Did you know that the PR industry is on the rise? Statista says that the global PR market is predicted to grow to 133 billion US dollars by 2027.

The industry’s unprecedented growth brings new challenges for PR professionals where social media plays a key role. We’re talking about revolution – customer research revolution – that has sparked a need to process and interpret large volumes of data gathered from various digital channels.

💡 Read Consumer Behavior Analysis 101: How to Learn More About Your Customers

So, now is the time for a big revelation: relying solely on traditional methods of customer research is no longer sufficient.

If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you must embrace the opportunity technology provides –  advanced data analysis and interpretation tools and methods. The good news? You don’t have to search far and wide for these techniques, as I have compiled them for you right here.

How Has Customer Research Changed Over the Years?

The PR landscape has shifted significantly over the years. You might be wondering why I am discussing history instead of providing actual techniques and solutions, but bear with me – understanding this evolution will change your perspective on customer research.

The bottom line? Internet and social media platforms have been the driving force behind the evolution—and revolution—of customer research. Let’s look at how traditional research methods stack up against digital methods when it comes to leveraging data in PR.

Traditional Customer Research Methods

Remember the Industrial Revolution? We all know that the transition from handcrafted goods to mass production didn’t happen overnight. The old and new technologies blended together until the new ones became dominant.

We see a similar trend in customer research. While digital data analytics is revolutionizing the field, traditional research methods still hold their ground.


Since their inception, surveys have been a vital source of data for PR marketers. Even though they’ve gone digital, the core function remains the same: to gather information directly from the consumers.

Why have surveys stood the test of time? Because you have a lot of control over what you ask. This results in what they call a well-designed survey – the one that leads to reliable and valid data.

Now, surveys aren’t perfect. They don’t provide instant data visibility like advanced analytics platforms and mostly track qualitative and volume metrics rather than custom high-priority KPIs.

Focus Groups

Now, let’s talk about focus groups. They have been a staple research methodology since the 1940s for a good reason. 

The depth of insight they provide can be hard to get through other traditional methods. In PR, we don’t just deal with cold, hard facts — we deal with people’s emotions. Conducting a research project using focus groups allows you to understand consumer’s sentiments and motivations.

However, like any research method, focus groups have limitations. These include small sample sizes, the risk of groupthink, and—let’s not forget—the potential to seriously deplete your research budget.

Digital Customer Research Methods

You won’t believe it, but I kept a notebook by my side while using Chat GPT during the first months following its release. Yes, I used it to write down prompt drafts. How crazy is that?

And you know what I realized? I can’t control the new challenges that progress creates, but I can adapt to them and eventually reach a new professional level.

That’s how digital customer research methods work: they’re not a burden you have to deal with. They lend you a helping hand in gathering and processing big data volumes in a way we’ve never imagined. Let’s explore these game-changing tools.

Social Listening Tools

Wondering what people say about your brand online? No need to run a survey on that. Social listening tools (SLT) take this task off your to-do list and collect mentions of your brand, products, or keywords across social media, forums, blogs, and news sites.

That was a simplified explanation because, IN REALITY,  SLTs help PR pros solve a broader range of tasks. By using them, you can:

  • Analyze sentiment:  Are people saying nice things or not-so-nice things about your brand? The AI social listening tool can answer that question. All it takes is typing in your brand’s name or relevant keywords such as “customer service” or “product review.” The tool will then assign a sentiment score based on your chosen keywords. 
  • Track brand mentions: This one is even more straightforward – the social listening tool will show you where and when your brand’s name has appeared online.
  • Identify influencers: SLTs also identify influencers who mention your brand, niche, or relevant keywords. They give you links to these mentions, so it takes only one click to contact opinion leaders in your niche. 

Data Analytics Platforms

Did you know that in 2020, the total amount of data in the world was estimated to be 64.2 zettabytes? Handling such large volumes is a BIG challenge even for seasoned PR professionals. But data analytics platforms are here to save the day.

Let’s say you’ve got a ton of social media data from your latest campaign. Instead of processing info from a single source, the digital analytic platform integrates data from multiple sources to help you:

  • Determine which demographics to target
  • Identify key influencers who are driving conversations about your brand
  • Track sentiment over time and correlate it with other business metrics
  • Predict future trends based on historical data from multiple sources
  • And more!

AI-Powered Solutions

AI tools have become a new norm for PR pros who jumped on board with the digital revolution. Don’t take my word for it – the research published on Statista in January 2024 is here to support this statement:

  • 68% of PR professionals surveyed believed AI would have the most impact on research.
  • 64% said it would impact writing and content creation.
  • 47% mentioned monitoring and measurement

Here’s a big question: who was closer to the truth about the impact of AI-powered solutions? The answer will surprise you. They all were.

AI tools solve a range of complex tasks that go beyond simple content writing (I wish that was a simple task!). They can analyze sentiment, identify trends, predict future outcomes based on previous patterns, and even give you recommendations on how to improve your PR strategy.

Are There All-in-One Digital Solutions?

I know what you’re thinking: “Sure, these tools you’ve mentioned sound great, but is it really worth the effort to learn and use them all?” I get it. Adapting to new technologies always takes some time and effort. 

But here’s the thing: big problems often lead to big breakthroughs. Determ’s media monitoring software proves that all-in-one solutions for digital customer research are not a distant dream.

Want to track your brand mentions across social media, news sites, and blogs? Done. Need to analyze sentiment, identify influencers, and measure your PR impact? Check, check, and check. What about competitor analysis, trending topic discovery, and detailed reporting? Determ’s media monitoring software has you covered there too.

Ready to see it in action? Book a free demo and prepare to have your PR world rocked!

Case Studies

Now, let’s get to the most beautiful part (quite literally!) of our post and look at how industry giants Maybelline and Bio-Oil have used digital analytics tools to improve their PR strategies.

Maybelline New Your

  • Goal: Relaunch Hyper Sharp Liner in Hong Kong with a 1-month social media campaign
  • Research: Analyzed consumer preferences and mentions of “Eye Liner”’ for Maybelline and competitors
  • Tactics: Recruited top bloggers based on engagement metrics, created 20+ tutorial content pieces for Facebook and YouTube
  • Results: Increased brand awareness and product perception across 3+ promotional channels


  • Goal: Engage and grow the social media community in the UK to protect its market leader position
  • Campaign: “Every Body has a Skin Story” with PR, advertising, and social media marketing across 4+ channels
  • Tactics: Engaged influencers, retailers, and new fans with #myskinstory, encouraged user-generated content pieces.
  • Results: 4,420 average weekly mentions, 3% engagement rate, 13.9 million reach, 90% positive sentiment.

Bottom Line

So, what’s the key takeaway here? If you want to stay ahead in the PR game, you can’t afford to ignore digital customer research methods. Social listening tools, data analytics platforms, and AI solutions will help you uncover insights, connect with your audience, and track your success like a pro. 

Author Florencio Leo, a writer for Detectico, brings expertise and passion to the tech industry, fueled by a lifelong love for digital innovation. With a degree in web and mobile app development, Florencio has become an invaluable authority on mobile surveillance applications. 

Skip to content