Marketing Automation: How Human is Your Research?

By Maria Twigge

Humans and Robots

Delivering insights that have impact, resonance and clarity is always paramount for a researcher who needs to demonstrate the value of data analysis and running research studies. Many, many times there has been a lot of excitement in the room when a new piece of technology comes along that advances on that analytical capabilities and perhaps even speeds it up.

But whilst big data relies on big analysis, and anything that is repeated certainly should be automised for efficiency. Insight teams don’t actually tend to answer the same questions over and over again. Insight teams tend to tackle a new problem, a new challenge, a new development and a new idea with every insight produced. So what kind of tech is there out there to help support this whole range of insight activity?

Research, marketing and insight teams are highly technological, and apply technology in order to speed up the production of insight, particularly in areas where the same analysis is ran periodically to make interpretation easier, but those quick visual summaries, whilst useful do not provide us with the full insight report. So what you’ll need is a combination of the below to get to what you are looking for…

Creating Visual Impact

As part of creating impact, researchers have also learned to be designers and produce highly visual and graphical summaries of data sets and key insights. A great image and graphic that summarises your point is very powerful, particularly when you can’t be there in person to deliver it to every member of the business who can benefit from it. But the kind of great visuals that have that impact, are in no way, shape or form automatically generated. Here are some inspiring examples I’ve seen, and I’m giving just as much credit, if not more to the people who produced them as well as the tech:

Combining Stats. Summaries & Iconography: A Tale of the IoT

Quirky Topics: The History of the Chicken

An Infographic on Infographics: Why Visual Communication is Great

You’ll notice very effective use of iconography, statistics and story and a top timesaving tip would be to have a set of well used icons made up that you and the team can use regularly that help speed up the understanding of your data.

Integrating Data

Secondly a top concern for an insight team is combining multiple data sources for the most value and impact. There is a nice early checklist to go through when you are about to decide where you need to plug the gaps in knowledge around the business problem here from NewMR.

But whilst deciding which data has value for the question is important, bringing it all together to demonstrate how it supports the insight is a real craft. Each bit of technology that we work with every day is very good at doing what we tell it to do, but if we only do that once then it doesn’t need to be a programmable feature of the technology, it needs to be a feature of your brain, your team or an agency you trust.

Depending on the types of dataset you would like to combine, there are some great tools out there to support the transformation of data into insight including advanced word clouds like Tagxedo.

What is also really helpful is the use of good a strong template or framework around what you are looking to discover, arranging a good information architecture also helps when you want to look back and mine the data for other purposes. Having said all of this, us researchers a very meticulous souls and sometimes we should accept that the data is good enough, the speed and timing is much more important, the best decisions are about when they are made as much as why.

Data Interrogation

If you want to produce some really useful and powerful insight, then you really need to go beyond the obvious data to pull together evidence. Whilst you may have undertaken a ‘mammoth’ piece of research to get to it, you need to pick out just the right pieces to present your case. Take a look at OMD’s Christmas myths for some great examples of interrogating data about consumer trends before Christmas.

Interpretation & Meaning

Finally interpretation, that most human characteristic of all – is there a great bit of kit that can help automate and analyse data in such a way that it is interpreted into meaningful insights? Not one that I have found, but there are some great and inspirational examples of what you can achieve when you do get there, so take this advice…

“Stop acting so small you are the universe in ecstatic motion.” - Rumi

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Maria Twigge

Maria Twigge- Research Director

Personal Bio: Maria has worked with FlexMR for over 7 years, applying psychological patterns to online research. She has previously delivered insights for ITV, John Lewis and more.




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