It’s easy to conduct market research online using market research surveys. They’re an affordable and reliable way to gather information from your target markets. So whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a small startup, use market research surveys to better understand your target audience.
They can be used to access key demographic information, and then you can find out just about anything—from what customers like about your brand to what kind of product your market needs.
Pursuing market research is ultimately well worth the effort. Why is this true? Because guesswork and gut instincts don’t cut it when it comes to launching successful products and crafting the right marketing messages. Don’t just take our word for it. According to Clay Christensen’s book, “Milkshake Marketing”, 19 out of every 20 new products that launch, fail.
To position yourself to keep existing customers, or gain new business, you’ll need the right data to back you up. Learn the tips and tricks to conducting market research surveys so you can get the answers you need.
Before you begin your market research survey, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the two main types of market research: Primary market research and secondary market research.
Here’s an overview of each:
Primary market research- The process of gathering new data that hasn’t already been collected. Examples of primary market research include a market research survey, an interview, or a questionnaire.
Secondary market research- Gathering data that’s already been produced. An example of secondary market research is using pre-existing data to support your content.
To give you a real-world example that shows how each research type differs from the other, check out our blog post on dating apps. We use research we’ve collected ourselves using SurveyMonkey Audience while also referencing pre-existing external data points from sources like the Huffington Post. In the former case, we’re conducting primary market research as we’re collecting the data with a survey. In the latter case, we’re engaging in secondary market research since we didn’t participate in the process of collecting the original data.
Now that you know what a market research survey is, you can use it to benefit your business planning. Here are a few of the most popular ways market research surveys are used by businesses, and tips on how to get the best data out of them.
Reach a specific audience
Surveys offer a great opportunity to get input from your target market—if you have a good market sample to send surveys to. Maybe you have a customer list or a big group of social followers to work from. You can customize your outreach efforts using our collector options.
If you have trouble finding your target market, you can reach them through our panel of respondents on SurveyMonkey Audience. You’ll get access to millions of respondents who are ready to provide the answers you need.By sending a survey to members of your target market (or markets), you can make sure your efforts will be as effective and reliable as possible.
Research and analyze a target market
Your marketing budget is probably one of your business’s largest expenses. Before you earmark funds for any marketing plans or initiatives, you need to be confident that the strategies you’re considering will drive your success.
A market research survey can help you understand several aspects of your target market; allowing you to improve the quality of your decisions. This includes anything from understanding the potential market size to determining the optimal price for your products.
Measure brand awareness
Your company or product might mean the world to you, but it’s hard to know what your target market thinks of it. A brand awareness survey can help you get an idea of exactly what your customers and prospects think about your company, image, products, etc. Ask respondents how they feel about you compared to your competitors, and why they are more (or less) interested in your products and services. That way, you’ll be able to know if your market even knows you exist, and where your brand lies on their “list.”
Gain insights on your product, or a future product
Does your product meet your market’s needs? The only way to find out is to research it. Sending an online product feedback survey to your target audience will help you gain insights that drive product improvements, innovations, and ultimately lead to efforts that boost sales. To get product feedback, you’ll ask questions like: “What changes would most improve our new product?” Or, “What do you like most about competing products currently available from other companies?”
Before you launch a new product, it’s important to test it. To help you get started, check out our New Product Research Template.
When testing or researching your product, ask your target market the following questions:
When researching your product…
When testing your product…
Know where you stand compared to your competitors
Want to know who you should keep an eye on in the market? Consider conducting a market research survey for maintaining competitiveness. The best way to get answers on this type of market research survey is by going directly to your target audience. That way, you’ll be able to get an inside look on their buying process and how they think about products that are similar to yours. You can also ask your target audience whether certain marketing materials draw them toward your product versus other products, and how they want to interact with you and your brand.
Research and analyze a target market
With the increasing importance of social media in your marketing mix, online social media surveys are a great way to figure out which social media channels you need to pay attention to. Likes and retweets only tell you so much. Surveys help you understand the “why” and give you ideas for how to serve your market better on each channel. You can also use your social presence as a means for collecting feedback. For example, you can post surveys on Facebook or Twitter to gauge interest in new product categories or features.
Dive deeper into customer demographics
Need to identify potential customer demographics in a new service area? Ask potential customers about their gender, age, location, income, where they shop, what they do for fun, how many children they have, and more. Just remember to ask these questions at the end. Like an in-person conversation, you want to build rapport with your respondents first before you ask them more personal questions.
Demographic information is essential to helping you understand your target market, which, in turn, improves your messaging and campaigns.
Easily conduct market segmentation
Segmenting your target market—honing in on smaller groups that share common attributes (such as demographics, geography, lifestyle, product usage, brand affinity, etc.)—might just help support decision making processes and tip the scale in your favor. To gain this competitive advantage, many marketers send online surveys.
A health club owner could segment based on facility or service usage (spa, cardio equipment, daycare, nutrition classes), while a consumer packaged goods company might segment based on lifestyle (health-conscious, low-cal, vegetarian diet). When you do market research, it’s easier to identify different segments and know what they want.
Decide which creative assets to use in your next campaign
Would your target audience be more likely to respond to an online banner ad or a billboard on the highway close to their homes? Which email subject line would increase the chances that your target audience clicks through to the product detail page? And do you need to test a new ad format? Market research surveys can help you put these questions to the test and get feedback that points you in the right direction. Over the long run, you’ll be in a position to better prioritize your ad spend and resources.
Use it to test branding, positioning, and naming
“Just do it.” “Think different.” Why do some company taglines get all the love? Why do loyal customers refuse to be wooed by lower price tags, and choose to stick by their favorite brands? The most revered brands listen to their target audience, and tailor their marketing strategies accordingly. Test branding and naming concepts to help you understand the attitudes, motivations, and preferences of consumers, especially in relation to your competitors.
If you’re looking to bootstrap your own concept testing program, from developing your logo to perfecting your tagline, check out our “Ultimate Guide to Concept Testing.”
Understand consumer sentiment in the market
When it comes to investing, there will always be uncertainty. To help you feel better in deciding where to buy and what to sell, research consumers’ opinions on markets and industries. You can ask about specific businesses and topics if you’re looking for more targeted investment insights. Running investment research surveys on a consistent cadence will help you decide when to make changes to your portfolio.
Learn how analysts use surveys to conduct investment research.
Create fresh, original content
Building stories that reference people’s opinions and preferences benefit your content in all sorts of ways. It helps you uncover new, fresh angles you wouldn’t have discovered on your own. At the same time, it adds a ton of credibility to your claims and attracts coverage in the press.
See how we use data when we write our own blog posts.
Perform academic research
Progress in academia often requires tangible, real-world data. Consumer feedback offers the data points you need to move your research forward, whether you’re a researcher or a graduate student.
Transform customer feedback into compelling testimonials and reports
Our content marketing software automatically transforms customer feedback from your satisfied customers into persuasive, credible collateral. Capture the voice of your happy customers and make sure your prospects hear what others have to say about your brand.
An expert-made market research survey template (vetted by our survey research scientists) can help you begin your own market research. You’ll be able to ask your target audience about their demographics, preferences, and more. No matter what you decide to conduct your market research on, these tips will help you make sure your market research survey is on the right track.
1. Define the problem.
Before you even start thinking of what you should research, you need to think about why you’re researching it in the first place. What problem are you trying to solve with this data? How will it benefit your product, your customers, or your company in general? Asking these questions will allow you to understand the issues and the type of data you’re looking for.
2. Establish research objectives.
Once you’ve identified your problem, you’ll need to set a research objective that focuses on how you’ll complete your study. Essentially, your objective is a goal you’re hoping to reach with your market research survey. You can formulate it as a question. For example, your objective could be: “If we change the functionality of this product, how will customers react to it?”
To come up with direct, thoughtful goals, you’ll need to ask yourself a variety of top-level questions. This page walks you through the different things you should ask yourself.
3. Target the right audience.
Determine why you’re trying to reach your audience. It’s also worth considering how niche your audience is. The more specific your audience criteria gets, the harder it becomes to identify enough respondents. In addition, it gets more expensive. To ensure you have a suitable sample size that fits within your budget, consider loosening your population criteria. Alternatively, you can use screening questions at the beginning of your survey to either qualify or disqualify respondents from taking it. Learn how by reading, “A guide to using screening questions in your survey.”
4. Decide on your margin of error.
This means defining the degree of confidence that your results match up with the opinions and preferences of the entire population (of those who fit your criteria). Learn more about the relationship between your sample size and margin of error here.
5. Set timelines.
When will you send your survey out? How many times will you send it out? When are you hoping to get all your information by?
These questions help you set timelines for your survey. They also impact the quality and quantity of responses you receive. For example, surveys have a higher response rate between the hours of 9-10 am than 10-11pm.
Want to learn more about when to send your survey? Check out this webinar. It features 2 of our survey experts sharing their best practices.
6. Use resources and tools to help you.
SurveyMonkey offers an immense number of market research survey examples. Use them as templates for creating your own survey or as a guide in building one from scratch.
7. Use the right tools to start collecting and analyzing data.
It’s time to send your survey out! Choose from a variety of options when deciding how to send it. And when the responses come back, use SurveyMonkey’s Analyze tools to conduct your data analysis at a high level. You’ll be able to find hidden patterns in your data, and spot insights you’ve never discovered before.
It’s worth noting that you can run market research with your customer base. Sending market research surveys to customer lists is more common in business-to-business (B2B) and eCommerce business-to-consumer (B2C) companies where customer email addresses are more accessible. When companies don’t have direct access to their customers, they will turn to consumer panels to target the people they need to reach.
If you have a choice, you should test on prospects who are likely to purchase in your category. Customers have a higher chance of being biased based on their pre-existing engagement with you. And when you don’t have prospects to target? SurveyMonkey Audience is your best bet.
If you’re set on running market research with your customers, consider these additional tips:
Don’t bug your customers. Make sure you’re sending your survey out to customers a reasonable amount of times.
Let customers know their voice matters. Assure them that what they say in your survey will matter and that their voice can lead to an improved customer experience. A good time to share this message is in the survey introduction.
No matter how you plan to conduct market research, or what trends are at play in the market, use online surveys to get quality data fast and easily. They’ll allow you to better understand the market and your consumers.
Ready to get started? Create a market research survey today.
Here are some ideas to ensure that respondents will answer your surveys.
If your survey is short and sweet, there's a greater chance that more respondents will complete it.
Little incentives like small discount or an entry into a drawing can help ensure respondents complete your survey.
With SurveyMonkey Audience, you can purchase access to an audience who meets specific demographic criteria for your survey. It's a great way to get targeted responses from a specific group.