Mystery Users : The Digital Age Marketing Shopper

Posted on Dec 8 2013 - 3:32pm by Fayaz

Mystery shopping as a tool of market research is not something new to the Marketing community. Mystery shopping is a technique in which a company appoints an anonymous customer to test the effectiveness, discover the drawbacks, analyze the competitors strategy and so on for a particular brand. Mystery shoppers can also get trained to obtain the right kind of product required for the customers’ needs.

With the emergence of social media, most organizations can now inform the customers about their product/service through this as well. Organizations have sales promotions, conduct online competitions and keep communicating with their customers (or rather followers) on the social media. Hundreds of articles are now available , at just a click away , on the internet, that explain effective marketing on facebook. Many organizations, however fail to understand that there may be a gap between customers’ satisfaction and the value proposition delivered to the customers since social media is not a physical market. This gap can be bridged to an extent by a mystery user, analogous to a mystery shopper.

A mystery user is a person hired by the organization to track the company’s facebook page with a much more detailed analysis than what an admin of that respective page can do. Again, the mystery user may or may not be a part of the organization but should necessarily to be certified as mystery user by the organization.

So how can the mystery user bring a positive change to the organization’s social media marketing ?


  • Target audience: Well, one of the most important tasks of a mystery user is to investigate how many people from their target segment have actually understood the positioning of the organization’s product/service correctly. This can be simply done by visiting the profiles of those people who have liked (or are followers of) the page. For example, If Maggi targets married working women and if its page has 5000 likes on FB, a mystery user is expected to check every follower’s profile and find out whether he/she belongs to the target profile and also , how many people from target audience are actually following the page. This gives them an approximate idea of positioning the product on their facebook page.

The Pie chart Below shows the split up of the number of people from different Target       Segments who are following their page :




  • Assurance and reliability to consumers: Other important thing to be taken into consideration is the assurance and reliability, the admin builds on the page. There are  times when the consumers have queries, get into  confusion or end up in a conflict with a particular post. In such cases, the mystery user has to accurately track the number of  times the admin has given a satisfying reply  or make a note of  the issues that have given rise to conflicts or anger in people’s minds. The mystery user can do this job perfectly because, he is also a user who is not a part of the organization (by being empathetic).



  • Timing aspect: Mystery users can identify the optimum time to post a promotion /  advertisement / status so that it has maximum visibility to the target audience. Target audience might differ according to different demographics. Every segment has a different time of Facebook access. A mystery user can simply track the responses generated on each post by accounting the number of likes, “seen by” and comments/share.  Accordingly, the companies can choose the time of posting a particular component.


The two graphs shown below project the no of people who visited the company’s page at each interval of hour depending on the time of the post, one of which was posted at 8am and the other at 8pm. When the post was made at 8pm, there were more number of visitors on the post as compared to 8am. However, as time passed by, after 4 hours of interval, the no. of people visiting the 8am post were more than the 8pm post. This explains the timing and the target audience effect.




  • Acting as an undercover agent: A mystery user can serve as an important source of information about the competitors facebook page. He can use similar methods to track the activity in the competitor’s page. For eg: how many people from target audience like the organizations competitors page than its own. Comparing this data, provides useful insights and helps the company make decisions on its social media accordingly.


  • Irritability quotient: Mystery users can be useful to determine the irritability quotient of the users by considering the amount of posts generating in a day or a week and accordingly work on the factors of time and number of posts a day/week.
  • Influencing the no. of followers: A mystery user can influence the no. of followers by maintaining a data of new followers everyday and finding similarities among them. For example: There is a business magazine/newspaper brand that has an FB page. It has been noticed that a person from a particular B-school (say IMT Ghaziabad) has liked their page. After few days, the mystery user notices that almost 15-20 students from that B-school have liked that page. This gives an opportunity to the company to hold an event in that particular B-school increasing its fan base and hence its sales.  Also, at the same time, posting the news relating to this campus may invite other colleges to do the same and thus the organization has an overall good reach to its target audience.



  • Eye-catching posts: Captivity of a post in the minds of the customers is a direct projection of the creativity employed. Mystery users can enable improving the creativity of a post. For example, during office/school timings, a person does not really have time  to go through entire details of facebook page. To combat this situation, organizations need to keep lesser text and greater visual effects to convey the message so that it is immediately appealing. Also, keeping a video during office timings is really not advisable. Office employees can also be used as mystery users. If the user is able to recall after a significant interval of time, the post of the page that was made during the peak office hours, then it can deemed to be a success!

The article is authored by Akash gada & Dasarathi varatharajan from IMT Ghaziabad .

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About the Author

Fayaz is the founder of Marketing Bloggers. Apart from the jibber-jabber he is Human by birth, Engineer by mistake, Marketer by Choice.. That says it all :)

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