 3.5 million members


  • Specializes in online qualitative research
  • User-friendly
  • Focus group in real-time
  • 12+ participants, 45+ questions, and unlimited observers


  • First-to-market technology with rich qualitative insights
  • Connect every “what” to its “why”
  • World-leading expert in mobile and online qualitative market research
  • Online forms and private online communities
  • Mobile telephone and video research technologies

3. Harness the Power of Buyer Personas

Getting beyond the focus groups and PowerPoints, to a place where you truly understand the lives of your prospects and customers, requires imagination—but it’s an all-important key to marketing success.

Successfully harnessing the power of Buyer Personas requires a level of creativity that extends far beyond the morass of standard research reports and the clutter of demographics. Any actor worth his salt doesn’t step onstage or in front of the camera without first diligently researching his character’s life to the point where he begins to instinctively think, feel and behave as they do. It’s no different for marketers. The more you can get into character and think and feel as your customers do, the more successful you will be in engaging them. The best part of doing this is that it doesn’t have to break the research budget—it just requires a bit of elbow grease and hands-on effort.

Have a conversation

Have you ever been in a focus group? People are forced to discuss a series of contrived questions with a pack of strangers, while staring dead-eyed at a glass wall, feeling like they’re trapped forever inside an M&M-powered fishbowl. Does this sound like an effective way to capture the complex intricacies of what a human being truly thinks and feels? Of course not; and certainly not at $10,000 per group. A much better way is to find people who fit the profile of your buyer and just sit down and talk to them. Take them for coffee, or meet with them in their office. Steer the conversation away from your company. Instead, focus on their life and their desires, and what they are trying to accomplish each and every day. Then use this information to figure out how your product can best fit into the needs of their world, and when.

Walk in their shoes

It’s one thing to intellectually understand someone, but it’s another to actually know them—to feel the pressures they feel and to face the non-stop choices, demands and problems that make up their life. While it’s almost impossible to step in and truly inhabit someone else’s life, a little role-playing will go a long way toward understanding the truth about your target. Plus, it’s an interesting and often fun exercise that can prove very illuminating. First, to get into character, do a quick profile of one of your key consumer targets, to serve as a guide. Then pick one of your products and start your day. While in character, consider what prompted you to seek out your product category in the first place? Where would you go to begin your investigation? Remember, you only know what your “character” knows, so keep it real. What are the most important things you have to learn about this character to understand exactly how and why they would be purchasing and using your product. In the end, decide whether or not this “character/you” would actually have chosen your company and products. If not, you’ve learned a ton!

Find a friend

Marketers spend countless hours and millions of dollars in their attempt to identify with a particular persona. Why not avoid all this unnecessary expense and struggle and try discovering them by using your company’s internal resources. Get your team together and ask each of them to name a person they know who reflects the profile on the page in front of them. Then have them describe that person, and tell a story about them. This exercise enables everyone in the room to apply what they were working on through the lens of someone they can relate to. That PowerPoint slide, littered with uninspiring, impossible-to-use data about a certain target customer. will suddenly bloom to life and become very real. This can completely reorchestrate the project in a way that connects deeply and directly to many of the things their friend can relate to.

Clearly there are many research alternatives to the “way it’s always been,” but spending some time to find the right fit is critical. Given the relatively low investment it may even be worthwhile trialing a few methods.