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Ready to Research? Here’s How to Start

You know the importance of market research. You know the different kinds of market research. Now, where do you begin?
Being intentional about your approach to market research is the key to being efficient and effective. A poorly executed research plan can waste valuable time and money, along with producing subpar results.

Determine Your Goals

The first step in market research is to clearly define what you want to get out of it. Not only is this the foundation that determines all your other steps, but it can also help you decide what kind of market research is best. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • What information do you need the most from your research?
  • What are your assumptions? How will you validate them?
  • What actionable insights do you want to walk away with?

If you can clearly articulate what you’re trying to solve and what you want to walk away with, you’ll be in good shape.

Determine Your Approach

Your choice of market research (quantitative, qualitative, or empirical) will depend on the goals you have defined. Decide which method best fits your need, and then map out exactly how you will get the data.

For example, if qualitative research is best for you, will you send out a feedback survey? Run a focus group? Will you offer compensation for participation? What questions will you ask? Who will analyze the results?

Mapping out the research journey, while always referencing your goals to ensure your approach is in service to them, will help you avoid scope creep.

Determine Your Budget

Research costs money. It’s a solid investment, but it’s important to understand how much you are willing to spend before you dive in. Some research methods cost more than others. Focus groups often offer compensation for participation, for example. You may also need to hire a moderator, rent a space to host, provide snacks, and budget for your analyst’s salary to summarize the results. Don’t forget to account for the time and effort of your salaried employees as well.

Clearly defining your budget for your research efforts ahead of time will help you stay laser-focused on your goals.

Start Small

If you’re not yet sure how much data you’ll get or how valuable it’ll be, it’s okay to start on a smaller scale and build on it. There’s no rule that says you have to go all in on one market research approach right out of the gate. While you absolutely do want the right data to make good marketing decisions, sometimes it makes sense to test the waters before scaling. For example, if you’re looking for customer feedback, perhaps you start with a feedback survey that you send out to your email list. Depending on early results, you may want to scale it to a wider audience or host a focus group to dig in deeper.

Trust the Experts

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. At BottomLine, we have seen the power of market research over and over again, and we know that the time, effort, and money is worth it. However, companies often don’t have the internal resources available with enough capacity to execute. Plus, employing the right market research strategy that will give you those actionable insights does require a high level of expertise.

That’s why organizations often hire experts like us to partner with them on their research strategy. This takes the time and effort largely off your shoulders and onto ours – and luckily, this is exactly what we love to do. If you want to explore how we can help you with your research needs, contact us today.

Maximizing Your Market Research: Choosing the Right Method

The way most people think about marketing is backwards. Why? Because they rely on their own opinions of what their audience will like, instead of using research and data to cater their marketing to their audience. The result is wasted dollars and ineffective marketing strategies.

That’s why market research is such a crucial tool for your business, regardless of how big you are or what industry you’re in. After all, you have a market that you sell to, right? You need to deeply understand that market—their behaviours, needs, values—and then create strategies that reflect your audience. Market research gives you these insights to better position you against your competitors.

As per, well, everything in life, there are many different ways to approach market research and figuring out what method to use can be daunting. Let’s break down the three categories and when they make sense.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is your numbers-on-a-spreadsheet type of data. Income, demographics, purchase totals, vacation destinations, bounce rates, how long it takes to perform a task—anything you can use mathematical analysis on to look for themes or gaps.

Quantitative research can be incredibly useful because, unlike some other research methods, the data you get is far less subjective to personal interpretation. It can also highlight key features of your market and their behaviour, and you typically get a much bigger data set to work with.

Let’s pretend you send out a multiple choice survey to your market and they tell you their age, income level, what social platforms they use, and how many products similar to yours they’ve purchased in the last year. Next, you look at your website analytics to determine where your traffic is coming from (search engine, social media, etc.), how long they stay on your website, and how often they actually buy something. All of these are examples of quantitative research and, through analysis, you can find themes on where your market spends their time and how they decide to buy (and compare that to where you’re spending your focus and dollars today).

Quantitative research is often the best first step, and is particularly useful when you already have an established offer and the data to go along with it.

Qualitative Research

If quantitative research is numbers on a spreadsheet, qualitative research is how your market feels about it. The goal of qualitative research is to discover the beliefs, values, and habits of your market—what they hold wildly important, and what influences them to make the decisions that they do.

Qualitative data comes most commonly from feedback surveys, open-ended questions, and focus groups. This can be a great way of figuring out the “why” behind the themes in your quantitative data. For example, you may know that visitors to your website often drop once they get to your about page, and by then surveying your market on their feedback on that page, or even targeting those who bounced and asking them what happened, you suddenly get the context around why it’s happening.

This method (particularly focus groups) is also very helpful when you’re in the early stages of development and want to understand how your market thinks and feels about it, or if you have a specific roadblock you want to put in front of people for their input. Keep in mind, though, that it is very subject to interpretation and/or bias, and you tend to get a much smaller data set to work with.

Empirical Research

Empirical data relies on observations, past results, and/or experience. Approaching something a certain way because it worked really well for you or someone else before, seeking out business professionals asking for their advice, or making a hypothesis based on trends you are seeing—all of these are empirical. And while “but we’ve always done it this way!” is often a barrier to progress, intentional use of tactics that have proven success records is just a smart way to not have to start from square one.

Both the qualitative and quantitative research methods relied on the fact that you knew who your market was. But if you’re just starting out and are not yet clear on who your target audience even is, empirical research is the best place to start. While it can be fantastic to start defining your market and make some hypotheses around behaviour, it doesn’t bring that rich analysis that quantitative research does, nor the in-depth understanding that comes with qualitative research.

Why not a mix?

Each type of research has its place, and there’s no rule that says you can only pick one. In fact, a mix of different methods is often the best way to get the whole picture. Quantitative can give you the numbers, qualitative can lend the context, and empirical can help you formulate a strategy when you don’t yet have enough to go on. When deciding your research strategy, don’t forget to also factor in how much time and money you have to get it done with. It’s important to balance the potential benefits of the research against the resources required to conduct it.

Overall, market research is a critical part of developing any kind of business strategy. If you don’t understand who your market is and why they do what they do, you’re simply spinning your wheels. Of course, you don’t have to go at this alone—at BottomLine, we specialize in a research-first approach and can do the heavy lifting for you. Get in touch with us today for your free consultation and rest easy knowing that you’re in good hands.

How To Use Influencer Marketing To Amplify Your Content Strategy

When expanding your brand’s reach, it’s tempting to go alone. After all, you’ve got plenty on your plate as it is. But you don’t have to do it all yourself — and in fact, you shouldn’t.

Today’s audiences are more connected than ever before, which means they have more options for what they spend their time on. That means that it’s up to you to make sure that your content reaches them in the ways they want to be reached.

In the past, companies could only reach consumers through traditional marketing channels like television, radio, or print. Now, they can use social media influencers and partners to reach customers in new ways.

What are social media influencers?

Influencers have a large following on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. They can be bloggers, celebrities, or popular personalities with an engaged audience who trust their opinion.

Influencers have the power to drive awareness for your brand by creating content about it that is both engaging and authentic for their followers.

How can you leverage an influencer’s reach for your brand?

Using influencers is a powerful way to reach new audiences and expand your brand’s reach can be used in a variety of ways:

Social Media Promotions

Influencers can help you spread the word about your products or services through their social media accounts. This can be done by posting pictures or videos of themselves using your product, tagging you in posts, or using specific hashtags that relate to your brand.

For the actual content itself, it’s highly recommended that you let the influencers create their original content for you and phrase their reviews coming from a personal experience. This strategy would create more relatable content for your brand and the influencer’s following.

Brand Ambassador

If an influencer has a large following, they may want to represent your company somehow. This could mean wearing clothing with your logo, attending events where they are representing you, supporting your launches, or reviewing products/services on their blog/YouTube channel (with a disclaimer).

Content Amplifier

If you’ve ever tried to create a video, case study, or pdf guide, then you know how difficult it can be to get people interested in what you have to say. But if an influencer shares your content with their audience, then there’s a better chance that it will go viral among their followers too! That means more people will see (and sign up or download) your lead magnet, and more eyes will look at your brand!

In essence, the benefits of influencer marketing are clear. Brands and businesses may save money on advertising, build relationships with verified influencers, and gain valuable attention from customers that have been primed to purchase from them.

It’s more than just a buzzword, and here at BottomLine, it’s practically become a part of the way we’ve been looking at marketing for our clients.

Want to implement Influencer marketing in your marketing strategy? We’re here to help. Reach out to us anytime at info@wearebottomline.com!

[WEBINAR RECAP] Buyer Behaviour + Lasting Effects of the Pandemic

Business owners, leaders and sales managers have undoubtedly been faced with this pandemic-truth: your buyer’s behaviour is not what it used to be.

Over the past two years, businesses have had to grapple with in-person meetings turned virtual, supply chain holdups, changes to standard operating practices… you get the picture.

In this webinar, we narrowed our focus specifically to the changes in the customer buying journey, for both B2C and B2B.

“The way customers make purchasing decisions has really shifted drastically over the last 20 months. As things progress in this marketplace, what will return to normal and what can we expect to stick around?”

One of the ways in which buyer behaviour, preferences, and expectations has shifted is an ever-growing expectation for frictionless buying experiences. As buyers wade through more and more information, their need for a streamlined experience grows. In fact, our research unearthed a telling statistic: More than three-quarters of customers surveyed described their purchasing decisions as very complex or difficult.

And so the question is: How do we ensure that the buying journey is being simplified?

Here are some takeaways that you can apply to your business:

  • Consider yourself, as a supplier, your customer’s guide throughout the buying journey that services to help them navigate that buying process.
  • Identify ways to help your customer make their business – or lives – faster, easier, and more efficient.
  • In a time where businesses are reevaluating their vendor relationships, drive brand attachment (that’s like loyalty but better) through activities like constant communication, small gifts, recognition, and handwritten notes.
  • Ensure a first-class customer experience that over delivers and answers your customer’s objections.

While you take these recommendations into account, also remember: “Don’t take for granted that you know what your customer is thinking, make sure you’re asking.”

When you no longer understand your customer, research illuminates the opportunities you’re missing and the methods you can use to harness them.

Over the course of the pandemic, uncertainty has led us to come to terms with a resounding truth: change remains the name of the game. But how do you know the changes that you’re making to your business are the right ones? If you ask us, it all goes back to research.

If you missed our webinar on the pandemic-fuelled shifts in a buyer’s customer journey — or you’d simply like to relive it — check out the full recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKmNM7xv16Q

Recap of topics covered in Buyer Behavior + Lasting Effects of the Pandemic:

  • B2B and B2C consumer trends
    • What buyers are prioritizing
    • How buyers purchase
  • Why loyalty is in jeopardy
  • Actionable steps forward

Download a copy of our latest whitepaper outlining the 5 Impact Pillars that define unforgettable legacy brands.

Friction: Friend or Foe?

In marketing, ‘friction’ typically refers to a point of contention or difficulty for your customer in the buying journey. This could mean anything from a broken link to a long and frustrating form – whatever’s keeping your customer from moving forward. Too much friction and you could lose the sale. 

But is all friction bad?

 

Selective stickiness & momentous experiences 

It makes sense that most of the time we’re hoping for smooth sailing. We want our customers to navigate our websites easily, buy quickly, tell their friends, and come back for more. But when you think about your favourite brands, products, and services – has the experience always been perfectly frictionless? 

Marketing without a little bit of resistance isn’t very good marketing at all. Strictly aiming for an easy-going experience means that you could be giving up precious opportunities that your customer might appreciate now and into the future. When we both embrace and create small moments of friction, we’re able to better understand our customers, provide them with additional value, and find ways that make your brand remarkable in a sea of sameness.

 

When is friction good?

So, when should you intentionally create friction without irritating or losing your customer?

 

  • Email or newsletter sign-ups: this is a small moment of frustration for your customer – but how else will they know about your upcoming sale? By taking the time to sign up, they’ll access exclusive information that is of value such as discounts, news, and releases   
  • Contact forms: by having to fill out a form, their question will likely be answered sooner and directed to the right person, ultimately creating a more positive experience even if it takes them an extra minute to get in touch  
  • Gated content: to access a piece of prized content, your customer may need to give up their email address or visit a secondary landing page. For serious customers, this is a small price to pay to gain valuable insights  
  • Messaging: there’s an opportunity for you to create a little bit of intrigue about your product/service through your messaging, inviting your customer to question your offer and seek out more information. This can be a chance for you to provide proof or backup to your claim, ultimately – building trust with your customer and hooking them in. From there, closing the deal gets easier 

 

So remember, friction isn’t something to fear – the right amount is actually good for your business. It might be what keeps your customer engaged and excited about your product or service. If you’re looking to improve your marketing strategy, let’s talk. 

How marketing drives sales

A business can be measured by any number of metrics, with sales and revenue among the most important. But looking at the bottom line also means understanding other aspects of the business – including marketing strategy. Often referred to as a top line metric, marketing’s got a bad reputation as a cost-centre, but its potential to support key functions is much more significant than that.

Tying marketing to sales and other business objectives can be done with the right strategy and systems in place to measure the success of your efforts towards the right targets.

Start by gathering data

In order to craft a strategy that drives results that affect the bottom line, you first need to take a closer look at the market and your business – you know what we’re about to say: do your research. Research methods we use include:

  • Customer interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Observation

Data is the best teacher

Not all marketing efforts start out with a high degree of success – and that’s normal. What’s important is what you do with the insights you collect from your efforts.

When you’re able to look at the data to see what worked and what didn’t, and then combine that with what you already know about your customers, you’re able to continuously craft marketing strategies that deliver consistently better results.

Part and parcel of making these direct links from marketing to business objectives comes back to market research that leads to informed strategy, followed by consistent implementation and a reliable measurement process.

Systems are a prerequisite to marketing you can measure.

Using data, we can explore what stages of the buyer’s journey led to actions that are linked to business objectives and develop a marketing strategy around those successful touchpoints – but this is really only effective when you are consistent about tracking your results. Make sure you develop a strategy with KPIs in mind and a system to track those KPIs on a regular basis.

 

Support your bottom line with digital marketing that’s directly linked to sales. Learn more about our Impact Assessment market research process at http://www.wearebottomline.com/process/

Adapting Post-Pandemic: 3 Major Changes Within the Retail Industry

Due to the pandemic, online shopping has become a tool for people to purchase personal care items, clothing, groceries and everything in between. The typical dynamics of the retail business have shifted dramatically in the past 13 months, resulting in new trends and client expectations.

This blog post will cover three key developments in the retail industry and how businesses need to adapt in order to experience continued success!

  1. Brick-and-mortar stores pivoting online are creating more online competition. 

    Prior to the pandemic, there were many businesses that found great success due to their store’s physical location and pedestrian customer base. However, as the pandemic has affected these businesses very heavily, they were forced to adapt by selling their products online.

    As more businesses establish their presence online, there is increasing competition for keywords, competitive pricing, and communicating their unique value propositions to build a relationship with customers.

    With the growing online competition, it is imperative to invest in digital marketing by crystallizing your brand identity, implementing a tailored SEO strategy, and creating content that connects with your target audience.

  2. The growing use of Omni-channels.

    Many brick-and-mortar stores have successfully transitioned online by cultivating a strong digital presence. There is a great opportunity for these businesses to lean into both aspects and continue to offer customers a unique shopping experience.

    Although stores are opening up again, the habits formed due to the pandemic are here to stay. People will continue to research and buy online, with delivery and curbside pickup options available to them. Customers have simplified their shopping experience to whatever is simple and convenient for them. Alternatively, this has made the customer journey become more complex, as businesses need to reassess their service to meet customer’s changing expectations and mindsets.

  3. Customer reviews are more important than ever.

    Customer reviews have always been important for the success of a business. However, with the shift to strictly purchasing online, reviews are increasingly more integral to the business’s success. For companies newly established online to companies with years of online presence, potential customers will refer to other people’s experiences with the products and customer service.

    When positive reviews are given, it is crucial to highlight and promote them on your platforms to establish trust with your audience. When negative reviews are given, it is vital to respond to those in order to make those customers feel heard and valued.

    Retail is ever-evolving and to be successful, businesses need to keep up with trends and react to ensure they’re not left behind.  Businesses can take advantage of the shifts in retail by leveraging insights to inform business activities, such as online investments, physical expansion, supply chain logistics and marketing strategies.

Need help? Contact BottomLine for a tailored marketing plan to stay ahead of the game.

In the Weeds: Marketing Cannabis

Earlier this year, BottomLine and LoKnow joined forces to present a webinar that tackled the Canadian cannabis industry, unearthing insights about the state of this relatively new legal market. 

 

If you missed the webinar (or your memory is a bit hazy), here are the top insights we discovered:

  • Government regulations is still the #1 concern in the cannabis industry, especially in regards to limitations to marketing the green goods. 
  • Rules and regulations surrounding cannabis have made it a very difficult product to advertise. Current laws are stricter than alcohol, and carry the ambiguous rule that ad content “cannot appeal to young people”.
  • The industry is estimated to be worth 5 Billion in 2021, with some forecasts seeing it valued at 9 billion by 2025.
  • The industry calls for change in advertising regulations and in the regulation of the black market. 

 

After the webinar, attendees reached out with their thoughts, sharing their own sticking points in the business of cannabis and suggesting new focuses for our research. Unsurprisingly, marketing cannabis to consumers in Canada continues to be no easy feat. Attendees were also interested in learning more about usage and effects, no doubt to inform business and marketing decisions in cannabis. 

 

Creativity in advertising isn’t just the icing on top of the cake – it’s the lifeblood to standing out in a very regulated, very saturated market. So what trends in cannabis use and marketing can inform our business decisions and drive business growth in legal cannabis? 

 

  • The search for the functional high. Microdosing is predicted to become a preferred performance, productivity and wellness tool across many lifestyles and professions, and will become a common method to combat triggers for stress and anxiety for many users. 
  • It’s not just about potency. As the legal market for cannabis continues to grow and users become more attuned to the nuances of the substance, more cannabis connoisseurs will emerge, developing an awareness of the benefits amongst all the variances in cannabinoids beyond that of just THC and CBD. 
  • Cross-promotion companions. Marketing cannabis is far from easy, but trends are beginning to indicate the value of cross-promotion between cannabis brands and companies from complementary industries like entertainment, video games and food (Example: White Castle’s 420 promotion). 

 

While we can’t necessarily do anything about the marketing regulations in Canada, more insights into cannabis usage and innovative marketing tactics can support the legal cannabis industry in Canada. 

 

We’re beginning to develop a deeper understanding of consumers’ preference for a more moderate or functional high that still provides a feeling of control and consistency. Knowing this allows cannabis retailers to create targeted campaigns to appeal to this particular penchant for a high that allows users to remain energized and social while feeling the stress-reducing effects that many cannabis users look for.

 

For our next webinar, we’re taking a step back to look at the effects on consumer behaviour in general as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us as we share research to help you make informed business decisions as we move through this new business environment.

Our Interview with Pathmonk Presents

Interested in maximizing your message and your ROI by uncovering your true value?

Our president, Lisa Genovese, recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Pathmonk where she explains how BottomLine leverages market research to do just that.

 For those of you who don’t know Pathmonk’s Presents, run by the folks at Pathmonk, you’re in for a treat.

The show focuses on real-live insights from top business leaders sharing real success stories (and failures) always backed by data in a brief 20 min format.

They run a great show and host really detailed conversations with founders & business owners (like us) to dissect growth strategies and execution. They also look behind the curtain to show the personalities as well.

The interview closes with a rapid fire session and there was no prep on our side as to what to expect. 

If you’re interested to know what it’s like running BottomLine check out the interview below.  

3 reasons why your business needs video in 2021

If content is king, then video wears the crown.

Take a look at any of your favourite social feeds and you’ll find a video easily within thumb’s reach. The blistering growth of platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels has pushed video into the limelight, and made it easier than ever to capture, edit and share your own movies with the world.

So why does your business need video?

Chances are your customers are consuming it on a daily basis. In fact, it’s estimated that by the end of 2021 the average person will spend 100 minutes per day watching videos online.

It’s also likely that your competitors are already doing it.

So without further ado, here are our top three reasons why video should be in your 2021 marketing plan.

  1. It’s effective

    With decreasing attention spans and an over-crowded internet, it’s becoming harder to reach your customers.

    People crave information and entertainment, but they want it fast and hassle-free. Put too many barriers up and you’ll lose their attention.

    This is where video shines.

    From how-to explainers to product demos, video is the ideal vehicle to drive a message home. In fact, according to a recent survey by Wyzowl, 84% of people say they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video.

    Within just a few seconds you can share important information, engage potential customers and promote your brand. It’s win, win, win.

  2. It’s versatile

    Staff vlogs, behind-the-scenes previews, product educationals, customer testimonials, thought leadership pieces. The possibilities for creating video are almost endless.

    Polished promos and slick product launches may require a good videographer. But you don’t need to be Martin Scorsese to include video in your marketing strategy.

    You can start by using free tools that are readily available on the web. A good camera will help, but don’t be afraid to use a Smartphone to get your video reel rolling.

    As with any form of marketing, effective video starts with an effective plan. So start by writing down your goal, your message, and who your audience is.

  3. It’s shareable

    You’ve spent time crafting a shiny new video, now you want it to be seen. Likes and views are great, but a shared video is a truly successful video.

    Host it on YouTube or Vimeo, then embed it on your website. Post it to Facebook and Instagram, then share it with your followers and social influencers. Give your customers a reason to share it with their friends and family.

    Try to create videos that are useful and informative, or funny and entertaining (you’ll need to balance this based on your own brand style). Think about the kinds of topics and questions your customers ask about, then create videos that provide answers and information. Make sure they’re optimized for search engines, too.

    At every stage of the process, ask yourself whether your video is useful, interesting, engaging and shareable.

Talk with our team today and find out where video fits into your company’s marketing plan.