In continuation of our series focusing on the growing relevance of digital literacy to Canada’s economy, today’s post focuses on the importance of strategically understanding market research. Our modern world offers an unprecedented volume of data, but it’s important to go beyond the numbers to realize the power they have to build brand loyalty and increase the bottom line. For more on this exceedingly relevant topic, I spoke to Brian Singh (@bfsingh), a market researcher and economist with over 20 years experience, and founder and managing director of ZINC Research.
According to Singh, the current reality for businesses boils down to this:
Marketing and communications is research and research is marketing and communications.
You can’t have one without the other. Everything that a business is doing must be measured – and that must include online presence. Singh says that there are five current sources of data:
- Transactional/operational data
- General market intelligence
- Public/client opinion
- Web analytics
- Social media metrics and analytics
Those in management roles are likely familiar with the first three, but might feel that the final two are best left to people in the IT and communications departments. Singh says this is a mistake.
“Anyone in any senior management role has to be digitally literate. It is the current means of communication, bar none. If you’re running a business and you’re not online, you’re not in business. Right now, your online presence is probably the best representation of your corporate brand. What people say about you and how they talk about you is of critical importance to your business.”
Everyone, including those involved in corporate strategy and communications, all the way to a company’s CEO, needs to be literate in the stories and themes emerging from the data. Ultimately, digital and data literacy allows businesses to stay at the forefront of learning – about their business and the best ways to communicate and interact with customers.
It’s undeniable that customers have more ways than ever to communicate with businesses – so it’s imperative for those businesses to be listening.
“The expectation is that I can be anywhere and send a tweet, an email or a message through a company’s website, pin something of theirs on Pinterest or leave a comment on Facebook. I expect feedback; I expect to be engaged. If you’re not learning about these particular channels, you’re going to have trouble.”