The ultimate guide on how to conduct market research
It’s simple to conduct market research online. Market research surveys are an affordable and reliable way to gather information on your target market.
Whether you’re a Fortune 500 or a small startup, market research surveys allow you to research your customers and discover more about them.
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.
Guesswork and gut instinct won’t cut it when it comes to launching successful products and crafting the right marketing messages. To keep your existing customers, or to 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.
Primary market research vs. secondary market research
Before you begin your market research survey, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the two main types of market research. While primary market research and secondary market research can both give you insights on your target audience, the process in which they gather data is completely different. Knowing the difference between the two will give you a better idea of what type of market research you’d prefer to conduct.
Primary market research is the act of gathering new data that has not already been collected. That means you are actively seeking out and getting the data that you’re going to analyze. A market survey, an interview, or a questionnaire are all examples of primary market research. Whether you’re talking to people in person or conducting a survey online, you’re actively participating in getting the data.
Secondary market research involves gathering data that has already been produced. Say you’re doing further research on a study about the average amount of sleep adults in the U.S. get each night. You could be researching how sleep affects adults’ day-to-day food intake. You’re looking at the sleep study for reference and trying to find studies about Americans’ food intake. If any part of your research does not involve actively getting the original data from sources (via interviews, surveys, etc.), then you’re conducting secondary market research.
How market research can grow your business
Now that you know what a market research survey is, you can use it to benefit your business. 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. If you don’t, SurveyMonkey Audience has some insights on how to do market research. It gives you access to millions of respondents who are ready to provide the answers you need. By sending a survey to members of your target market, 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 analyze the potential market size, find a prime location for your retail store, or the optimal price for your products. The effort you expend on a market study will be rewarded with go-to-market strategies that have a higher chance of success.
Understand your customers better
It’s not easy to find out what your customers are thinking. But if you can, you’ll be able to keep them and stay connected with them.
To make sure you’re getting the most responses on customer satisfaction market research surveys, follow these tips.
1. Plan out your target audience. Determine why you’re trying to reach your audience, find out their location, if they use your product, how old they are, etc. This will help you really focus on the people who matter to your research, and help you get the most valuable data.
2. Don’t bug your customers. Make sure you’re sending your survey out to customers a reasonable amount of times. You don’t want to bug your customers to a point where they start ignoring your survey requests.
3. Time your survey perfectly. When it comes to sending your survey, make sure you’re doing it at a point that makes sense. Examples could be after people have bought your product online, or once they’ve left your store.
4. 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.
Measure brand awareness
Your company or product might mean the world to you, but it’s hard to know what your customers think of it. A brand awareness survey can help you get an idea of exactly what your customers think about your company, image, products, etc. Ask your customers 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.”
Use branding and brand identity surveys to diagnose your brand image and build your brand.
Gain insights on your product, or a future product
Does your product meet your customers’ needs? The only way to find out is to research it. Sending an online product feedback survey to customers will help you gain insights that drive product improvements, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, sales. To get product feedback, you will 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 plan to launch a new product, it’s also important to test it. Market research surveys can help you do both.
To solidify a market research plan, here are some things to consider asking in your survey:
When researching a product, try to find the answers to these questions:
- How well is your product performing in comparison to what your customers expect?
- How reliable is your product to customers?
- Does your product’s marketing messaging make sense?
- How is your customer service for that specific product?
When testing your product, keep these questions in mind:
- Do your customers have appetite for a new product?
- What’s your competitive advantage?
- Which products can bring you the most revenue?
- What product features do your customers like best?
Want more sample questions about product research and testing? Use our market research survey examples that are focused on product testing.
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 competitive analysis. The best way to get answers on this type of market research survey is by going directly to the customer. 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 customers whether certain marketing materials draw them toward your product versus other products, and how they want to interact with you and your brand.
Build social media strategies and campaigns
With the increasing importance of social media in many companies’ marketing mix, online social media surveys are a great way to figure out which social media channels they 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. Post marketing surveys on Facebook or Twitter to gauge interest in new product categories or features. And if you send out company updates via a blog, LinkedIn, or Facebook, you can use an online survey to find the answers you need.
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. You can then target your messaging and campaigns to really speak to your customers so that you can concentrate time and resources on where they’ll matter most.
Easily conduct market segmentation
Segmenting your customers—honing in on smaller groups that share common attributes (such as demographics, geography, lifestyle, product usage, brand affinity, etc.)—might just help to 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) to develop finely-tuned marketing programs that target the needs of one or more of the segments in order to increase membership sign-ups. 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 customer base be more likely to respond to an online banner ad or a billboard on the highway close to home? Which email subject line would make you click through to the product detail page? Do you need to test a new ad format? Helping to prioritize ad spend and resources, online marketing surveys should be an essential tool in your strategy toolkit.
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 customers, and tailor their marketing strategies to their target audience. Surveying your customers to test branding and naming concepts will help you understand the attitudes, motivations, and preferences of your customers, especially in relation to your competitors.
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.
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6 tips to help you create the perfect market research survey
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 using the questions in our best examples of market research surveys. 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? Make sure you plan this stage out well. It will help you ask the right questions to get the 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 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?”
3. Set timelines for your market research survey
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? All of these questions can help you set timelines for your survey.
4. Determine who you’re sending your survey to and how much data you’ll need
Defining your target audience is an incredibly important market research step, and it also helps you figure out how much data you’ll actually need. Check out our sample size calculator to figure out what the right sample size is for your survey. Once you’ve done so, you can focus on who exactly you want to target, and how many surveys you want to send.
5. Use resources and tools to help you
SurveyMonkey can provide you with an immense amount of market research survey examples. Use them as templates to create your survey, or even as guidelines as you build one entirely from scratch.
6. Use the right tools to start collecting and analyze data
It’s time to send your survey out! Use SurveyMonkey’s Analyze tools to really understand your data as a whole. You’ll be able to find hidden patterns in your data, and spot insights you’ve never discovered before.
No matter how you plan to conduct market research, use online surveys to get quality data fast and easily.
Ready to get started? Make a market research survey today.