Archive for the ‘Research Services’ Category

Archive for the ‘Research Services’ Category

Housing Association research to make an impact

Greenfields Community Housing

Mackman Research is delighted to have worked with Greenfields Community Housing to deliver the results of their customer service and access survey. Greenfields is a housing provider based in the Braintree district, in Essex.

The study was designed to help Greenfields identify areas for future improvement within their communications to their customers and then to ascertain how these could be delivered. The access questions sought to recognise which customers need help to get online and use the internet. Additional questions asked about the use of the Greenfield’s website, to determine which customers make use of this and what would encourage them to visit the website in the future. To achieve the highest response rate possible, Mackman Research used telephone interviews and used random sampling to speak with 377 tenants. Greenfield’s stakeholders were notified that the customer survey would be taking place via their newsletter and that one lucky respondent would be selected to win £200 of high street shopping vouchers.

Research Director, Gemma Mackman said, “The Greenfields research study has provided worthwhile data which will make a real difference to the people who use their services; improving customer service, access and understanding of the internet for people who need help. The findings highlighted conclusive evidence of where activity can take place and essentially provides Greenfields with the robust data they need to recommend these actions. We are now working with our communications team at Mackman to ensure the research informs an effective and influential communication strategy for the organisation. This has been a rewarding project and we look forward to collaborating with Greenfields again.” 

If you have an enquiry for quantitative or qualitative insight for your organisation, please contact us at or telephone 01787 3788038

Minds, meanings and metrics – Impact conference 2015




The Market Research Society (MRS) has released full details of their Impact conference 2015 in London. This year the event is titled ‘Minds, meanings and metrics: consumer understanding in an uncertain world’ and is taking place on the 17th and 18th March 2015.

There will some big name speakers to discuss research in changeable times, including CEO’s, designers, entrepreneurs, artists and top selling novelist Sebastian Faulks, who will explain the secrets of the narrative arc and how to interpret the expectations of your customers / readers.

Sessions will cover thought-provoking subjects such as:

  • Polling statistics for the general election
  • Ethical debate on data privacy
  • Sampling in the internet age
  • Seizing people’s attention on social media
  • High tech solutions for big data
  • How research has helped amplify previously unheard voices
  • Reshaping brands
  • Reasons for insight failing to transform
  • Improving policy to reach people at the margins of society
  • Measuring social media
  • Re-discovering empathy when conducting research

For more information about the event and a full list of speakers, visit:

Bench mark customer survey results for Specflue


The Mackman Research team is delighted to have delivered the year on year bench mark customer survey results to Specflue, this month.

With offices in Suffolk, Devon and West Yorkshire, Specflue is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of flue, chimney and renewable heat products, supplying the UK market since 1992.

Specflue recognises the evolving relationship it has with its customers and the important implications and outlook this has for the company. By conducting a bench mark survey and listening to what its customers are saying for the second year, Specflue can measure customer expectations across the whole customer experience and recognise shifts in behaviour.

The survey was conducted using a mixed methodology (online and telephone). There was an excellent response from Specflue customers: Mackman researchers achieved a better than forecast participation rate in the six week collection period (27% more responses than predicted). This result achieved a confidence level of 95% and a confidence interval of 5.38%. With nearly 300 participants contributing to the survey, this high response is again testament to the close relationship Specflue has with its customers.

Gemma Mackman, Mackman Research Director said, “It has been an honour to work with Specflue again this year because they truly understand how they can improve business performance by continually gathering insight from their customers.” Phil Lowe, Head of Sales and Marketing at Specflue was pleased with the in depth report saying, “There is a lot of information here for us to go away and digest, but this insight gives us the assistance we need to inform future business decisions and meet changing customer expectations.”

Staff Focus: Sarah Nagra

Sarah Nagra

Sarah joined Mackman as a Client Lead in September 2014. Representing clients at every turn, she works closely with all departments – research, design, technical and communications – to ensure that we’re meeting our clients’ needs. Joining Mackman with a background in marketing, working alongside creative agencies across a wide range of projects, she has the necessary experience to support our clients, and we’re thrilled she’s joined our team.

What is your working background? 

I moved from Coventry to Suffolk in 2009, where I looked after the social media for Trading Standards at Suffolk County Council. I also set up a ‘Consumer Champion Network’, which required recruiting volunteers to educate the community about trading standards issues and protect vulnerable people from scammers. My work won me ‘Best Use of Social Media’ at the UK Public Sector Digital Awards.

I then moved to the University of Essex where I worked as a Marketing Officer for the commercial branch of the university before joining Mackman.

What first attracted you to Mackman? How has it been so far? 

I was first attracted to Mackman at a Chartered Institute of Marketing conference three years ago. I learnt about the work Mackman do from a member of the team and when the opportunity became available to work for the company, I just had to apply.

So far everything has been lovely! It’s been wonderful to work in a creative environment with people who are enthusiastic about what they do and are experts in their field. Having been used to working with marketing agencies, it’s also nice to be the other side of the desk, handling a variety of different projects.

What is the main challenge of your role? 

One of the challenges in my job role is keeping a project tight to schedule, absorbing any changes or extra requirements throughout the process. As challenging as it can be, I really enjoy getting to see a project through start to finish, there’s real satisfaction in that.

What do you do when you aren’t working? 

In my spare time I love to ballroom dance – the tango is my favourite. I also enjoy swimming, visiting friends and all that the Suffolk countryside has to offer – beautiful walks and even better food!

How much data do I need for my research project?

This is a common question we get asked, and one that needs careful consideration because talking to the right number of people or getting a significant number of people to answer your survey is vital to the statistical reliability of your research.

But how do you know how many respondents are enough? How big does a sample need to be in order to accurately reflect the attitudes / opinions of a population / the group of people who you want to understand?

Firstly, it is vital to establish who your population is: if you were doing an all-inclusive employee survey – this would be the entire workforce. If you wanted to find out how and why people use public parks in a particular city, your population would be the number of residents of that specific city.

Once you have figured out your population size, the next step is to consider how certain you need to be that the answers you collect reflect the views of the population as a whole.

In all of our surveys, we specifically consider statistical reliability of the sample size and use confidence levels and intervals.

‘Confidence interval’ is the plus-or-minus figure usually reported in newspaper or television opinion poll results. For example, if you use a confidence interval of 4 and 47% percent of your sample picks an answer you can be “sure” that if you had asked the question of the entire relevant population between 43% (47% – 4%) and 51% (47% + 4%) would have picked that answer.

The ‘confidence level’ is the likelihood of the sample accurately reflecting your population. A 95% confidence level means that if you were to repeat a sample of the same population you would get the same results 95% of the time – This is the most commonly used confidence level and if used, you can therefore say you are 95% certain (plus or minus the confidence level, as above) that the results are true of your whole population.

So how big does the data sample need to be?

This handy little table shows you a rough guide:

Sample size table

As you can see the calculation is not proportionally linear and there is a point when populations in excess of one million will generate the same sample size. At Mackman, we make certain you have the correct sample size for your research, so if you have a research project you would like to discuss, please get in touch.

New MRS Code of Conduct

The Market Research Society (MRS) has launched and updated a new edition of their Code of Conduct, which will come in to effect on 1st September 2014, and is relevant for market, social and opinion research. The Code is significant to the research industry because it underpins ethical research, best practice guidance, legal instruction and ‘exists to protect the entire research supply chain’. With the fast revolutionising research market facing questions about the collection and use of personal data, the MRS Code of Conduct is crucial in helping to protect and regulate first-rate research practice. This gives everyone concerned greater assurance in research from the research providers who adhere to the Code, through to buyers and research participants.

Jane Frost, the Chief Executive of MRS, has said: “The UK research sector is worth more than £3bn and it’s growing. The emergence of massive datasets and the public’s concern around privacy are just two examples of challenges to the sector that didn’t exist ten years ago, let alone sixty. The updated Code is the bedrock on which this sector will continue to flourish - it ensures that research is legal, ethical and transparent, and that is critical to customer and consumer trust.”

Our research director, Gemma Mackman, is a member of the MRS and thus all research carried out by Mackman Research , whether business to business, social, online, telephone, qualitative or quantitative, is executed in accordance with with the rules and regulations.

Our researchers also conform to the Code and follow strict procedures. We are always direct with our introductions when conducting research on behalf of our clients and offer an explanation as to why we are conducting the research. All responses are collected in a strictly confidential manner and in such instance both clients and participants remain anonymous throughout and breaches of confidence do not occur under any circumstances.


Electrical Oil Services Customer Perception Survey

Tom Lowcock and Andy Davies (EOSL) with Amanda (Mackman Researcher)

Tom Lowcock and Andy Davies (EOS) with Amanda (Mackman Researcher)

The Mackman team are working in collaboration with EOS to provide a strategic marketing plan for the company and the customer survey is the beginning of this substantial project.

As part of the EOS contract, Mackman Research designed a questionnaire, carried out telephone interviews, an online survey, analysed the information and prepared a findings report with detailed recommendations.

Mackman researchers contacted EOS customers in managerial, operational and technical roles to take part in the research, which looked at improvements, competitors and customer satisfaction ratings.

EOS, Sales Manager, Andy Bartram praised the work carried out by Mackman researchers and said it was “a great piece of work which confirms feelings we have had about the business and this data is invaluable in substantiating this information. This evidence will help EOS improve and make precise business decisions for the future.”

Sara Cullis, Research Client Lead said, “Our research proved that EOS has a dedicated customer base with a certain amount of control in the market place. It is clear that EOS is considered the market leader for the supply of reclaimed insulating oil, with customers describing them as ‘Professional’, ‘Reliable’ and ‘Efficient’. We are looking forward to building upon the thorough research findings to help EOS develop and implement future advances for their business.”

Lost digital treasures

In the news last week was the discovery of 28 digital works of art created by the late artist Andy Warhol as part of a commission for the 1985 launch of the Commodore Amiga (remember those?). The discovery was the culmination of a three year project to recover the contents of files found on floppy disks once belonging to Warhol.

Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry at the launch of the Amiga 1000 in 1985

Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry at the launch of the Amiga 1000 in 1985

Why did this project take so long though? Well firstly, the age of the disks meant that special techniques had to be used to extract the data without risking any damage to the media itself, but this in turn unearthed a greater challenge; how to make sense of the data recovered? Warhol used a long forgotten Amiga art package called GraphiCraft which, common to software of the era, used its own proprietary file formats to store created images (the now ubiquitous JPEG standard wasn't going to be issued for another 7 years). Only months of painstaking reverse engineering of this format by members of the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club finally enabled these images to see light of day again after nearly 30 years.


The question has to be asked therefore that if data from only 30 years ago required this much effort to relinquish its secrets, how safe is your data going to be in a similar period of time from now? In looking for an answer, do remember that 30 years ago, we didn't have the standards for the storage and interchange of data that we do today. These standards have been put in place to help, amongst other things, safeguard your data in the future - beware however the proprietary file format!

The 'EasyScript' word processor on the Commodore 64 creating this very document

The 'EasyScript' word processor on the Commodore 64 creating this very document


With more than a nod to the 1980s and a tip of the hat to Commodore, I decided before embarking on this news item that I was going to prepare this text on some retro hardware and software. My weapons of choice? - A Commodore 64 running the 1983 word processor "EasyScript". Unlike the students of Carnegie Mellon however, I had a slightly easier time getting this text back to 2014. Yes, the text was encoded obscurely and then subsequently wrapped in a proprietary file format, but then, I had the benefit of a conversion tool for Windows which I downloaded from the internet for free!



P.S. Does anyone know how to get an apostrophe on a Commodore 64 keyboard?!


Keeping research respectful – MRS clamp down on sugging


CEO of the MRS, Jane Frost has made it clear that there must be a division between what ethical research is and what direct marketing is. Research gets an unfortunate name from a few baddies in the industry who disguise the work they do as customer research. They are often a product marketer falsely pretending to be a market researcher conducting a survey, when in truth they are merely attempting to sell a product. Jane clearly states that we must protect the public from whom research draws its business from, or the whole of the industry gets tarred with the same brush. “Sugging has a direct impact on trust in the handling of data and thus response rates, fundamental to the health of the research sector”.

*Sugging denotes “selling under the guise of research” 

As a result of this activity, MRS has set up a new sugging hotline. This has been established for people to report on questionable use of research as a cover for other activities. You can read more about the MRS challenging the companies who carry out this bad practice, by clicking here.

You can be reassured that at Mackman, our researchers adhere to appropriate research working methods. We specialise in non-prescriptive, quality, and ethical research. Our research director, Gemma Mackman, is a member of the MRS and we abide by a strict set of rules and guidelines outlined by the organisation. We are always direct with our introductions when conducting research on behalf of our clients and offer an explanation as to why we are conducting the research. All responses are collected in a strictly confidential manner and in such instance both clients and participants remain anonymous throughout and breaches of confidence do not occur under any circumstances. Our methods also conform to the legal requirements as stated in the Data Protection Act 1998.

Find out more about our customer research here…

CIM National Excellence Award Winners

CIM National Excellence Award Winners

It’s been a good week at Mackman. Not only are we celebrating our 10th Anniversary this month, but we were awarded the Marketing Excellence Award in the Education Category at the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s (CIM) national awards ceremony.We were one of just 23 winners, selected from hundreds of entries, and accepted our award from comedian, Jimmy Carr.

We won the award after submitting the work we undertook on behalf of Harlow College. The integrated campaign was designed to raise awareness around the number one status at the College and began with two perception surveys with prospective students and parents of students. The results were used to inform some creative designs; developing new posters, video and a microsite, as well as a PR campaign.

Paul Mackman, director, said, “This has been the perfect start to our tenth year in business. We’re delighted as this project encapsulates the spirit of how our specialists work closely with clients to produce integrated campaigns that provide return on investment. Considering the scale and intense level of competition associated with the CIM awards, we’re glad to have done Sudbury proud.”

A targeted and strategic approach enabled our research, planning, communications, design and web development teams to create compelling campaign that achieved significant return on investment.

Simon Boyce, head of marketing at Harlow College, said, “Mackman’s comprehensive campaign delivered huge results for us. Winning the award verifies the standard of their work and passion for what they do. They worked closely with our in-house team and delivered a thoughtful campaign that produced a very positive response.”

Learn more about the project that won us the award, by taking a look at the Harlow College Case Study.