Dedoose – providing context to qualitative research

One of the challenges that I have found over the years in my career has been getting technical (read engineering) people to accept and appreciate the value of qualitative research.

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In marketing, customer feedback is a critical part of understanding what customers need and value.  Whether the feedback is around product features, advertising, customer satisfaction, messaging, or other important customer engagement areas, qualitative research plays a key role.

Technical people by nature tend to gravitate towards quantifiable data.  This is why surveys with Likert scales (e.g. 1-5 ratings) or numbers driven research (the volume of units or click data) is frequently favored by more quantitative minded people.  Part of this is because qualitative data is, by the very nature of the data, open to interpretation and easy to manipulate.  Regardless, while quantitative data provides the measure, qualitative data provides the flavor – it provides the deeper understanding behind the quantitative data.

Because of the challenge of presenting qualitative data to broader audiences, I’ve learned over the years to use several tricks to make this data more palatable.  Things like boiling down the data to the ‘Top 10 most common statements” or “This message was consistent among X number of focus group participants”.  This works in some cases but it still leaves a lot to be desired.

Enter a fantastic new tool called Dedoose.  Dedoose is an online research tool that can be used individual or in teams of researchers.  It allows for the management of qualitative data or mixed methods input (both qualitative and quantitative data).

Dedoose provides a structured way to code transcripts from customer interviews, focus group research, email or online responses (think customer service emails as research input!).  Based on the coding, the data can be manipulated and presented in ways that make it understandable and broadly usable.  Because of the workgroup capabilities, people outside the research team can be given access to the data for their own review and manipulation (dangerous, I know – but at least possible!).  WebBasedFullSize_2

One of the (many) nice things about Dedoose is that it’s easy and fun to use.  Our research group had several folks that were not computer or data oriented and they were able to immediately begin using Dedoose and contribute to our project.

Why is this such a powerful approach?  It allows marketing teams to conduct research using different methods and use the Dedoose platform to integrate them into usable, actionable data fast and accurately.  Spending time defending qualitative findings is non-productive time for marketing folks.  Tools that provide better integration, analysis, and presentation of qualitative data are invaluable in getting to the answer more quickly and getting organizational understanding more quickly.

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I have no direct relationship with Dedoose other than as a subscriber.  I’m using it in some of my academic research and it’s one of the new tools that I’ve come across that I believe provide real value for marketeers.

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http://www.dedoose.com

Rumors of the Death of the 4 P’s are Greatly Exaggerated

With all of the excitement of Social Media and Digital Marketing, there have been a lot of articles and commentary lately about the demise of the 4P model.  For those that don’t know or need a refresher, the 4P model stands for Product, Pricing, Placement, and Promotion.  A good, simple overview of the 4P model is presented on the NetMBA site.images

Ogilvy and Mather published an article about the 4Ps being out and the 4Es being in.  While I agree with the value of the 4E model as an extension or addition to the 4Ps (I have this as required reading in the undergraduate digital marketing course that I teach), it does not replace the 4P model.

There have been numerous attempts to EXTEND the 4P model over time.  There have also been arguments about what constitutes the main P’s with some arguing that People should be added (for customer segmentation).

Some argue that the 4Ps have been replaced by the 7Cs.  An alternative way of thinking about this is that the 4Ps approach the marketing mix from the vendor/producer viewpoint while the 7Cs approach marketing mix from the Customer/Consumer standpoint.  I think that this is another model that goes deeper and is complimentary to the 4P model.

As a way of highlighting the continuing importance of the 4P model, I point to the recent issues in the marketplace around Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet launch as a way of showing how critical the 4Ps really are to successful marketing.  Regardless of your personal viewpoint (Pro or Con) regarding the Surface RT platform, the product has had a challenging launch and ramp by any objective measure and it can be clearly tracked back to three of the four P’s.

From a Product standpoint, the Surface RT has had strong positive reviews for it’s industrial design but has also had negative responses to it’s lack of available apps and inability to run legacy Windows applications.

From a Pricing standpoint, there has been strong pushback from reviewers on the initial pricing for the Surface RT.  While there have been pros and cons about the Surface RT pricing and price positioning (with and without keyboards), the fact that it is raised as a value concern in various reviews shows that Pricing and price-positioning is an important part of the marketing mix.

Finally, Placement has been a major issue as the product was initially available only in Microsoft’s stores and online.  There was some commentary early on in the announcements that this was a point product for Microsoft and would not be available through broad distribution as a way to minimize competitive conflict with Windows 8 OEMS but that has proven to be an issue for the product’s acceptance in the marketplace.

From a Promotion standpoint, Microsoft has done a good job of building Awareness.  Using the 4P model it is possible to see clearly the challenges that they have in driving Consideration and, most importantly, Conversion.

While there is always value in extending models and creating complimentary models, the claims that the 4Ps are irrelevant are questionable at best.  Like good brands, good models stand the test of time.

What’s the Value Proposition?

Distilling down the value proposition is always important, but it’s never as easy as it seems.  Creating a simple value proposition for iTaggit has been gnawing at me because the ‘value’ depends on who the user is.  For example, the value of iTaggit for an artist is to document their work and share it with potential buyers, the value for a dealer is to showcase items and assist with SEO, and for casual collectors it’s getting the value of their items.  So is the value Organize?  Showcase?  find the dollar value?  It can be all of those.

The problem is that the value is specific to the person hearing the value proposition.  I was struck by this today here at Demo as I listened to the executives on stage try to describe what their business is.  One executive talked about his site being a ‘mobile publishing platform for connecting social contacts and building a mobile social fabric’ or something like that….  The best one that I heard today was ‘the worlds easiest database for normal people to organize, publish, and distribute data’.   Pretty good.  I’m a semi-normal person.  The only thing missing is the ‘why’.

What we finally came up with for iTaggit is that we are ‘the online destination to organize, showcase, value, and monetize the things that you are passionate about’.

Why is this important?  In my experience (and borne out by watching multiple onstage demonstrations today) you get or lose the interest of the customer in the first two to three minutes.  If that’s what it’s like when there is a captive audience in a presentation forum, what’s it like when a potential customer is looking at passive ad content?  It’s critical to figure out what resonates to optimize the conversion of prospects to ‘interested’ prospects.

Helpful books for Web Marketing and Design

I’ve started a public collection on iTaggit of books that we are finding helpful in building our website and in assisting with Web Marketing.  The collection has the book information, our ratings and comments, and link to Amazon for those that want to purchase the books.  There is a great book on Google Analytics (it sheds some light on the black hole), homepage design, and SEO.

As we find more books that are relevant I will add them to the collection.   We are scouring and learning as fast as we can.  I will share what we find through the collection!

Finding out what users REALLY do…

We’ve had endless debates internally about what customers want to do with our site and what works or doesn’t work with the layout of the pages. We have tried things that work in traditional marketing such as focus groups, surveys, analytics, etc. Unfortunately, what people tell you they WANT to do doesn’t always translate into what users REALLY do when they are on a site.

One of our eminent advisory board members (thanks Wendy) spoke to us several months ago about the importance of tools such as heat maps to see what goes on with the site. We finally found a great tool that is beginning to expose real issues and opportunities in building a site that users will really Heat Mapuse.

CrazyEgg (www.crazyegg.com) is a great tool that allows web site managers to visualize what users do when they visit your site. Heat maps tell you by color where clicks happen. Here is an example – this is a landing page for Antiques. What you’ll notice is that there is a tremendous amount of clicks on the search box and go button on the right, on The Gallery and My Home on the left, and nothing on the orange Take the Quick Tour button in the prime location in the middle! Obviously this is a page that we are going to redesign!

Another great feature is called Confetti – which gives you detail by click about what users do. They show things like time to click, operating system, browser type, search term, and other important facts about user behavior and profiles.

The best thing about CrazyEgg is the cost and the ease in implementing the tool. CrazyEgg starts at FREE and is priced based on need up to $49/mo. We are using one of the lower pricing tiers at iTaggit and it’s working great for us. The best part is that we can ramp up our pages and tests as we need to on demand.

Implementing the tool is easy. It’s a line of code on the page that needs to be watched. It took us an hour to implement the tool and immediately started to see results.Confetti

I’m not in the habit of trying to push someone else’s product, but this one is a great tool for any web marketer’s arsenal. Let me know if you find this tool useful. I’d also like to know if tips on tools like this is worthwhile too.

Customer Acquisition Costs

Here’s a real challenge – what makes up the true acquisition cost for a customer in a user-generated content site?  And what constitutes a ‘customer’?  Since revenue on sites like ours is driven by advertising and affiliate product purchases a ‘customer’ can be either a registered user (who can contribute content) or a visitor (who just looks at the content).

Customer Acquisition cost is made up of 5 major contributors in a business like ours – Pay Per Click advertising (Google, Yahoo), Banner Advertising, SEO Optimization, Viral Marketing Campaigns, and community management (headcount driven).  But these costs can drive both registered users and visitors.   Here are the relevant metrics from my view:

1) Cost per Registered User – monthly aggregate marketing spend/# of registered users

2) Cost per Visitor – monthly aggregate marketing spend/# of Unique Visitors

3) Cost per Action for Pay Per Click advertising

4) Cost per Action for Banner and Viral Marketing

These are interesting metrics to track and trend, but they beg some real questions.  How do we define an ACTIVE registered user vs. just a registered user?  Does it matter?  How do you factor in the value of items added as compared to number of registered users?  Is one user that adds 200 unique/interesting items (which positively affects SEO and visits) more valuable than a user that adds 2 items (or none, but blogs)?   Is there a way to segment registered users in a way to spend more efficiently to get the high value registered users?  Is that a smarter spend than just driving activities to get visitors who may drive more purchases and ad views/actions?

If you think about this question, it has important ramifications for most web 2.0 companies.  I’d be interested in understanding how others approach this question.