Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mobile Web Usage Study

Equation was recently commissioned by Gomez Inc to conduect a study of Mobile Internet users. We talked to over 1000 consumers who access the web using their mobile phone and the results show that their is a lot of room to improve on consumers' mobile Internet usage experience.

You can download the full report here and here are some of the key findings...
  • Half of mobile web users are willing to wait only 10 seconds or less for a webpage to load on their phone before giving up. Only one in five are willing to wait more than 20 seconds.
  • 60% of mobile web users have had a problem in the past year when accessing a website on their phone and slow load time was the number one issue - experienced by almost three-quarters of those who had a problem.
  • Almost three quarters (73%) of mobile web users expect to complete a simple transaction like checking their bank balance in a minute or less before giving up and exiting the site.
  • The majority of mobile phone users expect websites to load as quickly, almost as quickly or faster on their mobile phone, compared to the computer they use at home.
  • More than 80% of mobile web users would access websites more often from their phone if the experience was as fast and reliable as it is at home.
  • More than half of mobile web users are unlikely to return to a website that they had trouble accessing from their phone and more than two-thirds are unlikely to recommend the site. Two out of five would visit another company’s site that provides a similar service or content.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Equation's leap into the world of social media

As noted in our 2009 Marketing Industry Trends Study, social media is here to stay; as the large majority of brands and advertisers are currently implementing SM or planning to in the near future.

What follows is our experience entering the world of Web 2.0 and how with a little bit of luck and some great guidance, we were able to to succeed in using social media to help build the Equation brand and create some very positive buzz for the company. We hope that any companies considering a similar leap will find our story useful and maybe even a little inspiring.

Entering the world of Web 2.0 - Where to start?

The first (and probably best) step that Equation Research took when looking for a good way to use Social Media to promote our brand was to partner with someone who truly understands the space. An introduction to Christina Kerley (CK), a marketing strategist and social media specialist, helped us to think about Social Media as a way to truly engage our audience as opposed to a means to broadcast a marketing message. That distinction is key and may seem obvious until you realize just how many companies out there are simply using Social Media as another marketing ‘channel’ to distribute what really amounts to advertising. If not for CK, we may have been destined to go that route as well.

How to best engage a B2B audience?

Learning the tools of Social Media is an important, but not particularly difficult step. Anyone can start a blog, set up a Facebook page or send a tweet, but the real challenge was in finding a way to connect with our target audience. As a brand and advertising research company, we needed to find a way to start a conversation with marketers and do it in a way that created real value for them.

The solution was to put a unique twist on the Marketing Industry Trends study that Equation runs each year. In previous years, we would create the questions, field a survey among advertising and marketing professionals, analyze the results and provide the respondents with a summary at the end.

In 2009, we directly engaged the marketing community by allowing them to create the survey questions and decide on the key issues that they wanted to see answered by their peers. CK was able to facilitate this effort via her column on the marketing website www.marketingprofs.com and the feedback was outstanding! To our knowledge, this was the first time that a study was designed by and for the community it’s targeting.

The results

The community was genuinely excited about the idea and marketers embraced the crowdsourced approach to research. The focus of the questions suggested by the community was largely on Social Media and other emerging marketing tactics. From there, Equation’s job was easy – to select the questions that best represented what the community was asking and to deliver a great report when we were already assured that the audience would find the content both interesting and important.

After releasing the results exclusively to the MarketingProfs readers who created the questions, it was truly wonderful to see the study take on a life of its own. Apart from a press release , a blog post and a few tweets, Equation was best served by staying out of the way as marketers and readers shared the study with their peers, colleagues and friends using a variety of social networking tools.

The study results (along with some very positive mentions of Equation) appeared in numerous articles and dozens of marketing industry blog posts, including some of the most well-read Social Media blogs. Equation also created a landing page where anyone interested in the study could go to download the report and give their permission to be contacted by Equation – on an ongoing basis or for an immediate research need.

Overall the effort was a tremendous brand building success for Equation, resulting in hundreds of fresh connections in our target market as well as some great immediate new business prospects. And, some kind words from CK:

“Through their community-directed research study, Equation’s approach to engaging online audiences provides a prime example (and best practice) for all companies entering the Social Web. Equation Research involved the community at the outset of the project and then created a thorough set of data and findings that community members could use to improve their own work. Equation’s research work is impressive… and their marketing practices equally so.”
--Christina “CK” Kerley

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009 Marketing Industry Trends Study

Equation Research Presents a Marketing Industry Trends Study Created By, and For, Marketers

The 2009 Marketing Industry Trends Study is unique in that Equation opened up survey development to the Marketing Community - drawing the survey questions directly from marketers.

The feedback was outstanding - spurring diverse and thoughtful questions. Over 1,450 marketers representing clients (brands), agencies, consultants and non-profits responded to the survey.

And while the crowdsourced approach to research may in fact be the most ground-breaking aspect of all, the study delivers important findings that confirm the growing significance (and momentum) of social media and digital marketing tactics. Some of the key findings include:
  • Social media adoption rates - The adoption of social media is well past critical mass--with nearly two thirds of brand marketers (59%) currently implementing social media in their marketing plans.
  • Tools and platforms - Facebook, Twitter, online video and blogs are the 4 most popular social media tools. Yet none of these are being used in isolation--on average, there are 5 to 7 other social media tools being either actively used or dabbled with by marketers at the same time.
  • Current marketing spend - While traditional media channels account for the largest proportion of marketing spend; Online, Search and Social Media as a group are approximately a third of all current spend. For smaller companies this increased to over 40%.
  • Forecasts in spending - Looking towards 2010, brand marketers forecast a shift in spend towards digital tactics, feeling the areas most likely to increase will be Social Media (60%), Online Advertising (53%), Search Engine Advertising (49%) and Email Marketing (41%).
  • Mobile marketing - While current adoption of Mobile Marketing is low (only 11% of brand and agency marketers had it as a line item), there is interest in experimentation.
  • Uses of market research - Online ad testing is the type of research most likely to increase in the near future, with a third of marketers planning to spend more in this area.

For additional information and to download a copy of the 2009 Marketing Industry Trends Study, please click here

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Making a difference for Myrtle Beach

We spend a lot of time thinking about ways to make research truly actionable and how insights can make a real-world impact on a client’s business. And while much of the work we do provides important information and guidance, it’s not every day that we can see (and quantify) the direct economic results of research -- as was the case in a recent project for Myrtle Beach.

Myrtle Beach, like most U.S. tourist destinations, has been affected by the economic downturn and as a result of state budget cuts, their tourism funding budget was reduced this year from $18 million to about $5 million. That cut severely limited the ability to advertise to the tourist market within driving distance of Myrtle Beach, putting the destination at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

That’s where Equation came in. Earlier this year, we were asked to conduct a study to gauge the economic impact of tourism in Myrtle Beach. The goal of the research was to quantify tourism activity/behaviors in order to project what that meant in terms of actual revenue produced by the Myrtle Beach area.

The results were eye opening to say the least. Referencing the data from our study, a leading local economist concluded that if the economy caused consumers to spend 10% less in 2009, Myrtle Beach’s tourism business could lose 7,000 jobs and about $400 million in local business revenue.

This finding emboldened local politicians to go to the state capitol and fight for additional tourism funding, to be derived from a 1% increase in consumer taxes. Long story short, the state agreed and moved quickly to put the tax increase into effect. As a result, the new tax would raise an estimated $15 million or more for tourism efforts for Myrtle Beach and lenders became willing to immediately fund MB’s marketing efforts against the projected tax revenues. Now that is making a difference!

A key recommendation in this case that Myrtle Beach took to heart and something we’ve seen consistently across different clients and industries is that the best time (and some here at Equation might argue, the only time) to gain market share vs. competitors is in a down market. When times are good, everyone is marketing, client attrition is low and market share is unlikely to change drastically. However, when the broader economy or specific events in a given category cause the players to hunker down, cut budgets and avoid risks - THAT is the time for a brand to go on the offensive to increase market share.

So while the economic turmoil of 2009 poses huge challenges and hurdles for many companies, it also provides an even greater opportunity for those willing, able and smart enough to take the risk of actively pursuing a greater piece of their market.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The real originators of social networking?

Maybe not, but I think Coleman is on the money with this new campaign.

Great idea and they were able to pull off the message that Coleman invented social networking without coming off as arrogant. This works for Coleman mostly because they are staying true to what the brand really stands for and what it means to people. It’s also nice that their core products don’t get lost in the mix.

The old looking footage (real or not) and tongue in cheek tone help make the ads feel down to earth. On the other hand, I could easily see another brand trying a similar creative idea (alcohol/spirits come to mind) and coming across as egotistical or over the top. Just kind of feels right coming from Coleman.

There are lots of cool ways that they can and are starting to take this idea further. The iPhone apps are a terrific start – lantern and campfire story apps are fun and make sense coming from Coleman. The Facebook group is also a nice way to bring camping enthusiasts together while at the same time tying things back to the brand. Where else could they extend the idea?

A lot of brands are trying to figure out how to join the social media conversation. In an effort not to be left out, it’s easy to run with a “Just do something!” mentality, but misguided attempts can easily do more harm to a brand than just staying on the sidelines. It’s easy to spot a fake and consumers are a lot smarter than many advertisers give them credit. Nice to see a brand doing things in a thoughtful way, and from a credible position.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Research for marketers, by marketers

It’s been a while since our last post, but an exciting new project we’re working on seemed like the perfect excuse to get back in the game. With a good deal of help and inspiration from our friend Paul Soldera, we’re about to launch a first of its kind study (to our knowledge at least) designed by and for the marketing community.

Paul was able to hook Equation up with CK (Christina Kerley) who was drawn to the idea of developing a survey on industry trends with input directly from the marketing community. We’re very excited to be involved and CK has been absolutely great to collaborate with. She was able to help make this happen both through her own site and also via her blog on Marketing Profs.

CK explains the idea much more eloquently here but in short, we’re opening up the floor to questions from the marketing community for a survey to be sent to over 50,000 marketing and advertising professionals. The feedback has been great – quite diverse and very thoughtful questions including lots of good ones around social media and new ways of connecting with consumers.

We’re now in the (happily tough) process of picking ten questions that best reflect what resonated most with the community. These questions will be the focus of our annual Market Trends survey which we do to keep a pulse on what’s happening in the marketing and research world. Once the results are in, CK and her readers will get access to the information before it’s available anywhere else (it’s their data after all!)

As for Equation, we’re thrilled to facilitate this and to be part of a new way to think about research. Huge thanks to Paul, CK, Marketing Profs and especially the community for posing some great questions. We look forward to seeing the results and hopefully, making this an annual tradition.

Stay tuned!