Continuous Marketing Research

Continuous research is about opening, building, and maintaining “a dialogue” with audiences of interest. It provides businesses with a means to stay abreast ever-changing opinions, needs, desires, and behaviors.  Continuous research is undertaken to provide regular, ongoing data, information, and insights as opposed to ad hoc studies that are more project oriented and carried out at specific times for specific reasons.


This article overviews reasons for conducting continuous research and the tools that allow marketing teams to continually keep a finger on the pulse of their markets.



In support of data-driven decision making, businesses, and more specifically marketers, require research that is conducted regularly.  Using continuous research, marketers can adapt more nimbly and with more precision than ever before.  Continuous research is used for tracking, testing, understanding opinion, attitude, and behaviors, and for validation.


  • Tracking: Continuous research is used to measure, monitor, and track changes in consumer opinions, perceptions, sensitivities, behaviors, and needs. Marketing strategies and tactics are evaluated to understand performance, areas for improvement, areas of concern, and opportunities for change.  Data is gathered to benchmark and then compare over time.
  • Testing: Business and marketing planning is an ongoing cycle.  So too is the testing of marketing elements before employing them in any campaign.  Continuous research is used to evaluate any and all marketing ideas and provide insight to ensure effective campaigns, increase marketing ROI, and ensure that campaign objectives are met (e.g., build awareness, build engagement, encourage purchase, encourage advocacy).
  • Understanding: Continuous research gives organizations an ongoing, real-time look at who their customers are, how they behave, what they believe, and what they need. Staying informed allows marketers to be proactive rather than reactive.
  • Validation: For data-driven decision making, marketers must form hypotheses, test those hypotheses, and then plan, adapt, and optimize accordingly. Continuous research is used to validate or refute internal opinions and even resolve debates.



Research conducted on a continuous basis can answer a range of business and marketing questions.  Some examples of why brands use continuous research include:


  • Brand Tracking: Continuous research is conducted to stay abreast of brand health, as well as opinions, attitudes, usage, perceptions, and behaviors. Brand tracking is often used to measure awareness, usage, brand image, positioning relative to competition, sentiment about the brand, specific brand attributes, purchase intent, and overall brand equity.
  • Voice of the Customer: Capturing customer expectations, preferences, aversions, and evaluating recent experiences is measured.
  • Communications Tracking: Communications campaign tracking is used to understand overall effectiveness, impact, or performance relative to campaign goals. It is also used to measure marketing ROI.   Competitor communications are also tracked and evaluated on an ongoing basis for comparison purposes.
  • Customer Service Monitoring: Mystery shopping programs provide businesses and marketers with ongoing ammunition to prioritize change in customer service activities within an organization.
  • Customer Experience and Satisfaction Monitoring: Continuous research is a useful tool in the process of ensuring a positive customer experience and customer satisfaction. Regular measurement of customer experience and satisfaction is essential to continuous improvement activities.
  • A/B Testing: Whether for website development, packaging, communications, or product options A/B testing has been proven to help marketers understand comparative performance. In A/B testing a comparison is conducted with two versions of the same item (which are typically identical except for one variable). Continuous research allows business to have an ongoing cycle of creating and testing to optimize outcomes.



There are a number of tools available for continuous data collection.  Some of the most common tools include online communities, web panels/databases, omnibus surveys, mobile applications, and data dashboards.



Online Communities are incredibly useful for understanding of how customers and potential customers think, what they are feeling, and the reasons for behaviors.  Developing a multi-platform digital data collection space with opted-in target audiences allows brands to monitor organic conversations, ask simple and informal questions, conduct formal qualitative research, and if the community is large enough, quantitative research studies within a social media-like space.  Community members are actively engaged and collaborate with each other.  Somewhat ethnographic in nature, online communities allow researchers to “go deep” to uncover meaning and need states behind opinions, actions, and behaviors.  Members of online communities are essentially available to answer marketing questions instantly and data is compiled and compared over time.


Web Panels of consumers who have opted-in to participate in surveys have been a mainstay in Quantitative Research.  Not all Web Panels are of the same quality or size, so buyer beware.  The best Web Panels are sufficiently large ensure that a sufficient number of study participants in a defined population will respond to a study to ensure statistical accuracy without encouraging “professional respondents.”  The best Web Panels offer respondents who are “survey virgins” or have not participated in any Web Panel Survey in the recent past.  Web Panels and research databases remove the laborious task of sourcing participants for each survey and allow continuous research to be conducted in shorter timeframes.


Omnibus Surveys are a cost-effective way obtain quick-turn around answers to business and marketing questions.  Omnibus Surveys allow companies to purchase space on a questionnaire and include a set number of questions that will be answered by a pre-defined target audience (typically more broad, general population audiences).  Data is turned around in a few hours to one week.


Quantitative and Qualitative data collection using Mobile Apps allows researchers to follow B2C or B2B consumers throughout their daily life.  Consumers are, for example, accompanied on their forays into stores or restaurants, pushed survey notifications, and solicited for real time opinions about products, services and brands.  With geotargeting features, mobile applications can request feedback each time a person goes to a specific store (e.g., your brand or competitor brand).  Encouraging real-time participation in research reduces memory loss and provides more accurate feedback.


Live Data Dashboards allows viewing of data while data is being gathered.  Metrics are set-up to see frequencies, trends over time, and crosstabulations.  This 24/7 access to data cuts down on reporting timelines and allows marketers to reference current data when making decisions.



The adoption of continuous research may be used to the advantage of business by reducing risk and shining light on the unknown.  At any given moment business, and more specifically marketers, will be equipped with the information and insights they need to propel brands forward.





Heather Hatty is an Account Manager at Q2 Insights, Inc. a research and innovation consulting firm with offices in San Diego and New Orleans.  Heather can be reached at (985) 867-9494 ext. 2 or

This entry was posted in Trends and tagged on February 28, 2018 by Q2 Insights