Market research is so important that it can mean the difference between success and disaster for a business.
Today’s market, especially with the added challenges of COVID-19, is more volatile than ever. What may have been a “tried and true” method that worked five years ago probably isn’t seeing the same success today.
In addition to analyzing past and current trends, market researchers face the difficult task of finding ways to improve, use forecasts to predict how the market is going to shift, and determine what a business can do to stay one step ahead of the changes.
Some business owners hire professional market researchers to conduct this deep-level analysis. But for small operations, that option isn’t always in the budget.
We’ll break down our top tips to help you improve market research for your business, whether you’re conducting the research yourself in-house or outsourcing it to a third-party professional.
11 Ways to Improve Market Research Skills and Methods for Your Business
Businesses rely on a variety of market research methods. The most common types of market research are surveys, customer observations, focus groups, and interviews, but that’s not an all-inclusive list.
Market research can also include studying website traffic, social media interactions, studies published within a particular industry, field trials, and other means of collecting and analyzing information.
Here are some ways to improve market research:
1. Identify New Opportunities and Needs
One thing is certain about the market – it’s always changing. This state of constant evolution means a market researcher needs to use their analytical skills to study:
- Current trends
- Market size
- Market shares
- Trend forecasts
- Industry suppliers
- Geographic distribution
- Key competitors
- Market gaps, needs, and demands
Collecting this information and pinpointing potential areas of improvement is a critical first step in understanding the existing market and finding opportunities for business strategies, advertising, and products.
2. Understand Your Customers
In order to accurately target the customers in your market niche, you need to know who your customers are. This type of research can be conducted through focus groups, questionnaires, surveys, interviews, and analytical data collected from online interactions with your brand.
It’s important to create a customer profile that not only identifies demographics such as age, income, and interests, but also identifies needs that aren’t being met and how your audience may have changed over time.
3. Conduct Brand Research
There’s a surprising disconnect between how most companies perceive their brand and how their customers perceive it. Even the colors you choose can impact brand recognition by as much as 80%, which means seemingly minor details likely have a bigger impact than business owners realize.
This is where thorough brand research can help businesses improve their overall branding and shed light on:
- How familiar customers are with a brand
- The memorability of a logo and company name
- How customers view a brand in comparison to competitors
- What kind of reputation customers and potential customers think a brand has
- Overall brand perception and awareness in the marketplace
- How customers feel about a brand’s website, social media presence, ads, content, etc.
4. Collect and Analyze Data
Collecting data is a major part of the process, but even more important is being able to analyze that data and determine trends and changes that are currently or may soon impact your business.
Data collection and analysis needs to be a continuous process happening at every phase. Even if you did diligent research prior to launching your latest product, you then need to follow up after the launch and continue to gather customer feedback and market data.
Also, strive to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns with analysis that will drive future campaigns.
5. Don’t Make Assumptions
One of the most dangerous pitfalls a market researcher can fall into is allowing assumptions to enter the equation. It’s easy to notice patterns and make automatic assumptions without diving deeper to explore why certain trends are happening.
That’s a recipe for disaster. Decisions should be made based on the numbers, studies, feedback, and trends – not unverified assumptions.
6. Apply Personalized Problem-Solving Techniques per Project
Every project should be handled individually. There is no blanket, one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to problem solving for different aspects of the market.
If you’re sending out surveys as the primary means of collecting data for your market research, take the time to consider your goal each time. Don’t create an all-in-one survey and send it out to everybody.
Instead, tailor your questions and send them to targeted people. Customers participating in your brand awareness survey should not be getting a carbon copy of your customer satisfaction survey, nor should both groups be receiving one survey that covers questions from both topics.
Taking an individualized problem-solving approach on a project-by-project basis will improve the accuracy of your market research.
7. Improve Communication Skills
In order to gather the most useful data, participants need to have a clear understanding of the questions they’re being asked.
Verbal and written communication skills need to be strong in order to clearly and accurately convey information and create well-documented reports.
8. Gather Product Feature Insights
Whether you’re launching a new product or making updates to an existing one, product feature research should be a part of your overall market research – ideally before you commit to the expenses of large-scale production costs and advertising.
Consumer feedback on concepts and, when possible, prototypes can reveal design flaws, packaging issues, and other problems that will save you a lot of time and money if you can address these issues before the official launch.
Qualitative research such as focus groups, interviews, and open-ended survey questions is best to gather insights you may not have expected from your beta testers.
9. Be Transparent
Market research usually involves interacting with participants in some capacity, whether that’s in-person interviews, virtual focus groups, telephone surveys, digital questionnaires, etc.
Participants need to have a clear understanding of exactly how you intend to use their information. Be open and honest upfront. Failing to do so can have serious repercussions later and may skew your data if participants are uneasy about giving their true opinions.
10. Incentivize Participants
When you’re looking for ways to improve market research, consider what’s motivating the respondents who are providing you with data. Are they being compensated with discounts or prize drawings? Will they be allowed to test a new product prototype?
Remember that just as your time is valuable, so is the time of the people providing you with data. Consider your audience and the best ways you could incentivize them for maximum participation. Incentives designed for B2C surveys are probably not going to be as effective for B2B, and vice versa.
11. Keep Your Surveys, Questionnaires, and Interviews Short and Simple
We already mentioned the importance of communication when it comes to improving market research. In addition to clearly communicating your needs and expectations, make sure you’re keeping the process simple.
Questions should not be complicated and confusing, and your survey shouldn’t take too long to complete. Studies have shown that the response rate drops by 15% if a survey takes more than 5 minutes to finish, with a 40% drop rate past 10 minutes.
Market research is important, but if you need to gather a lot of data, try to break it up into smaller, more manageable sessions so the participants helping you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Improve the Validity of Market Research for Business Success
Market research goes much deeper than simply sending out a survey and generating a report of the responses.
When done in a thorough and meticulous manner, market research can (and should) bring in a ton of data that needs to be analyzed and compiled into written and visual reports capable of showing trends, demographics, and opportunities.
It’s an important part of the business process, and it starts with asking the right questions. Gathering a lot of data is good if it’s the right data. Otherwise, you’re not helping your business make the best strategic decisions for a successful future.
Ready to create your market research survey and start collecting the data you need? Sign up for free.
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