Evidence-Based: How Primary & Secondary Research Works Best In Data-Driven Marketing

“I dunno, Google it.” Words we often hear when searching for the answer to some obscure question. What some may find a quick answer to a silly request, others may claim to be “research.” We at DDL are clear on our stand in this debate: Googling something is NOT doing research. It just isn’t, and here’s why.

Research in marketing and advertising is a deep topic, so deep that some of our staff still get a shiver down their spine when you bring up their favorite college course: Research Methods. More than just a grueling higher education course, research in marketing is needed to validate trends, predict consumer behavior, and, of course, justify an ad spend to whoever is signing the checks.

In marketing, we divided the research into two main groups, Primary and Secondary – scintillating, right?

What is Primary Research?

Primary research refers to any information gathered on a topic from the source. Think opinion polls, testimonials, or campaign reporting. This data conveys precisely how your product, service, or idea is received by those using or consuming it.

Marketers use this research to understand how their tactics and strategies affect the results of campaigns. This kind of research also allows reoptimizing or changing a product before a larger audience consumes it. Case in point: Bow Wow Labs and Fetch RI!

Our friends at Bow Wow Labs are revolutionizing the pet industry with their safety devices and their newest product: the Epic Chew. This long-term chew comes in various flavors that provide a range of benefits to the dogs that love them. Which sounds great but still begs (sorry, we had to take the easy pun) the question, “How did the dog come to love them?” The answers can be found at Fetch RI, a holistic pet store in Richmond, Rhode Island.

Fetch served as a test store for the Epic Chews and other Bow Wow Labs goodies to help determine which products dogs preferred. Fetch would sell limited batches of the long-term chews and monitor customer feedback. These testimonials, or primary research, directly affected how Bow Wow Labs altered their product to suit a broader range of happy customers.

As a result, the Epic Chew saw an incredible official launch and is now available at Target all over North America.

What is Secondary Research?

Secondary research refers to any information synthesized or published by a reputable source. Pay very close attention to those two words: synthesize and reputable. Synthesize means to make something by combining two different things. Reputable means employed widely or sanctioned by good writers (Don’t believe us? Look it up). These words are important because they separate secondary resources from “just Googling it.”

When consuming secondary research, the source (where you’re getting the information) has already synthesized the data. Basically, they have taken the primary research and drawn conclusions about it. While very helpful for those unable to conduct primary research, this does create the potential for bias or the unfortunate threat of “misinformation” (which we can not believe is even a word, but it’s 2024). Despite the rigors of data science and its commitment to presenting only evidence-based facts, the potential exists for bad actors to skew data or provide incorrect information. This is why our second keyword, reputable, becomes essential. 

Trusted, verifiable sources are less likely to struggle with the validity of their research as they use fact-checkers and other methods to keep data bias-free. Examples of trusted sources DDL deals directly with include Neilson, Scarborough, and the Sinclair broadcast group for information about customers and their viewing habits. 

Why is Secondary Research Important?

Trusted secondary research is crucial to understanding your target audiences, where they exist, and how they behave. Studies are published all the time that marketers use to inform their strategies. One of our favorites is how many times a day Americans check their phones (it’s a lot). Picking up these reports and briefs from companies like Sprout Social, Adweek, and other reputable industry players is how marketers adjust their tactics to maximize their clients’ value.

How Does DDL Uses Primary and Secondary Research?

We are no strangers to both types of research. We love a testimonial and know a thing or two about campaign reporting. We also have an expansive partner list we rely on to get the most accurate secondary research about the audiences you are trying to reach. We use this research and our team of strategists to provide the perfect blend of tactics that, data has proven, will connect with your customers and motivate them to act.

Looking to start your research project? Or need help figuring out how to reach your audience, we can help with both!

The Takeaway

Googling something isn’t research. Clicking the first article that you see isn’t research either. Good research takes time, diligence, and a conscious awareness of telling the story as it exists, not how you want it to be. Primary research is direct from your customers’ mouths, and the secondary research reports on those primary methods. Both are necessary when creating a successful product or brand. Lucky for you, DDL is skilled at both!