Dashboards Put Marketers in the Driver's Seat

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Market research reports and customer satisfaction surveys provide truckloads of valuable data. The challenge for marketers is to make sense of it all and present their analysis in a clear, useful way. Dashboard reports help marketers meet this challenge. They provide simplified data analysis that allows decision makers to see at a glance what’s working and what needs to be changed.

Dashboards Display Key Indicators
The dashboard in a car allows the driver to see at a glance key indicators such as speed, RPMs, and engine temperature. The dashboard in a management information system works the same way. Any organization collects an enormous amount of data. The problem is that all this valuable information is not easily available to the people who need to use it — the people in the driver’s seat.

Dashboard reports provide key indicators that show how well an organization is functioning. Specialized dashboards have been developed for all sorts of business operations, everything from sales to security. They are especially useful for data-intensive operations such as survey analysis and market research.

Here's how they work. Programmers use efficient software tools, such as those developed by Mineful, to create customized displays of data gathered from customer satisfaction surveys or market research reports. These displays might include bar graphs, pie charts, or other visual representations that are easy to interpret. Different displays can be created for different types of users. For example, high-level executives might see a summary of customer satisfaction data for different parts of the business, while product managers might see results just for their own operations.

Key Features
Dashboards are showing up on more and more desktops because they offer a number of valuable features. For example:

  • They provide a variety of visualization options, including bar charts, line graphs, scatterplots, and maps.
  • They can be used to display common business patterns, such as trends, rank, and correlation.

  • They can call attention to anomalies such as subpar performance.

  • They can give users the option to drill down to reports and analysis for additional information.

  • They can aggregate data from different sources into a single view.

Marketers are using dashboards to display data on ROI, sales, market research, and customer satisfaction. Dashboards give marketers the tools they need to analyze information and make more informed decisions.

Marketing Dashboards from Mineful
Mineful, a leader in online survey software, helps clients create, save, and share dashboards across an organization, giving decision makers easy access to the valuable information gathered from customer surveys and market research. Users do not need a background in statistics or survey techniques to take advantage of these tools. They just need to interpret simple charts and graphs.


Mineful’s clients are currently using dashboards to create a clear picture of changes and trends in customer satisfaction and loyalty. Mineful dashboards provide clients with real-time insight on how customers perceive the quality of their products and services. They show marketers how well their programs are working, where they need to make changes, and whether the changes they make actually lead to better results. Mineful’s dashboards put marketers in the driver’s seat.

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What is a Business Idea Worth?

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business ideaBusinesses have been using online surveys for a while now to measure customer satisfaction and conduct market research. They know that success in business always involves listening to customers. But a few forward-thinking businesses have taken this listening process one step further. They are using online systems to solicit product ideas from both their customers and their staff.

A Different Kind of Questions
Most online surveys ask customers to evaluate a product or service. For example, a hotel might ask, “How would you rate our check-in process in terms of convenience?” A survey intended to solicit news ideas might ask a different kind of question, for example, “How can we improve our check-in process?”

Questions like these are bound to produce many useless answers. Some will be impractical, and some will be just plain silly. But for every hundred unusable responses there might be one or two that could lead to worthwhile new products or improved services.

P&G Asks Customers for Ideas
Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest consumer goods company, takes this approach to customer surveys seriously. P&G has created an online program called Connect + Develop that allows customers and other interested parties to submit ideas about anything related to their business — packaging, design, marketing, engineering, etc.

Businesses take part in the program in hopes of partnering with P&G. Individuals take part because they would like to see new products or because they would like to have a chance to influence a corporate giant. Connect + Develop has generated an impressive variety of product ideas, from new ways to apply Olay skin cream to new shapes for Pringles snack foods (sticks rather than chips).

P&G says that external collaboration plays a key role in nearly 50 percent of its products. A.G. Lafely, chairman and CEO, states, “Our vision is simple. We want P&G to be known as the company that collaborates — inside and out — better than any other company in the world.”

Using Social Media to Solicit Ideas
This interest in asking customers for ideas fits nicely with the growing popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook. When a company creates a page on Facebook, people who are interested in the company’s products become “fans” rather than just customers. The idea behind this distinction is that fans feel a special affinity for a company and its products. They think of themselves almost as partners. This type of relationship makes it more likely that people will feel free to offer suggestions and other comments. And Facebook makes it easy for “fans” and businesses to interact.

But a company does not need to use a social networking site to let customers know that is open to new ideas and eager to receive them. An online portal such as P&G’s Connect + Develop can foster the sort of collaborative spirit that will lead people to think of themselves as partners in the process of innovation.
marketing business ideaPutting a Dollar Value on Ideas
A new idea many sound promising, but will it actually lead to increased profits? That is the calculation that business managers have to make. In the case of a new product, this calculation can be fairly straightforward. A manager has to estimate two things: what it will cost to implement the innovation and how much the innovation will yield in new sales. If the expected benefits outweigh the costs significantly, a manager will probably give the innovation a green light, then monitor costs and sales figures to see if things turn out as expected.

What about an idea that is expected to increase customer loyalty? The value of such an idea can be easier to estimate than you might think. For example, a medical organization discovered through an online survey that doctors wanted an online portal where they could ask questions and help other physicians. The organization implemented this idea, and it proved to be a huge success. After the portal was launched, member renewal rates increased by ten percent. Each new member brings an average revenue of $1,000 per year. With about 100,000 new members each year, it is reasonable to say that this idea has a value of $100,000.

Marketing strategists have come up with formulas that attempt to place an accurate value on customer loyalty. One interesting approach is to measure the “Lifetime Value of a Customer” (www.dbmarketing.com/articles/Art251a.htm). This approach uses revenue and cost figures to calculate the average profit per customer per year. If, for example, the average profit per customer is $36, then an idea that improves customer retention by 1,000 customers a year generates gross profits of $36,000. If the idea cost $10,000 to implement, then it produced net profits of $26,000. The same kind of calculation can be done for ideas that attract new customers.
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Social Media Marketing Measurement

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Social networking sites such as Facebook have given marketers a new approach to Internet advertising — something called viral marketing. Viral marketing is really just a high-tech form of word of mouth advertising. Here’s how it works.

Suppose you own a bakery. You have lots of loyal customers, but, like any business owner, you would like to have more. You create a free page on Facebook describing your business, and you update it frequently with news about special promotions or new product offerings. You encourage your customers to visit your page and become “fans” of it. When they do, you can send them automated updates, and they can visit your page with just one click from their Facebook accounts. To increase traffic to your page, you might decide to buy targeted ads on Facebook.

So far this approach is rather conventional. It is really no different from the way businesses have used the Internet for a number of years. But something else happens when people become fans of your Facebook page: the name of your business is added to their personal profile. Now all their Facebook friends see that they are fans of your business. Some of them become fans, and the process (you hope) just goes on and on. This is the essence of viral marketing: encouraging people to pass on a marketing message to others. If your message is appealing, it has the potential to spread exponentially throughout your community and beyond.

Facebook has actually taken the concept of viral marketing one step further. Suppose you decide to run a Facebook ad targeted to everyone in your local area. Suppose, also, that you have a Facebook page with 100 fans, and each one of those fans has 50 Facebook “friends.” When those friends see your ad, it will say something like this: “Sample our delicious baked goods. Your friend Adam Smith is a fan.”

Clearly the potential for viral marketing is enormous, but how do you measure its effectiveness? Earlier approaches to Internet marketing used some traditional methods of measuring how well an ad worked. For example, each ad might have a unique 800 phone number for responses. Or each ad might have a link to a coded discount coupon that customers could print out or use online. But these traditional methods don’t lend themselves to social media marketing.
Marketers have developed new approaches to measuring the effectiveness of a social media campaign. They measure such things as:
  • Facebook fans and page views. Facebook offers a free tool called Insights that provides demographic and geographic data on your “fans,” as well as information on the number of visits your page receives and the number of page views.

  • Del.icio.us. This strangely named site offers something called “social bookmarking.” People post bookmark lists on the site that are accessible to their friends. You can see how many people have added your site to their bookmark list and what key words they have used to “tag” your site.

  • Number of Articles on Digg. If you use blogs or news articles to promote your business, people who like your content can forward it to Digg or other socials news sites. You can track how many of your articles have been submitted to these sites and how popular they are.

What is missing from these measurements is data on conversions (sales). As social media marketing matures, advertisers will keep looking for ways to measure results in terms of dollars rather than clicks.

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