Why Insight First?

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Insight First

If you don’t have much time, skip to the isn’t insight gathering expensive section. This will hopefully help illustrate the value of taking an insight first approach can provide. If you have the time though I hope you enjoy the remainder of this blog post.

Being a marketing purist and pragmatist

Having worked in marketing, agency and E-Commerce teams throughout my career I found myself in 2015 really pondering on why I had been successful at achieving great results for the businesses I worked for and the clients I had served. The answer was simple I had always taken an insight first approach.

It is fair to say that I am a bit of a marketing purist with a marketing degree and postgraduate qualifications. Therefore, this may not come as a surprise that I would want to apply the theory and models I had learned during my studies. Yet as we all know once you arrive within a business a more pragmatic approach to marketing is often required.

I therefore had to take a balanced approach by remaining commercial focused and pragmatic, whilst applying the skills I had to offer.

Illustrating the value of an insight first approach

With the advances of technology, data and faced paced working environments it is fair to say that probably like many of you that often being pragmatic and just ‘doing’ was often something I witnessed across many of the businesses I came across.

For me though this didn’t’ feel right as unsurprisingly I was feeling that many of the elements/ models I had learnt were going to waste. At the same time, I felt I had a lot of value to add to the businesses I was engaged with by applying what I now call an ‘Insight First’ approach.

The challenge was then to get buy in within business cultures that in fairness had progressed by just ‘doing’. This is where I really started to appreciate the importance of illustrating ‘value’ to businesses and I therefore started to work on mini business cases to illustrate how spending more time & budget gathering insight and planning, would provide better returns, whilst providing the business in question with more confidence in the marketing process.

Building in an insight first approach

This often wasn’t a case of not being pragmatic and commercially orientated, but instead building parallel workstreams allowing for insight gathering and planning to work alongside implementing campaign activity. A process which would feed each other by also taking learning’s from campaign activity to then help insight and planning workstreams.

Throughout my career I have applied this approach to web optimisation, email, PPC, SEO, social and many other digital channels, as well as learnings feeding into offline activity such as TV, DM & press.

Time to give back to the industry I love

This time of contemplation in to 2015, then led me to believe that some of the unique approaches to insight gathering and planning was something that was not wide spread within the marketplace. In addition to this having utilised many agencies throughout my career I felt that many had not initially taken the time to undergo a similar process, which inevitable meant that often I’ve had to spend much more time with said agencies to educate them on our marketplace and business in order to get the most from them.

On reflection this didn’t seem right, but then also sparked a desire to set up a business that would arm clients and their agencies with insight gathering and planning services. It is then that Insightful UX was born with a focus to support clients, but just as importantly I wanted to advocate how business could grow faster, more efficiently and achieve better results by taking an Insight first approach, regardless of whether they utilised our services or not.

In what has felt like a very short year we have worked with some amazing brands and people to help implement this approach. As often is the case within businesses, we have also supplied marketing support due to a lack of resource in-house. This sees us supporting ad hoc projects or providing monthly on-going support in areas where they may lack people and or skill sets.

The outcome

Here are a few results from taking an insight first approach

  • Supported growing a business’s client base from 200k to 300k (sold for £58m)
  • Increased conversion rates from 6% to 22%
  • Increased the average income per sale by 300%
  • Increased annual sales by 18% on the previous year (same budget)
  • For many other’s we have increased income and reduced the cost per sale
  • For other’s we have armed their agencies with the insight to develop more effective solutions and campaigns

Isn’t insight gathering expensive?

I would say guessing at an approach and solution is more expensive and takes a business longer to understand the right approach. Here are some examples:

  • One of our clients had engaged with us to find out how to effectively target their prospects in terms of messaging. At the same time, they had been approached by a creative agency who had suggested some messaging. The messaging was powerful and looked right. Our research though indicated that the messaging was a complete turn off to the audience in question. This saved them thousands due to not implementing activity that would have failed.
  • Having utilised web user testing throughout my career. I am now never surprised at uncovering key elements that cause users to drop off, that no one would have guessed at. On one project, the main key finding from 20 by itself increased conversion by 5%. Without undertaking web user testing results would have been ok, but not amazing like they were when we rolled out the new website. The cost to undertake web user testing was insignificant compared to the additional income achieved.
  • A competitor review for a business illustrated that the approach they needed to take online needed to be very different to the approach they had taken to build the business offline. Without this insight, the business would have developed online activity which would have struggled to penetrate a very competitive online marketplace. They may have never have seen a positive ROI.

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