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Marketing and Insights in Today’s Cluttered, Techy World

Gen2 Advisors recently did a quick survey to understand how things are going between marketing professionals and insights professionals.


Gen2 Advisors recently did a quick survey to understand how things are going between marketing professionals and insights professionals.  The idea was to get a read on if things were improving, how things were improving, and if technology was a part of that mix.

The results were a little bit of a departure (but not completely) from some of the rhetoric we here in the “insights” space.  All in all, things may not be quite as bad as we sometimes believe – especially considering that we had a great turnout of the marketing professionals.


We asked marketing and insight pros to share with us who, what, when, where and how they uncover insights.

We ended up hearing from individuals who described themselves as “upper management” and to a slightly lesser degree “middle management.” An overwhelming number of folks identified themselves as doing mostly marketing, and a little less than one-third of respondents said they do a little of both marketing and insights. As a result, we had an excellent group of marketers to draw upon for their ideas, suggestions, recommendations on how to better improve the relationship between marketing and insights–as well as the latest tools, technology and applications that you are leveraging to gather insights.

Here‘s a summary of what we think are the most interesting and useful data points in our results. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!

In the past few years, marketing and insights have learned to play together. Let’s dig into how you (and your peers) are making it happen. Is it the people, the processes, or the tools?


(Pssst…The answer isn’t that random.)

You and The People Sitting across from The Hallway

You  (“the people”) are at the core of change and the driving factor in the improving (or declining) relationship between marketing and insights. If the boss is unwilling or the staff is unable, no amount of process improvement or technological tools is going to bring about the change that most marketers and insights professionals are hoping for. Not surprising!

In companies where the relationship between marketing and insights is improving, it is the leadership team that plays an important role. They can (or cannot) enable people or processes that drive positive change. They sometimes won’t let go of outdated ideas and practices that hold the company back.

“The boss is an old-fashioned phone dialer but we’re slowly proving that the new methods work.”

“Upper management does not understand the value of marketing analytics.”

The Process: How You Make It Happen Against All Odds

Changes in process have also influenced the latest improvements in the marketing-insights relationship. Sometimes, the answer was as simple as agreeing upon a new report, a clearer division of labor or breaking down old barriers. We’ve heard of marketing and insights coming together to provide one integrated marketing solution. We also heard of a company’s conscious effort to integrate social media into its overall communications plan, as well as use analytics to check if they were reaching the right people. Nicely done! Can we say we are proud of you?

But then, the unavoidable happened. Some of you let us know that red tape, bureaucracy and tight budgets are still contributors to less awesome synergy between marketing and insights.

Power Tools Give Power to the People

We got an interesting peek at how marketing and insights involving social media can bolster an organization.   For those who are willing to dip their marketing toes into the insights pool, the benefits far outweigh any hesitation.  For some marketers, something as simple as partnering on a survey has helped focus marketing strategies. Others have seen substantial growth in web traffic and social media interactions just from sharing analytics data.

The conclusion? Bringing together those with solid ideas and those with a strong understanding of insights tools is simply the right thing to do.


We gave folks a chance to wave their magic wand once to change something that would bring the marketing and insights function together in a more seamless way. The answers (as you might expect) were diverse, yet with similar themes.

  1. A more holistic data view. Why can’t we have one magical, integrated system that brings all data together? That’s what you are all wondering. And, we are too. This has certainly been a dream of nearly all insights and marketing professionals for decades. From a data storage and statistical analysis perspective, there have been substantial improvements in the past couple of years.  However, you still struggle to interpret all of this information into an accurate, nuanced and cohesive narrative.  You need more of a strategic view. The question remains how to get there.
  2. Better integration of the two functions. When marketing and insights are not well aligned, they can be saying the same thing, but be talking two different languages. It is important that both sides learn from each other.  It takes two to tango…and, in general, it takes both the insights person and marketer to develop realistic, achievable goals for a successful campaign. One recommendation that got the Gen2 Advisors seal of approval involved both functions getting together for planning meetings–both at the program and strategic level, much more often.  Another good piece of advice was including marketing folks in the process of synthesizing the learning from insights projects.  The value is not only to get more applicable insights, but also to build deeper knowledge in the organization.
  3. Better-looking ROI models. Yes, both marketing and insights have made significant strides in developing good ROI models. But it’s still a tough argument to make.  Tight budgets and intangible value are never good friends. This limits the ability for you to justify how insights help drive marketing effectiveness.
  4. More Happy Hours (We love and support this one).  Are you smiling? This is no joke! The benefits of “out of the office” work are great.  There’s camaraderie and connection.  The best “frameworks” we’ve seen generally started on a bar napkin.


Socia Media Analytics and The Eternal ROI Question

With so many new tools available to aid marketers and insights professionals, Social Media Analytics turns out to be the most adopted tool. Even those who are not using the tool realize its value; and the fact that they should be using it. However, social media and ROI don’t go as well together as peanut butter and jelly…yet.  Many are still racking their brains to understand how social media is tied to business outcomes (and, how to get the peanut butter off the roof of their mouth…).

But for those using social media analytics, it clearly has proven to be worth the time and investment. For some, this tool has helped reach the right customer at the right time. As one person stated, “[It] provides us a barometer of when people are engaging, what they are engaging with, and what is driving the traffic to our sites.”

Social media analytics is a wonderful tool for supporting brand initiatives. Yes, it works for measuring attitudes and impressions of your brand. However, some have taken it one step further by using social media analytics information to transform the perception of their brand among those who engage with it online. And, to answer the eternal ROI question, some said the real benefit to social media analytics was the ability to prove the value and demonstrate the effectiveness of their efforts.

Smartphones: The Trendy Device That Proved No Trend

We were slightly surprised by the fact that despite the rapid, widespread adoption of smartphones globally, not many marketers indicated that they were using this tool for data collection. But you should. We know you would agree. (Wink! Wink!)

As far as the obstacles to adopting the use of smartphones, the lack of experience, finding the right vendor, and finding an appropriate project were most often mentioned. But for those who are using smartphones to support their marketing efforts, the ability to provide key insights into their highly targeted market has proven to be invaluable. And, of course, if your business uses an online app (as one respondent stated), “…using smartphones has been useful in getting feedback on app topics.”

Online Research Communities – Or The Fancy-called MROC’S

After social media analytics, Online Research Communities are the most used tool among marketers and insights professionals.  Again, if you are not using it, you should.

Not having a good understanding of the tool, experience or access to a reasonably priced option were the reasons cited most often for why marketers are not using this methodology. However, it’s exactly those same reasons that were pointed out among those choosing to use an online research community.

Additional benefits of using online research communities included: user-friendliness, customization, and the fact that they provide a way to keep a finger on the pulse of customers’ needs and attitudes.

“Provides continuous feedback on a cost effective manner”

“Quick and easy access”

“They’re economical and provide the information we are looking for.”

Bioresearch – What’s The Face Value?

Not many know the answer to that question yet. Bioresearch such as eye tracking, facial analysis, and biometrics are the least used data collection methodologies we asked about. This isn’t surprising as these techniques are not as adaptable or appropriate for many companies. However, a few of you still said you could see using this technology in the future.

Engagement and The “Fun” Stuff: Gamification, Crowdsourcing and More

Engagement Research includes techniques like crowdsourcing, gamification, and ethnography. Very few said they were actually using these techniques for marketing and insights. Although these methods may not always be appropriate, there seems to be some appeal for future use because of the opportunity they provide to understand customers more intimately.

Many of you still struggle to see how to implement these techniques into your current programs and worry about customers’ reaction to being engaged in these ways.

What Next?

Wouldn’t you like to be first on your block to know the latest info? Want to be on the cutting-edge of marketing and insights?  If you do, please sign up to be alerted when the next Gen2 Advisors Vision Report is ready!

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