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5 reasons why you should invest in market research

By Robert Jones 08 Feb, 2019
Essential

A quick-fire guide to making the case for greater investment in market research

There’s so much you can learn from customer satisfaction surveys, exit-intent surveys, claims testing, ad testing, concept testing and by simply getting closer to your customers.

Market research is always changing but maybe isn’t talked about as an industry as much as other parts of marketing, such as SEO, paid media and even CRO.

There’s a whole new world of opportunity out there to get insights, quicker, faster, and cheaper than ever. Research should always be done to the highest quality, with standards respected – and I think, combined with its often-lengthy timescale, this scares people off. But it shouldn’t. You wouldn’t produce a blog post without typo checking it and you wouldn’t write an ad for Google Ads without making sure the message is relevant to the audience you’re targeting. Market research is no different.

It’s easier than you may think

Firstly, conducting research is easier than you think. Just like with SEO, paid search, and content marketing, there’s a wealth of information out there and hundreds of high-quality training courses that can help you with anything from writing questionnaires to selecting the right respondents and interpreting the data. Marketers work with data a lot and especially B2B marketers who may produce a lot of insight reports into the industry. Smart Insights spends a lot of time surveying our members to produce useful reports that help us all to understand the industry.

Smart Insights produces objective, non-leading questions, survey our members and incentivize fairly and then produce a visual report that helps our members. This is market research in a nutshell: good questions, finding relevant participants, interpreting the data, and sharing the insight with relevant people.

It’s also cheaper, quicker and faster than you might think

The industry hasn’t slowed down. Companies of all sizes have worked tirelessly to make research faster and cheaper.

Zappi, formally known as Zappistore, has also produced solutions with large market research companies to provide ad testing, concept testing, and all sorts of other useful research but as an all-in-one solution for less. Knowledge of statistical methods isn’t needed as they have the whole solution all set up for you. Research agencies are also innovating to automate research and reduce cost. YouGov has recently launched YouGov Collaborate that automates research services and gives you an expert researcher to help you along the way. A truly innovative service and exactly what the market needs.

From Udemy courses to loads of webinars by various market research agencies and the industry associations Market Research Society (MRS) and Esomar – there are lots of options when looking for online and offline training courses.

Recruitment is easier than ever

The biggest challenge and cost can be getting relevant respondents, but Survey Monkey Audience, Toluna, and Google Surveys have produced solutions which get you responses from just $0.10. One of the hardest parts of market research is recruiting relevant participants, as it’s integral to the validity of the research. Research panels can help to get you the panels you need as they have large pools of participants who want to take part in surveys and research. There are also participant recruiters who can help recruit for focus groups and depth interviews.

Here’s a handy process for conducting a survey online, which is compatible with the tools mentioned above:

  1. Screening questionnaire: These are the questions that help you get the respondents you need. It’s important to make sure your requirement isn’t obvious so you get genuine respondents who are relevant.
  2. Write survey: Start by writing your survey in a Word Document. This makes it easier to tweak between stakeholders and then you can copy and paste directly into your survey platform of choice.
  3. Recruitment respondents: You can do this via email if you have your own database, social media, panels or using a service like Google Surveys or SurveyMonkey Audience.
  4. Analyze: Read through your data, create and review charts – create a story and summarize your insights.
  5. Influence: Make decisions based on your research.

People are increasingly building their own research panels, especially if they conduct research often. But if you need niche audiences or want to tap into pools of large databases of real people who actively take part in research there are panels and participant recruiters that can help you.

It helps confirm a plan and reduces risk

Risk is a critical factor for businesses – reducing risk helps stabilize the business, encourages investment, and provides stability for employees. By conducting research with customers and employees you can make better, more informed decisions and react to how customers and employees feel. You can assess the risk of a change and an investment.

Let’s also take employee surveys and employee satisfaction as an example. Recruitment costs are high – replacing staff isn’t cheap and employees surveys can help you to make sure you’re supporting staff and they have what they need to do their job. The changes you can make based on this insight mean staff will be less likely to leave your business, increasing morale and reducing cost. Ideas for reducing risk include:

  • Testing messaging and advertising before launch
  • Testing changes to products and services before they are made
  • Testing new concepts before proceeding
  • Testing pricing if you’re struggling to increase sales

As a result, your marketing will be more targeted and your customers will be happier as their needs are met.

It helps you understand your customers

It’s time to get close to your customers. This isn’t just the latest marketing industry buzzword or phrase, it’s an obsession with getting close to customers to make informed decisions. Not all customers can be pleased all of the time but the closer you get the more understanding you will have of their experiences. For example, are customers genuinely happy with the online ordering process and is customer support resolving complaints?

There is only one way to find out what customers are thinking – ask them! There are quirky ways of getting close to your customers, such as focus groups that can involve testing activities and exercises. Walking with a customer while they browse your shop, conducting user testing or holding a customer workshop are all ways of getting your customers involved. You could also have a mini customer ambassador panel comprised of customers who use your products or services regularly and can give feedback in regular one-on-one meetings.

Understanding your customers helps you plan for the future, give customers what they need, and find issues you never knew existed. The best thing – customers want to talk to you more than ever!

By Robert Jones

Robert Jones is a specialist in Insight, UX Research, Digital and Content Marketing. He has a Psychology Masters of Research, has built research panels and worked in insight roles for Vision Critical, ASDA and WhatUsersDo. He also managed all of Smart Insights member resources and published several guides such as "How to conduct Persona Research" as well as contributing over 100 blog posts to the Smart Insights blog. You can connect with Robert on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter

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