How to connect your research with living data
April 26th, 2023, Charlie Taylor

How to connect your research with living data

While the most insightful and successful research projects can change the trajectory of a business, no serious researcher can guarantee game-changing findings from every survey. Even with a well-targeted questionnaire, research projects can sometimes return unremarkable results or half-baked recommendations, leaving you with more questions than answers.

Did we make false assumptions about our audience? Should we have segmented our sample differently to understand certain demographic changes? Why didn’t we predict that big thorny question from the executive team or client?

Too often, insights projects leave you with a feeling of “if only,” and no incremental budget available to assuage it. This has long been an occupational hazard with market research, but it doesn’t make the process of navigating the inevitable challenges any easier.

Connecting the dots, and the data

YouGov has always been a very different kind of market research company. By building a proprietary panel of 24-million consumers and trusted source of syndicated data, we’ve become an “always-on” insights partner for our clients. We believe that in today’s hyper-connected world, the best consumer intelligence comes through fostering a highly engaged, diverse panel and building “living” data through frequent, short surveys that create a detailed portrait of consumer attitudes, behaviors, media consumption and brand preferences. This is the foundation for our YouGov Profiles and BrandIndex syndicated data products, which are now complemented by the first-party behavioral data from YouGov Safe.

While this real-time brand and audience data lets clients monitor the pulse of their consumers, we know it cannot answer every single research question. Custom research is essential for digging deep into industry trends, brand-specific initiatives and consumer attitudes. But what we’ve found – through countless client projects – is that when you connect the dots, you mitigate the risk of unremarkable results and “if only” outcomes.

When you connect custom research projects with YouGov’s deep source of living consumer data, you unlock deeper insights from all the previous surveys your respondents have taken. And through this layering of connected data, you improve the likelihood of quality insights, and can make easily actionable improvements at every step of the research process.

In short, connected data allows you to:

  • Build on a rock-solid foundation: Plan, analyze and understand what your audience thinks before you have even surveyed them.
  • Discover and deliver deeper insights: Uncover nuggets of gold within your survey results that you would have otherwise overlooked.
  • Flexibly extract more precise results: Connect your custom survey results with hundreds of thousands of other datapoints to answer follow-up questions from stakeholders in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Putting it into practice

If this all sounds a bit theoretical, let’s see how connected data works in practice. Imagine that a popular social media company wanted to offer its userbase a credit card with perks around livestream shopping. The company could just commission a standalone survey asking users about their current banking habits and preferred purchasing methods. The results would come back and give the answers to exactly the questions they had in mind, and nothing else.

But, what if the social media company had leveraged connected data at the planning stage?

YouGov Profiles data suggests that of the 155 million American adults who spent time on social media in the last week, 63% use a debit card for online purchases, as opposed to just half of all Americans. Are they using debit instead of credit because it’s easy? Because they feel like it’s safe? Do they know the benefits of a credit card and value the perks?

Digging further into Profiles data, it’s easy to see that of the Americans who use social media weekly and shop online with debit cards:

  • 88% find the idea of being in debt stressful (vs 80% of the general population)
  • 81% are more careful with their finances than they used to be (vs 76% of the general population)
  • 60% worry that they won’t be able to save for a rainy day (vs 50% of the general population)

These quick insights alone could help reshape or re-focus the research survey, and there are hundreds of thousands of other datapoints available to explore to ensure that the custom survey asks the right questions to the right audience.

Understanding the “why”

By leveraging connected data in the planning stage, the results from this custom survey will already be more in-depth than those of an uninformed survey, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. After the research comes back, the social media company cannot only analyze results across basic demographic crosstabs, but now can leverage the entire connected YouGov Profiles toolset to interpret the findings. This is where the magic really happens.

Let's say the social media company moved forward with a survey designed to understand the barriers to switching from a debit card to a credit card or digital in-app currency. With connected data, they could filter their results by whether or not respondents use Cash App, the other social media platforms they use, attitudes like trust in influencers, or thousands of other variables.

This type of audience analysis is especially helpful when stakeholders are reviewing the research. Whether it’s an internal executive asking a follow-up question immediately, or a client’s boss asking that obscure follow-up question after the client has already asked five other follow-up questions. Not to worry: the results are readily available, and the price is fixed.

Evolving insights

With custom research powered by connected data, the value earned only increases as the project evolves.

Because of the role of connected data in shaping the study and analyzing the results, the likelihood of needing follow-up surveys – and incremental budget asks – is greatly reduced. Though you can very easily re-contact your respondents or any other highly specific group with our self-serve fast turnaround surveys or with our expert team of researchers.

Connected data also opens up the possibility for efficiently tracking newly discovered trends or customer segments over time. In audience segmentation projects particularly, we’ve observed that many clients want to track trends and attitudes over time with hyper-targeted and niche audiences to ensure they are appropriately utilizing their valuable research.

Targeted audience segments can also be used to maximize the effectiveness of your advertising spend with purpose-built, precision audience activations. With verified, zero-party consumer data, you can now target your audience with impressive granularity, even in a cookieless environment.

Return on your insights spend

Ultimately, connecting custom surveys to an evolving, living database like YouGov Profiles allows researchers to consistently and confidently generate ROI in a world where budgets are tightening and spend is closely monitored.

Existing YouGov Profiles subscribers who conduct custom surveys with us can connect their results with syndicated data at no additional cost. And with the recent introduction of YouGov Profiles Snapshots, non-subscribers can now take advantage of connected data too.

In our humble opinion, connecting your custom data to a living database is the future; it really doesn’t make sense to do consumer research any other way - don't settle for limited insights and a half-answered brief.

Get in touch now to:

  • Increase the efficacy of your research projects

  • Generate increasing value as stakeholders request more insights
  • Produce the most efficient, developed and future-proofed insights in the market