As a marketer, I can never get enough data and research to help direct my marketing strategies and tactics. I find that a plan grounded in data can lead to insightful, creative and unique ideas to help my brand rise above the incessant noise that the average person is subject to on a daily basis.
I often use secondary research to support my marketing plans. I hunt for juicy data from well-known, reliable sources. When I find survey and study results, I always ask myself questions to make sure that I’m not misinterpreting the findings that could lead me down the wrong path. Study results are based on a variety of factors including not only who gets surveyed, but how, when and where they get surveyed.
For example, I recently tried to find out information about Google+. In my research I came across a few studies that at first blush seemed to offer conflicting information. Upon further examination, it appeared each study was correct; they simply measured different things:
Global Web Index – Ranks Google+ #2 in Active Usage (December 2012)
Hitwise – Ranks Google+ #7 in total visits (January 26 – February 9, 2013)
So why such dramatic discrepancies? Here are just a few things to consider:
- Methodology: Some studies were conducted by phone and others were not. Self-reported results by respondents on the phone may impact the outcome.
- Measurements: What is actually being measured varies with each study.
- Geography: The Global Web Index is global, obviously, while the other two studies were conducted in the U.S.
- Timing: While the dates of each of these studies was not far apart, it is something that could impact results.
Based on this example, if my target is a global audience, the first study may be more relevant to me.
The bottom line is secondary research can prove to be a great asset in your planning efforts. However, you must look very closely not only at the findings, but how, when and where any studies were conducted.