Software is answering focus group questions for you
Marketing software is finally getting practical. I’m talking about what the Echo Nest and other marketing software companies have done: using social media data to build personas for your audience. It’s not marketing automation software, which aims at serving you ads automatically.
The traditional kind of market research has been done for decades through consulting agreements. Focus groups, surveys, and panels. Lots and lots of time and very hard work.
Big Data attacks Market Research’s Achilles heel: Time
Sure Big Data is a cliche. Big data’s been around longer than the “cloud”. It’s just that little companies like Mattr and the Echo Nest can now afford to process it with intelligence.
Anyway, people will pay anything to get what they need in a timely way. Software is doing its job; adding convenience by reducing the time it takes to get your information.
Could the answers be better than Focus Groups?
The quantitative answers (like the Motorola-Miley Cyrus connection) are certainly better, or at least faster. It’s the qualitative ones that are sticky, like Miley.
The hard question is, “Why do Motorola fans like Miley?”
This is this promise of the new marketing software, which we’ve put up against traditional surveys with very large brands. We’ve tested our personality algorithms against surveys and the results were good — north of 80% correlation. But I’m not sure how valid the tests were for one big, fat reason: Survey Bias. Survey Bias is my term which encompasses all the biases you could get when you ask people questions.
Here are a few of the better-known biases:
- Self-selection bias
- Non-response bias
- Interviewer bias
- Mode effect
- Acquiescence bias
- Social desirability bias
In the past, nay-sayers would trumpet that using social data had a large sample bias flaw, in that a large part of the potential sample group is left out. But with hundreds of millions of people using social media, this argument is drying up rapidly.
It all adds up to this: it’s cheap and fast and you can trend and measure results. Remember when you brought Google Docs into the office? It worked better than good enough, was more convenient than Office, and it was cheap. Who’s not going to try it?
Segment your audience in hours — not weeks or months — all without asking questions. Craft campaigns and products that appeal to their personalities and unique interests.