How to Do Market Research (+ Gain Insights to Beat the Competition)
Why bother with market research for your business?
People have ideas all the time.
You may have had one last night in the shower, and you know that it is a billion-dollar idea that you need to build upon right now before someone steals it from you.
It is always exciting when you think of a new product, and spending hours on market research is the last thing on your mind.
You would rather spend your time creating strategies to build and launch your product.
But without proper market research, your product will be doomed even before you start. One of the main differences between successful and would-be entrepreneurs is failing to conduct appropriate market research.
Market research is not an add-on to your business; it is a necessity. It is the backbone of any powerful business strategy.
In this blog, I’ll explain the basic concepts of market research and why it is essential for your business. I’ll also tell you how to do market research and share resources to help you start your marketing research.
What is Market Research?
In simple terms, market research is all about understanding whether or not your idea for a product or service has a future.
With market research, you gain insights into your target audience and understand the motivation behind why they are interested in a particular offer.
Whether you are launching a new product or service or rebranding your business, analyzing risks is critical. Market research helps you reduce the risk involved with any decision.
Analyzing the market helps you develop a revenue forecast to see whether your investment will be justified and how much profit you would earn.
Market research is not just done before you launch a product or service. Successful businesses keep up with their market and continuously optimize their marketing strategy according to their insights.
In the last decade, the global market research industry has gone from $33.15 billion in 2009 to around $73.38 billion in 2019.
This shows how much businesses invest in market research to understand the current market trends accurately.
Market research helps you make an informed decision based on data and statistics instead of feeling and intuition.
How 3D TV failed due to the negligence of market research
Launching a product without market research is a recipe for disaster.
After the 3D movie ‘Avatar’ hit its second billion, companies like LG and Sony decided to strike when the iron was hot. They released 3D televisions backing on how successful the movie was, hoping they would gain the same traction and profit as the 3D movie.
3D TV failed spectacularly because what they didn’t consider was that people didn’t want to watch all their content in 3D.
With 3D TV, there was a lot of sales hype at the beginning, but when the product launched, it didn’t make much in terms of actual sales.
3D television required glasses and caused headaches, nausea, and neck strain.
After the market didn’t react as per their assumptions, 3D TV manufacturing ceased. 3D TV is considered one of the biggest market research failures of all time.
In this scenario, businesses downright neglected to conduct market research. But there are also instances where companies did do their research thoroughly, but their research was done in isolation.
Why Coca-Cola's ‘New Coke' Flopped
When Coca-Cola tested the market for its ‘New Coke,’ they received a hugely positive response. New Coke was a sweeter version of the original, and the results of the comparison were extremely favorable to the New Coke.
In fact, the taste tests showed that people favored the New Coke over both the original Coke and Pepsi.
The result? The product didn’t just fail, it was one of the biggest marketing debacles in history.
But if everything was perfect, why did the market crash when Coca-Cola launched their New Coke?
While consumers favored the New Coke's taste and flavor, what they did not know was that they would eventually have to choose between the original Coke and the New Coke.
Coca-cola didn't factor in people's enormous emotional connection with their original Coke when they launched a new product to replace it.
Though this was a colossal blunder, this fiasco increased their brand loyalty because people started asking for “their Coke.”
And till date, Coca-cola remains the best-selling soda on the planet.
But here is the thing.
These brands have the luxury to take such risks once in a while. For smaller businesses, such blunders can be fatal.
Why is Market Research Important for Business?
Market research is vital for businesses to realize whether or not the goals they set can be accomplished. Accurate statistics allows businesses to make the right business decisions that will maximize their profit.
Without research, businesses don't have specific directions to follow and hence, they proceed on intuition and assumptions.
There are many ways in which market research keeps businesses on track.
1. Understand your target audience.
People who are most likely to be interested in your product or service will fit into some typical demographic. Customer research provides answers to variables like age, gender, location, education, employment, and even income level.
Based on factual data and statistics, you can construct a finite build of your ideal customer and determine what triggers them.
Market research helps you identify how customers and prospects might view your business. You can recognize your customers' wants and needs and get to know why they chose your product or service over your competitors.
2. Understand your competitors.
Market research not only helps you keep a tab on your competitors, but also gives you knowledge about how you can stand out, be different, and rise above them.
Understanding their ups and downs will help you create a better strategy to succeed in your business. Analyzing their failures will tell you what pitfalls you should avoid.
A thorough understanding of your competitors will ensure you are always one step ahead in the game.
3. Keep up with market trends.
If you do not stay relevant, surviving will be a challenge.
Nokia was once the world's top mobile phone producer, but it fell because it failed to understand the change in market trends.
You need to have thorough knowledge about where your industry is heading in the future and create strategies to ensure you are on the same path.
4. Determine the viability of a new product or service.
Before you launch anything, obtaining an objective opinion is a necessity. Basing your products on “our-customers-will-love-it” theories never work.
Testing the market before launching a product helps you determine the feasibility of the product.
Not every product can work for every person.
Effective market research can help you narrow down on your target audience and realize how much potential your product holds.
This will help you analyze how customers will connect with your product; what message creates the most impact; and how much value it holds in the real world.
5. Identify business challenges.
Market research helps you identify areas of difficulty in your business.
You can identify problems before they blow out of proportion and predict obstacles that can become an inconvenience for your business.
When you face an issue, more often than not, it has a ripple effect and affects more than just one aspect of your business.
If you do encounter an issue, market research helps ascertain the source of the problem and develop a strategy to overcome it.
6. Identify new opportunities.
Market research will help you identify areas your competitors have not addressed.
Consumers may not voice their opinion when they are satisfied with something, but they will charge without abandon when they are not happy with something.
With market research, you will be able to discover what your competitors are lacking in and target those pain points.
7. Significantly minimize risk and loss.
The data you acquire from market research may not be 100% accurate at all times, but you can significantly minimize risk and loss.
With market research, you can take calculated risks that your enterprise needs to grow. Your promotional campaigns will have a higher rate of success.
Types of Market Research: Primary versus Secondary Market Research
In terms of how you can collect research data, you can categorize market research into two types: primary and secondary.
Primary Market Research
Primary Market research is when you gather information directly from the source, i.e., your prospects and customers.
In this method, you carry out your own personal research and get realistic and personalized results about what will work for you.
You can narrow down your exact target audience and get real-time feedback about what exactly they're looking for.
This information you collect is for you alone and is not shared unless you decide otherwise. This offers your business an “information advantage” as your competitors will not be able to get hold of this inside information.
Primary market research is more time-consuming than secondary market research because you need to develop your own research plan and work on executing it.
This research technique may not be as cost-effective, but it always saves you money in the long run.
The process of collecting information with primary market research can be broken down into two methods.
- Quantitative Data Collection
- Qualitative Data Collection
Quantitative Market Research.
Quantitative market research focuses on the collection of numerical data. This technique offers concrete data that will help you quantify a research problem.
You can collect data in an organized manner using surveys, polls, or questionnaires.
The results obtained from quantitative research can be analyzed mathematically and can curate vital statistics to aid your business.
It is easy to draw conclusions from data collected by this method. You can implement this technique on a large market, and hence, the information obtained is more statistically valid.
There are various methods for obtaining quantitative data. Surveys are one of the most widely used quantitative methodologies in market research worldwide.
There are three main types of primary quantitative market research techniques.
Surveys are incredibly adept at providing data to analyze a large population. This research technique can offer a broad capability that is not provided by any other method.
The data collected via surveys is easy to analyze and interpret to make decisions.
If your survey includes checklists and rating scale type questions, it helps to quantify your audience’s behavior.
Always keep the questions of your survey to a bare minimum. The following statistical display by SurveyMonkey shows the average completion percentage by the number of questions.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you create your survey.
- Ensure your opening question is easy-to-answer.
- Only ask questions you need to be answered.
- Close-ended questions are easy for your audience to respond to.
- Your questions should be short, specific, and straightforward.
Surveys and questionnaires are not the same, no matter how much people use these terms interchangeably.
Questionnaires are more focused on collecting information rather than drawing a conclusion.
Questionnaires are done in isolation. You have your audience answer a predetermined set of questions.
You do not look at any kind of bigger picture, try to spot trends, or statistically analyze this data.
You can create questionnaires with the objective of conducting a survey, or you may use a series of standardized questions and other prompts with the purpose of gathering information.
You can conduct a market research interview on telephone, video-call, or even face-to-face to collect quantitative and qualitative data.
Quantitative interviews can also be called survey interviews because they have the same standardized survey question-answer format to collect data.
You can contact existing customers and potential customers with information collected by lead generation forms or website analytics.
Qualitative Market Research.
Qualitative market research doesn’t often include data that can be statistically analyzed.
This method of research focuses on understanding why people behave in a certain way. What motivates them to make a particular decision? How will they respond to a new product or service?
While qualitative questions are more close-ended where specific answers can be expected, qualitative questions are more open-ended and give people the space to state their opinions and feelings.
This research produces data that is much harder to analyze. Researchers are required to interpret the gathered information without any numbers and figures.
Among the traditional qualitative research methodologies used worldwide, 58% of respondents said they used focus groups to be their most used method.
After focus groups, the in-depth interviews have been stated to be the most dominant research technique.
There are three main types of primary qualitative market research techniques.
- Focus Groups
- In-depth Interviews.
1. Focus Groups.
Focus groups are organized sessions with around six to twelve people who share a common characteristic.
The main objective of conducting these sessions is to comprehend people’s opinions, perceptions, and beliefs about a particular service, product, or concept.
Focus groups can give you an in-depth understanding of how and why people respond to specific topics in a certain way.
Focus groups are not about merely reporting about a discussion; it is a market research technique that can give you powerful insights that reveal something you need.
How to select participants for a focus group?
The most crucial aspect of any focus group is the selection of participants. Randomly selecting participants for your focus group is simply foolish.
For example, if you are conducting a focus group for why people don’t use a vacuum cleaner, the discussion would yield much better results if you select homemakers who clean their own homes.
Clearly define, verify, and recruit people keeping your target audience for the focus group in mind.
2. In-depth interviews.
By conducting in-depth interviews, you can gather extensive information from the respondents.
You can create in-depth questionnaires for this research technique and discuss highly complex or sensitive topics.
While other primary market research methods can give you valuable insights, have you ever poured your heart out in an online survey?
With interviews, you can gain information that would be nearly impossible to attain otherwise.
- You can know how customers really use your product.
- What stops someone from making a purchase.
- What hidden emotions drive your target audience.
How an interview saved Febreze.
The marketing story of Febreze proves how powerful interviews can be.
Procter & Gamble launched Febreze with a strong marketing campaign.
Their message behind the campaign was that their product could eliminate the foulest stenches like smoky bars and the heavy odor caused by house pets and teenage boys.
The result? Their campaign failed drastically.
Their research showed that people often get desensitized to their surrounding smell due to constant exposure. The stench doesn’t bother them as much.
P&G then turned to interview their most devoted users to understand why exactly they used Febreze.
An interview with a woman in Scottsdale was what led to their breakthrough.
She said, “It's nice, you know? Spraying feels like a little mini-celebration when I’m done with a room.”
P&G realized people didn’t use Febreze for proper cleaning; they used it as a reward of sorts.
They had found their “Dopamine hook.”
They revamped their marketing strategy and positioned Febreze as a part of the cleaning routine, restaging it as a reward.
The result? Within two months, the sales of Febreze doubled.
P&G would never have come to this epiphany if not for their decision to conduct interviews.
This market research technique focuses on observing people’s behavior in a natural or planned setting.
As a researcher, you may observe your customers’ behavior from the sidelines, or you may be an active participant by conversing with people and then observe their reactions.
In a clinical setting, people’s behavior can be influenced by external stimuli. What people say doesn’t always align with what they do.
Qualitative research by observation allows you to see their true self.
But this method is very time consuming and doesn’t allow you any control over the setting or environment.
Secondary Market Research.
Secondary market research is the process of analyzing existing data and statistics that are already available for you to consume for free.
This research method involves gathering information from secondary sources.
Businesses have already collected and compiled information for you, and all you need to do is know how to access this information.
The internet is one of the most apparent sources to conduct your secondary market research, as there are many resources available online for free, as well as in exchange for money.
There are various other resources available for this research, like libraries, colleges, universities, government data, competitor’s data, trade publications, media sources, etc.
Businesses often gather as much information as they can from various sources and put them together to analyze market trends and compile their own reports with this information.
But though there are so many resources available, secondary market research is not always as easy as it may sound.
Limitations of Secondary Market Research.
- It is a time-consuming process. While a vast amount of information helps a lot, not everything you find will be applicable to your goals. It is often a time-consuming task to filter through all this data to find what you are looking for.
- It is not always credible. Finding reliable information for free is exceedingly challenging. It is your responsibility to evaluate whether the data is reliable or not.
- Nature of data. The data you find will not always be specific to your needs. It is pointless if you spend your time and effort and then find information that may not fulfill your requirements.
Not everyone knows how to acquire accurate data and statistics. And knowing how significant gaining this information is, it is even more critical to get this data right!
If you do not evaluate your market research data, it could lead to bad business decisions.
Here are a few things to look for to access the authenticity of data.
Factors you need to consider when you evaluate secondary research data.
- The research provider’s purpose. Many biased reports are published, so it favors them in some way. This data holds their personal interests at heart and may not be entirely accurate.
- The source. Who has published the information plays a significant role. You can always rely on government sources as compared to sources like private companies or websites. If the name is big, they will have a reputation to keep up. Hence, they are much more reliable than other sources.
- When the data was collected. You need to make sure that the information is relevant. Outdated information will do more harm than good, and using this information will only lead to trouble.
- How the information was collected. Methods of data collection can help you analyze the consumer’s mindset. This is especially important when looking at qualitative data, which gives you information about your audience’s beliefs, opinions, and feelings.
- What information was collected. If you have a specific type of information in mind, it will not do if the data you get includes a much broader aspect. For example, if you want to know which mobile company is most popular amongst millennials, it would not help if the data is about the most popular mobile company.
- Cross verify with other sources. If you find a report that says something specific and can’t find any information regarding the same anywhere else, it might be dangerous to trust that information blindly. Or if information regarding the same topic varies from source to source, you need to dig deeper to find the most accurate information. Always check if the data you have is consistent with other sources.
Three ways of accessing secondary market research data.
- Public sources.
- Commercial sources.
- Educational institutions.
1. Public sources.
Public sources are open sources that are available for everyone to access.
Most governments collect and publish information about markets, growth rates, consumer behavior, current trends, economic factors, and other entities. This data is usually available for free for you to access.
Google Public Data Explorer is an excellent source to access public-interest datasets.
It provides public data from several different international organizations including, but not limited to
- ICT Statistics Database
- U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- International Monetary Fund
- U.S. Census Bureau
2. Commercial sources.
Commercial sources are those that offer marketing data and consumer insights for a cost.
They usually include research and trade associations and operate across nearly every industry.
Directory of Associations, National Trade and Professional Associations Directory, Equifax, and Dun & Bradstreet are major commercial data sources in the market.
3. Educational institutions.
Business departments of educational institutions like colleges and universities conduct research on various industries. They are the most overlooked sources for market research.
Right from graduate student projects and theses to faculty-based projects, the research material available is very vast.
To use this data, you may have to subscribe to a specific journal or pay a subscription fee to access their newsletter or website.
How to Do Market Research for Maximum Actionable Insights?
While most businesses understand the significance of market research, they sometimes skip this because they simply don’t know where to look and what to look for.
Compiling data for the sake of market research is one thing, actually doing market research, which will lead to actionable insights, is a different story altogether.
Define Your Buyer Persona.
With business, there is no “one-size-fits-all.” You need to connect with your audience if you want them to take you seriously, and that will not happen if you aim to form a connection with everybody.
If you do not create a personal appeal, people will most likely mark you as spam and move on without giving you a second glance.
This is why you need to build your ideal customer profile.
But who is an ideal customer?
An ideal customer is someone who has their wants and needs met by what you have to offer.
You need to have a detailed description of those who are likely to be interested in your products and services.
What are their goals? What are their backgrounds? What challenges do they face? Do you know what interests them? How old are they? Do they have kids? What does their daily routine look like?
This might seem more specific than you expected, but creating customer profiles that answer such intricate details will help you create much more personalized appeals.
The characteristics you define is what will give way to your business’ buyer personas.
What is a Buyer Persona?
Based on the data and statistics you collect from your potential and existing customers, you can map out a semi-fictional character of your ideal customer. This semi-fictional character is called a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a generalized representation of your target customers.
Amongst other information, there are a few key characteristics you should specify your buyer persona.
- Their age
- Their gender
- Geographical location
- Their designation and job role
- Family size
- Annual income
- Major challenges they face
Here is an example of a buyer persona.
Why use a Buyer Persona?
When you create buyer personas for your business, it is much easier for marketers, sales representatives, and designers to optimize their content specific to their wants and needs.
Creating buyer personas can essentially help you get into your customer’s head and understand what makes them tick.
How many Buyer Personas should you create?
It’s very unusual for businesses to have only one category of target audience. If you have a business, chances are that your strategy would aim to target a range of people.
But how many buyer personas you create differs from business to business. Some businesses have as little as one or two personas or go as far as 15 to 20.
But creating too many personas will only lead to chaos.
I would suggest you create no more than four personas.
If you have more, chances are that your personas are very similar to each other. You can create three to four primary personas and categorize others under these primary personas in such cases.
If two personas seem similar to you, don’t hesitate to club them. If you do not have enough information on a persona, scrap it.
Your buyer personas are not set on stone. As you move on, add and remove personas with changing market trends.
Creating content as per your buyer personas will help you pitch the same product in different ways to your audience's categories.
Negative Buyer Personas.
Negative buyer personas are a representation of people you do not want to target. These personas are based on demographics and characteristics of people who are not your ideal customers.
While it is essential to know whom you want to target, it is equally important to know whom you should avoid.
You can create anti-buyer personas to be more accurate with your target audience.
If you know exactly what you do not want, you will stray away from messages that might appeal to the wrong audience.
This will save you money in the long run as you will not waste your resources to market to the wrong people. This helps increase your business’ efficiency and productivity.
How do buyer personas benefit a business?
According to NetProspex’s case study, their following results were observed after they implemented reinforced their buyer personas:
- 900% increase in the duration of visit.
- 46% increase in conversions.
- 111% increase in email open-rate.
- 100% increase in the number of pages visited.
- 171% increase in marketing-generated revenue.
Buyer personas help businesses identify and analyze their target audience’s behavior. You can use this real-time data to ensure your products and services consider your customers' desires.
Buyer personas benefit a business in a number of ways.
- Increase compatibility. Buyer personas bring your target audience to life in a memorable way that will help everyone in your business understand your users better. It will make sure everyone is on the same page and makes it easier to communicate and collaborate while creating strategies.
- Find the right platform. While researching for your buyer persona, you will understand which platform your target audience leans towards. This will help you focus your advertising and marketing strategies on these platforms to increase your reach.
- User-focused. Buyer personas will keep you from wasting your time and resources on products and services that would not interest your target audience. With a clear understanding of your buyer personas, your products and services will be focused on your customers and ensure high efficiency.
- Build product roadmaps. Buyer personas will help you identify what your customers want and use this to create a plan of action to ensure your product’s success.
- Product positioning. With your buyer personas, you will know how to market your product in a way that people will be inclined towards. You will know what campaign message will create the best connection with your audience.
Identify a Portion of That Persona to Engage
Now that you know what a buyer persona is, the next step is to create your buyer persona.
You must already have a rough idea about what you want in your target audience. With that as a guide, identify people whom you want to engage in your research.
This step involves researching your target audience to learn more about what characteristics make up your buyer persona.
How to Research Buyer Personas?
There are many ways of collecting information via primary and secondary market research.
Many businesses create surveys to study their customers’ inclinations.
But to create buyer personas, you need to get into people’s heads, and the most powerful market research technique is to conduct interviews.
You can interview existing customers, potential customers, and even third-party networks who are not in your existing pool of target audience but come close.
The interview should cover necessary demographic information to what triggers them to make purchasing decisions.
You need to dig as deep as you can and gather as much insight about them. The more you know, the stronger your buyer persona will be.
How to find participants for your buyer persona research?
- Existing Customers. These are the easiest people to target. You already have a point of contact, and they are familiar with your products. Interviewing them will help you notice patterns about the things that appeal to them and their challenges. Since they are already connected to your product, you may not need to offer any incentives to get feedback.
- Potential Customers. You typically must have acquired their contact information via lead generation forms or web analytics. These are people who may be interested in what you have to offer but haven’t taken the leap to purchase your products.
- Referrals. If you do not have an existing customer base or any contact information about your market audience, you need to work with your personal network. Reach out to your co-workers, social media contacts, even family members, and find people you can interview. LinkedIn is an excellent place to start if you are lost; type in keywords of your target audience into the search box and filter through your connections to see people you can contact.
- Third-party Networks. You can use platforms like Respondent, UserInterviews, UserTesting and PlaybookUX to find participants for your research.
But using these platforms does not give you a chance for one-on-one interaction. This may make it much more difficult for you to gather information to create your buyer personas.
How to get people to become interviewees?
- Offer Incentives. Of course, there’s always chocolate. And you may not even need to offer that for interviewing people who are already your customers. But while reaching out to people under other categories, you could provide simple gift cards. According to PeoplePulse, there is a 10 to 15% increase in response rate when offered incentives.
You can appeal directly to your social media network and get participants to approach you if your incentive is strong.
- Be honest about your purpose. Be clear at the very beginning that it is not a sales call. Tell them you are calling them because you want to get some information for your research. If you are honest from the beginning, they are more likely to trust you and open up about their lives, feelings, and opinions.
- Be flexible. Work according to their schedule and make it easy for them to say yes. Allow them to give you a time, and make sure you send them a reminder before your call to ensure you don't catch them off guard.
Questions you can ask participants during the interview.
Telephonic or face-to-face interviews can be a little daunting if you don’t know where to start.
This is just a sample list for inspiration to help you get started. You can optimize the questions according to your target audience (in fact, you definitely should.)
Describe your Personal Demographics.
- Marital status.
- What are your interests and hobbies?
- What is your educational background? Where did you complete your education?
- What is your career path? How did you end up where you are today?
- Which industry or industries does your company serve?
- What is the size of your company (revenue, employees)?
- What are the most common challenges in your industry?
- What are the most common objections to your product or service?
- What is your job role? And your job title?
- How many years of experience do you have?
- Whom do they report to? Who reports to them?
- How is your job measured?
- Describe a typical working day.
- Which specialized skills or tools are required to do your job?
- What frustrates you the most about your job?
- What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Goals & Challenges
- What are your biggest challenges?
- What are you responsible for?
- What does it mean to be successful in your role?
- What are your personal goals? Career goals?
- How do you prioritize them?
- Who do you consult with and trust for advice and information?
- What is the most important thing you look for when you buy a product?
- What are your biggest complaints about our product or service?
- What must happen for you to overcome these complaints?
- How do you learn about new information for your job?
- What publications, blogs, or social networks are you interested in?
- How did you find out about our company?
To gain an in-depth insight, the followup question of most of the above questions should be “why?”
Ask open-ended questions and encourage them to talk. The more they talk, the more you’ll understand what motivates them to do something.
How to create your Buyer Persona?
After you have collected all raw data about your target audience, it is time to analyze this information and look for patterns and commonalities.
Here is an example of a B2C buyer persona.
From this buyer persona, you can understand that Rachael has a busy life, and doesn’t spend excessively.
The most effective way to pitch your products to her would be to highlight how easy it would make her life. She would appreciate quick and easy solutions.
Creating in-depth personas with intricate details will help you better visualize your target audience and develop messages that they can instantly connect with.
After you are done with your research, it is time to map out your buyer personas and create a layout.
If you are not sure where to start, I’ve compiled examples, tips, and templates you can use as a guide to creating your buyer persona from scratch.
1. Create 2-4 primary buyer personas.
While you may create as many personas as your business needs, it is not advisable to create more than four.
You may, of course, create more, but you can categorize those personas under the primary personas you’ve created.
2. Highlight brands or products your audience already uses in your industry.
If your customer favors Nike or only uses Apple products, it speaks about your audience’s preferences. You will understand what they value, and this secondary information will help you deduce a lot about your customers.
3. Create a customer journey map
Creating a customer journey map will help you when you try to define your primary buyer personas.
You can categorize your buyer personas by how your audience uses your product or service.
4. Include icons and illustrations.
Visuals like icons and illustrations help add context to your content. You can use them to make complex ideas more straightforward to understand and remember.
5. Have a consistent layout.
A consistent layout for all your personas will help you spot differences better.
You can easily compare information instead of trying to locate things blindly just because your designer was overzealous.
Additionally, you can also highlight fundamental differences between your personas to make your work easier.
7. Create an infographic of your persona guide.
Creating a buyer persona means including as many essential insights as possible, and what better way to illustrate your buyer persona guide other than an infographic?
Infographics are an exciting and powerful way to display information.
8. Include an introduction paragraph.
This paragraph will serve the purpose of giving your persona a backstory. Talk about what makes them tick, or it could be a simple narrative that is purely biographical.
9. Use sliding scales to understand your persona better.
You can’t define everyone in extremes; it is never always this or that. Using sliding scales and or other similar visual aids will help you understand your buyer persona better.
Willian is more of an introvert than an extrovert, but labeling him solely as an introvert would not do him justice.
10. Give your personas a real name.
As you would have noticed in the above examples, all the buyer personas have names. This makes them memorable and motivates you to think of them as an actual person rather than research metrics.
This works wonders when working on a campaign, for all you have to think about is to convince “Mike” or “William.”
This keeps your target audience in center focus every time you develop an idea.
11. Use a few keywords that summarize your persona effectively.
You can summarize your buyer persona with a few keywords that practically define them.
Keywords are powerful, and if you happen to use these images as posters around your desk or office, they will cement your target audience's characteristics in your mind.
12. Don’t use celebrity images as your persona.
When you think of Will Smith, what comes to mind?
- His determination and dedication.
- His humble nature even after achieving great heights.
- How he is unapologetically himself.
If you were to use Will Smith's face for your buyer persona, it would be challenging to stop his characteristics from overshadowing your target audience.
Using images of people you don’t know will help you start afresh.
Now that you know the features that would help make your buyer persona, here are a couple of tools to help you design your persona.
Tools to create your buyer personas.
You can use templates offered by Xtensio to create your buyer personas. The software is very user-friendly and also allows you to customize your layout as per your requirements.
Hubspot’s buyer persona tool walks you step-by-step to create your persona. One downside to using Hubspot is you can not add your own persona image and have to choose from a handful of character images offered.
If there are elements you want to add that are not included by default, you can add them using the “Add new section” button.
Engage Your Market Research Participant
One of the biggest challenges of conducting primary market research is finding people willing to participate in your study.
Finding participants seems like an exceedingly tedious task, which doesn’t have to be the case. There are various ways you can recruit people for your market research.
Channels you can use to recruit interviewees.
With crowdsourcing, you can engage a large volume of people in your market research. It is an excellent alternative to traditional human subject pools.
2. Broadcast email.
Broadcast emails are sent to a large group of people at once. You can take advantage of your email list.
Keep note of people who have participated in your research so you can get in touch with them in the future in a similar scenario.
If you don’t have your own email list, narrow down on your interest group and approach organizations that focus on the same demographic.
Some organizations may be open to sharing their database for a price or some other inducements.
If not, at the very least, you could convince them to share an email containing your market research survey with their audience.
3. Snowball Sampling.
The best way to recruit more participants is to take advantage of your current participants. Word of mouth is one of the most potent tools of marketing.
Offer referral incentives to your current participants, and they will help recruit new people. This is called snowball sampling or chain-referral sampling.
4. Traditional and Internet Media.
You can use press releases and related print or TV/radio reports to recruit participants for your research.
If your research requires a specific pool of people, this may work really well. It does take a while to get a good volume of participants, and it may cost significantly more than other means of recruiting participants.
Another affordable and more effective alternative is to use internet media. You can research web portals and online forums that target your ideal market.
5. Search Engine Marketing (for example Google Adwords).
With online search engine ads, you can reach millions of people looking for information regarding your targeted keyword.
Depending on how strong your incentive is, you can recruit participants quickly using this method.
6. Social Media.
This is one of the best ways to source participants for your research. You can create pages or launch ads to recruit participants.
One of the best parts about using social media is that you can access people’s profiles and find extensive information about them to see if they are the right match for your research.
You can source on LinkedIn by searching for people who fit your criteria and use inMail and 2nd-degree intros to contact them.
7. Online Panels.
An online research panel is a group of selected individuals who have agreed to complete surveys via the Internet.
With online panels, it is effortless to recruit participants, and additionally, it is cost-effective.
One drawback of using these online portals is that you can’t have immediate contact with your participants as most online panels don’t share their audience’s contact details.
Using Craigslist may not be the best method, but you can still use it to recruit participants for low prices.
You can post an ad on Craigslist for free, but many marketers have stopped using this platform for the validity of the information provided is always in question.
Prepare Your Research Questions for Maximum Actionable Learnings
Even after you find the right participants, the most crucial part of the research is the questionnaire.
You can’t just note down questions from the top of your head. You need to ensure that each question you’ve included will help you progress with your research.
But how can you make sure all your questions are important? I’ll tell you how.
How to prepare survey research questions
1. Create a frame.
Before you write a single question, I need you to note down three things.
- The objective of your research.
- What is your desired outcome?
- Characteristics of your target audience.
This is the fundamental part of your research and will help you ground your questions. Cross-referencing your questions with these points will ensure you don’t sway away from the main objective.
2. Brainstorm Questions
You already have a list of questions you are dying to ask your customers, and it would be so convenient to include anything and everything just so you don’t miss out.
But that’s not the way to go. In this step, you write down all questions you have in mind.
Write down the silliest of questions because after you create momentum, you will find that your questions have much more depth.
But one crucial thing is to think about the questions “you already know” answers to.
How do you know the answer? Do you have any research to back your answer, or is it just your gut feeling?
Be wary of these traps where your mind says not to include a question because you already know the answer.
Learn to separate what you know and what you believe to be true.
3. Filter and find the best questions.
After you are done with brainstorming questions, it is time to review it against the frame you created in the first step.
Cross-check if your questions fulfill your objective, discard the questions that don’t, and club questions whenever necessary.
Only pick the best, juiciest questions that will give the most insights. Remember, you need actionable feedback.
Below is the result of a study conducted by Survey Monkey to understand how much time respondents spend on a survey.
It is recommended that your survey should not include more than 12 questions.
You need to hold the respondent’s attention, and for that, the survey should not take more than 5 minutes to complete.
But of course, if the incentive you offer is good enough, you can make the survey longer.
Types of Research Questions
1. Open-ended research questions.
Open-ended questions require the respondent to type in their answer into a comment box. These questions call for more depth and lengthier responses.
While open-ended questions allow the respondents the freedom and space to state their opinions, it is recommended that you don’t include many of these questions.
You can see an example of an open-ended survey question below:
2. Multiple choice research questions.
They are the most popular type of survey questions. They are easy for your participants to answer, and you receive clean data for analysis.
Below is an example of a multiple-choice research question with a multiple-select answer option:
3. Ranking research questions.
These questions help you understand your respondent’s preferences. Keep in mind that this type of question takes longer to answer, so don’t include too many of them.
For instance, in the question below, respondents need to be familiar with each feature and select a corresponding number to rank the features as per their preference.
4. Rating scale research questions.
These questions are used to get responses on a continuous scale to understand how your audience feels about something.
Here’s how a rating scale question can look:
5. Net promoter score research questions.
This is a type of rating scale question where the question has an answer that depicts a range (for example, 1 to 10, or 1 to 100.)
Always remember to give context to these questions. The numbers on the scale would not make any sense if you don’t explain the value of the numbers.
Like in the above example, 0 is ‘very unlikely,’ and 10 corresponds to ‘very likely.’
6. Likert scale research questions.
These are very popular questions for surveys. They help you understand exactly how your customer feels about something.
Below is a typical example of a Likert scale question:
7. Semantic differential scale research question
This is a type of Likert scale question which is extremely effective in quantifying how your audience feels about a particular brand, product, service, or organization.
8. Stapel scale research questions.
This type of rating scale question has an even number range with no neutral point.
For example, the question below has a range of +2 to -2, and your respondent’s answer accurately describes whether they are in agreement or disagreement with something.
9. Constant sum research questions.
In this type of question, the respondent can rate a particular entity, and you can compare the other entities using one as a reference.
This is useful for devising ratio data of different attributes.
10. Matrix table research questions.
Matrix table questions are presented in a grid and are usually easy to interpret for your respondents. This is because the answer options and scales remain consistent across all entities.
This is also highly efficient as you can make use of one question to gather significant data.
11. Image choice research questions.
These questions have images as your answer options. They dramatically increase response rates and also make your survey visually appealing.
I would recommend using this question type in between as they give your respondent a break from reading.
12. Dropdown research questions.
You can use dropdown questions when you have a long list of brief answer options. For example, if you want the respondent to pick their home town or their birth year.
Use them lightly as most people like to refer to the answer options as context when they read a question.
13. Click Map research questions.
If you want direct feedback on a product image or any other visual, this is the best approach.
Click Map question allows the user to click one spot on the image.
For example, the following is a product packaging image. You could ask the survey taker to click on the part of the packaging that appeals the most to them.
14. File Upload research questions.
In case you need supporting documents or images, you can use file upload questions.
Though, it is not recommended as it is tedious for the respondent, you can collect whatever file you require as a PNG, PDF, or Doc file.
Survey Pre-Launch Checklist.
Here is a checklist of things you need to take note of before you launch your survey.
- Ensure that your survey is compatible with all devices.
- Preview and test your survey.
- Check how long the survey takes to complete. The recommended time to finish a survey is 5 minutes.
- Check the structural components of your survey like the navigation buttons, page, and titles, etc.
- Make sure the answer format is in harmony with the question type. If the question requires multiple option selection, ensure the format allows the user to select all options that apply.
- Check the reporting value format. If you have customized your reporting value, check if the format for birth date, age, email address, etc. is set correctly.
- If you’re unsure how you can analyze the results, do a trial run, and familiarize yourself with how the results show up. Also, don’t forget to delete your test responses before you launch the survey.
- Make sure there are no grammatical or spelling errors.
- Ask someone else to cross-check the survey. A second pair of eyes might spot something you missed.
Reminder Emails are an excellent strategy to boost your response rates.
But when do you send your first reminder email? The second? The third? When do you stop?
Below given table shows how the response rate drops exponentially after the first reminder email.
It is recommended that you send reminders only if necessary and don’t send more than four reminders.
After you have closed the survey, send an email to all the respondents to thank them for participating in the survey.
Don’t forget to include the top two or three things you have found from the research and how you plan to act on them.
People like to know that their contribution created an impact and that the time they took to respond was worthwhile.
This closes the loop and sets you up with the respondents for the next time you decide to conduct a survey.
Analyze Your Findings and Identify Patterns
You finally have everything you need for your research; your results are in, and all you have to do is analyze everything you’ve found.
This next step is called Data Analysis. In this step, you bring together all the data you’ve collected, identify patterns, and draw conclusions.
You need to keep in mind a few things before you start analyzing your market research data.
- Don’t start analyzing the results before all your responses come in, and the survey is closed.
- Filter the results. There would be many low-quality responses that won’t help your research. These could be
- Incomplete survey responses.
- Responses from people who are not your target audience.
- People who completed the survey with supersonic speed. Yeah, they didn’t really read your questions.
- Unrealistic answers. For example, family size is 4700. Well, really?
Now that you have your data, what are you going to do about it? Read through hundreds of survey responses and interview notes?
The amount of data you receive can be quite overwhelming. To ensure your head doesn’t go spinning while analyzing this data, it is essential to use data organization and data reduction techniques.
These methods will be beneficial to compile and assemble data to interpret and analyze your findings.
You can segment your results to gain in-depth insights. Below are a few samples of segments you can utilize.
Types of Market Segmentation.
- Demographic Segmentation, like age, gender, and marital status.
- Geographic Segmentation, like country, state, and regions.
- Psychographic Segmentation, like personality traits, beliefs, values, lifestyle, opinions, and interests of consumers.
- Behavioral Segmentation, like decision-making patterns such as consumption, purchase, lifestyle, and usage.
- Firmographic Segmentation, like company size and the number of employees.
However, not all platforms may offer such services, and additionally, you may have secondary research data to combine with your survey responses.
Here is a list of data analysis software programs that you can use to integrate your market research data, analyze your findings, and identify patterns.
Quantitative Data Analysis Software
Quantitative Data Analysis focuses on statistical, mathematical, and numerical analysis of data you have collected with market research.
Here is a list of quantitative analysis software programs.
SPSS stands for Statistical Package for Social Sciences. It is the most popular quantitative analysis tool used for editing, analyzing, and presenting numerical data.
With SPSS, you can perform analysis, interpret the results, and make sound statistical decisions.
SPSS is well-suited for all formats used for structured data analysis like Excel, plain text files, and relational (SQL) databases.
STATA is a powerful and flexible general-purpose statistical software package.
It is an interactive data analysis program that runs on a variety of platforms. It is easy to analyze, manage, and produce graphical visualizations of data.
You can use STATA for both simple and complex statistical analyses.
STATA offers several purchase options to fit your budget.
SAS is an acronym for Statistical Analysis System.
With the Market Research Application (MRA) of this software program, you are provided with advanced graphical and statistical data evaluation techniques.
R is a free software to download and use, especially for graphical and statistical computing.
If you are familiar with statistics and computing, you can add your own programs to it.
While all these tools can help you analyze numerical data and create statistics, they may not be of much help while trying to identify patterns in open-ended survey responses and interview comments.
The aforementioned tools are excellent for quantifiable data, but if you want to break down qualitative data, I have a list of tools to make your life easier.
Please note that most of these tools analyze both qualitative and quantitative market research data.
Qualitative Data Analysis Software.
NVivo is, by far, the largest player in the qualitative software field.
You can analyze the unstructured text, video, audio, and image data, including interviews, open-ended survey answers, focus groups, social media, and journal articles.
You can import text, audio, video, emails, spreadsheets, images, online surveys, web content, and social media from various sources and create a centralized base to conduct in-depth analysis.
Like NVivo, you can import data from interviews, focus groups, surveys, videos, and even social media from various sources into a simple, intuitive interface.
After you import your data, you can organize your data into different categories. You can even mark specific data and leave notes, and color-code your data for better organization.
Quirkos is designed to help researchers sort, manage, and comprehend large amounts of data. You can code or tag specific sections of data and even compare themes across various sources.
Quirkos does not offer as many extensive features as NVivo; its main focus is to provide simple tools for exploring qualitative data that are flexible and easier to use.
It has an extremely straightforward interface so you can focus on your work and not how to do it.
One of Quirkos’ best features is its text analyzer. This tool helps you find common keywords and phrases within various text documents.
One major drawback is Quirkos does not have support for integrated multimedia and quantitative analysis.
You can choose between a subscription service or a one-off license fee. Additionally, Quirkos offers a free trial of the full version.
With Dedoose, you organize research data in a broad range of formats, including qualitative data such as text, audio, images, or video, and quantitative data such as spreadsheets, surveys, test scores, ratings, or demographics.
It is easy to collaborate as it is a web-based software.
You can also import project data from other software like NVivo, Atlas.ti, MaxQDA, Saturate, HyperResearch, Quirkos, and others.
Dedoose pricing starts from $14.95 Per Active Month for an individual. They also offer plans for small and large groups and have a special package for students.
Regardless of the group size, Dedoose offers the first-month cycle of use is free for all users.
Atlas.ti is a web-based qualitative data analysis software program that allows you to capture perspectives & insights into primary or secondary research.
It is a powerful tool for efficient and effective work on your research data. You can organize data, add information, and create comments, codes, annotations, categories, and shows relationships among all of them.
Atlas.ti is an excellent tool if you want to analyze large bodies of textual, graphical, audio, and video data.
With Atlas.ti, you can import source materials as DOCX., CSV, PDF, TXT, RTF, JPEG, GIF, and other audio/video formats.
This software program is easy to manage and gives you a lot of freedom to name categories according to your preferences.
Qualtrics is an easy-to-use web-based software program that allows users to build surveys, analyze and interpret responses, and generate reports.
You do not require any coding knowledge. Their drag-and-drop interface is extremely simple and straightforward.
From setting up your project, managing it, finding respondents, and reporting on the results, Qualtrics offers all kinds of services.
Qualtrics’ Prediction Analysis tool uses historical and current survey responses to make predictions about customer behavior. This tool helps analyze how the market will react to new products or services you plan to launch.
Qualtrics offers a flexible service so that you can request a quote according to your requirements.
These are some of the best tools available for qualitative analysis.
However, if these tools are a bit pricey for your needs, here is a list of free tools you can use.
Free Qualitative Data Analysis Software Programs:
Now you know the best ways to analyze your market research data and the tools you can leverage to make this process more efficient and systematic.
List Hyper-Specific Action Items and Follow-Up Research Questions to Maximize the Value from Your Market Research
Market Research helps you identify your customer’s requirements and expectations.
With research, you can benchmark yourself against your competitors and ensure you have a leading advantage.
One of the best ways to gain a better perspective is through follow-up questions.
Interviews via telephone or face-to-face and emails are your principal follow-up marketing tools.
After your customer fills out your survey, you already have their attention. You could ask them almost any question related to your product or service, and they would probably answer it.
You might choose to stay anonymous during your original survey to avoid the respondent to be influenced by your brand. So, in the follow-up section, you can ask your audience everything you want them to answer about your brand.
You also have the freedom to include as many open-ended questions as you like, for it gives them space to share how they feel directly.
Here is a list of follow up questions to find additional information specific to your brand and business.
- What could we do to increase your score by just one mark?
- If you could change one thing about our product, what would it be?
- What three of these features would you most like to see in the product’s future?
- Which of these words best describes our product?
- What problem would you like to solve with our product?
- How would you rate the value for money of the product?
- How easy is it to navigate on our website?
- Were you able to find the information you were looking for on our website?
- How did this effort compare to your expectations?
- How responsive have we been to your feedback about our products?
- Why did you choose our product rather than a competitor’s?
You may get answers to some of these questions in your original survey, but the follow-up survey gives your audience the chance to open up.
When you allow your customers to go deeper and speak about their experience and feelings, it builds a foundation for trust and loyalty.
This happens only when you take their responses into account and improve your products to meet their needs and wants.
Most people take surveys and never hear back apart from a stale, thank you note. They don’t know how their contribution helped; if the business did anything with the information in the first place.
Be sure to drop an email after your market research analysis to thank them sincerely. Additionally, include the top 2 or 3 three conclusions you have drawn from their surveys and how you plan to implement them.
People like to know how their contributions helped create an impact and assure your audience that they didn’t waste their time with you.
When you engage them in your research process, they will distinctly remember your brand and be more open to participating in your future research.
Best Market Research Methods for Small Businesses on a Low Budget.
Spending an outrageous amount of money is not the only way to do market research.
I’ll give you five cost-effective market research strategies that you can implement to gain actionable data.
1. Research Product Reviews on Amazon.
Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer.
Amazon accounts for 13.7% of worldwide e-commerce sales. In the United States, Amazon is projected to account for more than half of the local e-commerce market.
Amazon is the fastest and easiest way to uncover what your customers are looking for and what they are actually buying.
What people say and what they do can sometimes be miles apart, and amazon shows you their actions.
You can check out your competitor’s products and head over to the review section to know what people have to say regarding the product.
You can know exactly what products are working, and the positive reviews will tell you what aspects of the product people are benefitting from.
But what will help you the most is finding what people are complaining about.
Viola! You found their pain point.
Suppose your company manufactures helmets. You scroll through your competitor’s products on amazon and navigate to the customer reviews.
There’s your pain point!
Your competitor’s product does not offer proper gear to shield people’s nose from dust.
If your product works to satisfy those customers, you can effectively steal your competitor’s audience!
2. Use Quora for Your Market Research
Quora has over 300 million unique visitors each month.
Quora is an information-focused platform to ask questions, get answers, and share your knowledge on topics you are familiar with.
Quora’s online community is an excellent place to find views, opinions, advice, standpoints, beliefs, explanations, and answers to everything you want to know.
If you think you may not find what you need at Quora, you should note that there are over 400,000 topics on Quora right now.
Quora is a platform for real people seeking answers. There is no third party involved, and you can know what people want in their own words.
It is an excellent place to conduct your research.
How to use Quora for market research?
You can sign up for Quora using your Google or Facebook account, and you can start following topics you are interested in.
Quora also gives you relevant suggestions when you type in specific topics or keywords in the search bar.
Quora has a feature where you can follow topics you are interested in.
When you follow a topic, Quora will optimize your home page news feed to show you the latest activity within topics you are interested in.
You can also note topics related to your search result on the right section of the page.
When people post questions tagging topics you follow, Quora will notify you.
You can also get the latest questions sent to you via email.
Go to the Settings option and then navigate to Email and Notifications to optimize settings according to your preference.
You will be able to track relevant topics with notifications and learn about what people in your industry are saying and what your audience has to say about your industry.
To gain more insights about a topic, click on the meatballs menu button, and select Manage.
Quora will give you information about common misspellings, alternative names, and standard abbreviations for your chosen topic.
On Quora, very similar topics are merged. You can find topics that have been integrated with the subject you are interested in.
On the right section of the page, Quora gives you information about your chosen subject's parent topics and child topics.
When you look for a particular question, Quora ranks the answers based on the number of Upvotes a response received. This feature will help you understand customer pain points.
Use Quora for your product research.
Quora also has brand-based topics. If your business has products, you can use Quora to see what people have to say about your products or services.
You should follow topics and questions specific to your business and answer queries people might have about them.
Joining in on conversations where your products or services are involved will help you gain a deeper understanding of how people perceive your products.
You can use websites like QuestionsPro to find relevant questions and track your answers.
3. Look at Your Google Analytics Data and Email Marketing Data
Google Analytics is an exceptional tool for market research that is available for free.
At first glance, Google Analytics can be quite daunting.
There is way too much data presented to you, and if you are not familiar with the tool, you will keep going around in circles and walk away with a spectacular headache.
To make your life easier, here is an overview of the features of Google Analytics that can help you with your market research.
Google Analytics has eight main sections: Dashboards, Shortcuts, Intelligence Events, Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions.
Out of all these, there are four sections you need to pay close attention to — Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions.
1. Audience Section
This section gives you detailed insights about your users.
In this section, you can find information regarding the gender, age, and location of visitors to your website.
To find this information, focus on sub-sections Demographics and Geo.
The Demographics section will give you information regarding your website visitors’ age range and gender.
To know where your website visitors are from, click on the Geo Dropdown, and select Location.
If you want more specific information, you can click on individual countries to know which states in those countries your visitors are from.
Furthermore, you can select individual states to obtain a list of cities.
This will help you create strategies for your campaigns to drive better results.
2. Acquisition Section
This section will give you detailed information about how people come to your website.
You can analyze where most of your traffic comes from and find keywords your visitors used to navigate them to your website.
But this Keywords tool of Google analytics may not always be useful because of Google’s decision to encrypt keyword data.
If you would like to obtain data about Google's organic search keywords, you can use Google Webmaster Tools (Go to Search Traffic, then select Search Queries.)
3. Behavior Section
This section will provide a rich understanding of how your audience interacts with individual pages on your website.
Google Analytics Behavior section includes nine sections and tools.
These tools will help you learn about your user behavior. You can know which is the most visited page on your website and what actions people are taking while visiting your website.
4. Conversion Section
If you have an online store, the Conversion section will give you insights regarding your leads and conversions.
This section provides eCommerce Analytics to get information regarding how your products are performing and how many sessions or days it takes before your prospects convert.
People don’t give their personal information without reason, and if used right, your email list can develop a profound connection with your customers.
You have contact details of people interested in what you have to say and have directly interacted with your business by providing their contact information.
So why not make the best of it?
In 2020, roughly 306.4 billion emails were sent and received each day.
Social Media platforms come and go with changing market trends, but email has been an integral part of our daily lives for ages.
This is because, with emails, you have the freedom to reach out to your audience with no restrictions. There is no third-party who can impact how, when, or why you reach out.
As of 2020, there are over 4.03 billion email users worldwide.
That is more than half of the world’s population. So, if you are looking for a way to connect with people, email is the perfect place for you.
Many marketers have used email marketing to generate sales, but if you look at email marketing in terms of only leads and sales, you lose out on a lot.
One hidden capability of email marketing is market research.
Though it isn't as full-blown as other research tools, email marketing does help with market research and has advantages over cost-effectiveness and reciprocation speed.
Using Email Marketing Data for Market Research
Any email with a call-to-action gives insights to help your research.
If you have sent an email offering seven products to your subscribers, you can analyze which product has done the best and which hasn’t.
But this isn't only limited to knowing your product's popularity; you can gain a deeper understanding by analyzing who purchased which product.
Based on past purchases or demographics, you can see which customers like a certain kind of product.
Email marketing does have its limitations.
It does not offer anonymity, meaning your customers will know who has sent them the survey. So, if they choose to take up the survey, their answers could be influenced by how they perceive your brand.
So, how can you make the most of a survey delivered by email?
- Offer Incentives. When you offer a promo code or a gift card to someone in exchange for a few minutes of their time, they will be more inclined to help you out than if you just ask them to fill a survey.
- Survey Questionnaire. The survey you send via email to your subscribers can't include the same questions as your other surveys. You need to keep in mind that they already know who you are, including questions like, “According to you, who is the best brand in the XYZ industry?” will not be useful.
- Type of questions. Your questions should be clear and straightforward. Don’t include too many open-ended questions; make it as easy-to-answer for your audience as possible.
- Compare survey analysis. You can get deeper insights if you compare survey results according to specific categories like geographical location. This will provide you with information about which type of your audience favors what.
How to build your email list?
To build your email list, you need people to subscribe. As we have already established that people don’t give out their personal information for free, you could create lead magnets.
Types of lead magnets:
Email Marketing Tools
Using an email marketing service is tremendously important. These software programs help you optimize and personalize your emails.
They are simple to use and offer a variety of features that you can leverage to create email marketing campaigns.
Even if you do not have a technical bone in your body, you can create, personalize, and customize your emails by yourself.
These tools ensure that all your emails are optimized to display perfectly over all devices and give you detailed engagement analytics.
How to Use Competitor Research for Market Research
Why are your competitors doing better than you are? What is their marketing strategy? Who are they targeting? What keywords are bringing traffic to their website?
If you are not aware of what your competitors are doing, how do you expect to outrank them?
This is the reason why you need to conduct a competitor analysis.
What is competitor analysis?
Competitor Analysis (or competitive research) is the process where you identify your major competitors and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
The goal of conducting a competitor analysis is to replicate their successful strategies and exploit their weaknesses.
When you know what entities your competitors are targeting, you can develop strategies to target the same entities and generate better results.
These weaknesses could be a particular market they’re overlooking or even keywords that they’re not targeting to get traffic to their website.
Competitive Analysis in Marketing
Competitor analysis will:
- Help you create full-proof marketing strategies.
- Identify gaps in the market and opportunities that your competitors are overlooking.
- Replicate your competitor’s strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses.
- Help you make informed decisions for future investments.
How to conduct your competitive analysis?
1. Identify your major competitors.
Determining who you are competing with is an essential first step.
Social media and search engines have made market research a much easier process. You are only a search result away from knowing who the major competitors in your industry are.
What products or services do they offer?
Understanding what your competitors offer and its features are essential. Here are a few questions you can answer to understand your competitor better.
- What is the price range of their products?
- Who are their ideal customers?
- What is their primary customer demographic?
- How do they stand out from their competitors?
- How are they marketing their products or services?
- What are its most popular features?
You need to assess the market to identify both the major players and those steadily on the rise.
Porter’s Five Forces Model allows you to analyze the competition in the marketplace and helps you identify your standing among competitors.
Porter’s industry analysis method recognizes the following five fundamental for]]>
- Competitive rivalry. How many firms compete, and how much is the market growing?
- Threat of substitute products. How likely is it for customers to switch to other firms?
- Bargaining power of buyers. How much power do customers have?
- Threat of new entrants. How easy is it to establish a new firm?
- Bargaining power of suppliers. How much power do suppliers have?
This market research analysis technique will give you a better understanding of your industry’s competitive landscape.
2. Acquire Competitors’ Credit Reports.
Business credit scores rank the creditworthiness of a business.
You can get access to your competitor’s credit reports online for free. While personal credit scores are not available online, business credit scores can be accessed by anyone.
Additionally, it is vital to create your business’ credit report to determine and prove your credibility.
According to a study published by The Wall Street Journal, around 25% of business credit reports you find online may contain errors or lack critical information.
Trusted Sources to Get a Free Business Credit Report.
- Nav You can gain access to free credit report services, including a summary of business credit reports from D&B, Equifax, and Experian. The business credit report also includes a letter grade with the credit-score range.
- Creditsafe. You can sign up at CreditSafe to gain a free credit report for your own business. After you fill out an online request, you have to talk to a Creditsafe representative to activate your business credit report.
- Dun & Bradstreet Credit Signal It is a free business credit reporting service provided by D&B. Credit Signal offers free monitoring service so you can be instantly notified of changes in your business’ D&B credit scores and ratings.
Sources for Paid Business Credit Reports.
- Dun & Bradstreet It is one of the oldest credit reporting companies in existence. For every business you research, D&B provides a credit summary, a credit score, and a financial stress score. With D&B, you can also check out payment comparisons between different businesses in an industry.
- Equifax This tool will give you access to public records information like bankruptcy and a business failure score, which is a forecast of how likely it is for a company to crash in the next year. Along with a business failure score, Equifax business credit reports also include possible reasons for failure. You can also gather information about other companies associated with your chosen business and even their business demographics and payment history.
- Experian It is one of the newest key players in the credit reporting industry. Their business credit reports are incredibly detailed, including information right from the basics to risk alerts, risk indicator ratings, and even business verification. You can gain as many credit reports on your targeted business and be notified whenever new information is updated.
Analyzing these reports can tell you if the businesses are financially stable and how much risk there is in the industry.
3. Analyze and compare competitor’s content.
Familiarize yourself with the kind of content your competitor is publishing. Take note of the type of content that is receiving the most engagement.
What kind of content are you publishing, and how is it different from their content? Are you making use of all formats, or are you missing out on opportunities?
What is your competitor's primary focus on content marketing?
Here is a list of content formats you should take note of:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Case studies
- Paid ads
- Press releases
Compare the quality of content and analyze how frequently they are publishing. Determine their content strategy and see how you can build about that to gain better results.
4. Analyze their Website.
98% of businesses have rated a competitor’s website as a valuable resource and the best source for obtaining competitive intelligence data.
What are consumers searching for? Why are your competitors outranking you in SERPs? What strategies are they using to do so?
An essential aspect you need to know is what keywords they are ranking for.
Let’s assume McDonald’s to be your competitor brand.
For your market research, you should, of course, consider a wide range of brands. I’m only considering one brand for the purpose of learning how to do competitor analysis.
Use Google Ads Keyword Planner to analyze your competitor market.
Go to Keyword Planner and paste your competitor’s website URLs.
Be sure to select Use the entire site for the keyword planner to analyze their entire site.
When you click on Get Results, the keyword planner will give you a list of keywords that your competitor’s website ranks for.
But as you can see, most of the results won't help you as they are specific to your competitor's brand.
You can exclude their brand name by
- Clicking on Filter.
- Select Keyword.
- Choose Does not contain from the drop-down menu.
- Enter your competitor’s brand name.
Now you can see a much more relevant list that you can target.
You can now do this individually for all your competitor brands and see what they rank for and which keywords they have in common.
Note: Google Ads Keyword Planner is a free tool that is primarily for advertisers, not SEOs. You can use SEO specific tools like SEMrush, Moz, and Ahrefs to gain in-depth insights about your competitor’s SEO.
Your main objective is to try and outrank your competitor in SERPs.
Once you know what keywords your competitor is ranking for, analyze where they are using these keywords.
- Page title
- URL architecture
- Meta description
- Heading tags
- Content Body
- Inbound links
- Image alt text
- Social media
Additionally, also take note of the following:
- Page Speed Insights
- Domain Authority
- Root linking domains
- Sitemaps – HTML, image, XML, video
- Backlinking strategy
- Website responsiveness (Mobile and Desktop)
Analyze what keywords your competitor is ranking for that you are not. This is called keyword gap analysis.
Analyze how they are ranking for those keywords and build upon their strategy to give Google better content to consider.
5. Look at their social media engagement.
The next step is to analyze your competitor’s social media and see how they integrate it into their marketing strategy.
- Which social media platform are they focusing on?
- Where do they receive the most engagement?
- What kind of content are they posting?
- Which content format is working the best for them?
- How often do they post?
- What kind of profile pictures and cover images are they using?
- Check out their social media bio. What points have they mentioned in their overview section?
- What is their growth rate?
- Who are they following?
- How proactive are they? How well are they addressing consumer complaints?
- How are they interacting with their customers and brand advocates?
- What are their weaknesses? Is their response rate poor? Is it irregular posting? Spelling or grammatical errors? Lack of engagement? Poor imagery?
Find out areas you can exploit and use their social media strategies to successfully build your online presence.
6. Sentiment Analysis.
Sentiment Analysis is interpreting how customers feel about your business.
This is something that is often overlooked by businesses. It is crucial to track how the audience feels about your brand when compared to your competitors.
There are various free and paid tools that can help you assess the sentiment behind customer behavior.
Sentiment Analysis Tools.
- Quick Search
- Critical Mention
- Social Mention
- Sentiment Analyzer
- Social Searcher
Use these insights to gain the upper hand over your competition. And though you won't take the lead overnight, it is essential to track your progress with tools like Google Analytics, SEMrush, Moz, and Google Webmasters.
Analyze what is working and what isn’t, and optimize your strategy accordingly.
Ask Your Audience with Online Surveys
Conducting an online survey is probably the most effective means of getting direct feedback from your customers.
It is a straightforward, reliable, and affordable way of obtaining data.
You do not need any coding knowledge to conduct an online survey. You simply need to register on an online survey portal and create your survey.
These are hundreds of online survey platforms you can choose to conduct your market research. Each of them has its unique features, and it is important to filter through to find the one that fits your requirements.
I have compiled a list of leading SaaS online survey platforms for you to choose from.
Online Survey Platforms.
Typeform offers over 150+ survey templates for you to choose from. You can easily optimize them as per your specifications.
Many people abandon their surveys because they get bored. With Typeform, you can choose to project one question at a time to keep your audience engaged.
The free version of Typeform, nicknamed the CORE plan, offers various features.
- 3 typeforms.
- 10 questions per Typeform.
- 100 responses per month.
- Reports and metrics.
- Email notification when someone completes your Typeform.
- Embed your Typeform on a web page.
Price: Typeform plans start from $35 per month.
SurveyMonkey is one of the leading online survey platforms in the market.
It is incredibly user-friendly, and you can get reports of your market research survey in minutes.
If you do not have a source of participants for your research, with SurveyMonkey, you can find people who fit your criteria from their global panel of respondents.
SurveyMonkey Basic (Free) plan features:
- 10 questions or elements per survey
- View either 40 or 100 responses per survey (depending on when you created an account and your billing location.)
Responses over your plan’s limit are hidden and will be deleted after 60 days unless you upgrade to a paid plan.
With QuestionPro, you can not only create surveys but analyze your qualitative and quantitative research data.
As far as free survey tools go, you won’t find another that delivers as much value as QuestionPro’s free trial version.
Here are a few features of QuestionPro’s Essential (Free) plan:
- Unlimited surveys.
- Unlimited questions per survey.
- Unlimited responses (however, each survey is limited to a maximum of 1000 responses.)
- 25+ question types.
- Add your own logo to the survey.
- Shareable dashboard reports.
- Customized thank you page.
Price: QuestionPro plans start from $85 per month
These are the best online survey platforms available. A few other notable survey platforms you should consider are:
All the survey tools mentioned above have their advantages and limitations. Which platform you choose ultimately depends on your business requirements.
Best Sites for Market Research Reports, Finding Users to Interview, and Surveying
Throughout the blog, I’ve mentioned several websites and software programs you can use for various stages of your market research.
In this section, I am going to list additional tools (free and paid) that will make your life much easier while conducting market research.
U.S. Census Bureau data tools are excellent for conducting secondary market research.
It provides various market research tools and free industry research reports.
You can access economic, demographic, and population data and gain valuable insights for your research.
In fact, you can segment the user data by age, race, ethnicity, and even housing status and compare this information with other locations side by side.
This is another excellent website for obtaining free industry reports and datasets.
Pew Research Center gathers data and creates reports based on public opinion polls, demographic analysis, content research, and other social science data-driven research.
Its Download Datasets page lists the direct links to access the datasets available.
By creating an account, you can download survey reports and be notified if there are any changes made to datasets you’ve previously accessed.
Statista is one of the largest statistics portals in the market. The site provides datasets for over 80,000 topics.
Statista conducts market research using a broad range of specialist tools and is excellent at transforming qualitative data into statistics.
Google Trends is one of the best tools available for market research.
With Google Trends, you can determine what consumers are searching about competing brands.
You can analyze the popularity of one search term in comparison with other terms simultaneously.
You can also use filter features like region and category to gain insights according to your specifications.
With Feedier, you can effectively engage your participants, export your data, and run insight reports for your market research.
Here are a few features of Feedier’s free trial version, also called Essentials.
- 100 monthly responses
- 1 Feedback Form
- 1 User
- Interactive Form builder
- 12+ question types (NPS)
- Participant actions
- Visual data insights
Price: Feedrier plans start from $150 per month.
Think With Google is another terrific research tool to uncover the latest marketing trends.
Think With Google’s Market Finder helps you gain insights based on in-depth national and global data and consumer insights.
SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurship Education provides access to various resources and business and economic statistics.
There is a variety of tools, reports, and resources available for conducting your market research analysis.
With billions of people using social media all over the world, it is challenging to analyze what is being said and done on these platforms.
Social Mention is a search engine that analyzes content across various social media platforms.
With Social Mention, you can enter a specific keyword and get a list of mentions related to your search term. You can filter your search results by source, date, and even location.
Social Mention also provides a score for sentiment, strength, reach, and passion with respect to your search term.
9. Testing Time
One of the biggest challenges of conducting primary market research is finding participants for your research.
With Testing Time, you can find participants by specifying your target audience's characteristics like their location and demographics. You can even include additional criteria specific for your research like, “must own a car.”
Price: Their pricing options depend on the number of test users and the test method.
Most survey portals that provide a source for participants do not allow direct contact with the audience.
With Respondent, you can conduct video calls, phone calls, in-person discussions, or online research. It's up to you.
You decide on how much you are willing to pay per participant according to your budget.
Price: Respondent charges a 50% service fee per participant.
Market Research FAQ
There is no one size fits all when it comes to market research.
Four primary factors that define your market research cost:
1. The type of research to fulfill your specifications and the cost associated with it.
2. The number of participants you need for your research.
3. Incidence rate, i.e., the percentage of people who fit your target audience criteria.
4. Data collection method and the incentives you offer
The average cost for Top-level reports: $100 to $1,000. These reports will provide basic insights into your industry.
The average cost for Full-market reports: $1,500 to $8,000 (most commonly $3,500 to $4,000). These reports will be extremely detailed and cover various metrics about your industry from current market trends to future projections.
But if you are willing to put in the effort and cut down labor costs, and conduct most of your research online, you can gain insightful data for $300 to $1,500.
The truth is, you can undoubtedly conduct your market research in-house, but it is incredibly tedious to try to do everything on your own.
Extending your research by making use of market research firms and online marketing tools will make this process much smoother for you.
While you may not want to outsource your entire research, there is too much work that goes into market research, and handing out a few tasks makes your research much more efficient.
Hiring a freelance researcher may be the best course of action for small-scale field research. Most marketing agencies do not undertake projects with a budget below $4,000.
Before hiring a freelancer, run a thorough background check to analyze their credibility. Ensure they fit your business and have enough authority to conduct the research.
While conducting secondary market research, there are thousands of sources available online for free and a cost.
While it may be tempting to leverage free research reports, it is imperative to ensure that the source is credible.
Use government sources to access free reports that give basic insights about your industry.
Statistics that will have a direct impact on your business decisions should be handled with caution.
For example, economic projections or subjective analysis reports. To obtain accurate data for such statistics, the information must come from multiple credible sources.
So, here is the baseline.
If the data is free, verify it. If you can’t verify it on your own, purchase it from a reputed and unbiased publisher.
Ready to Understand Your Market Better Than Your Competitors?
When it comes to understanding your customers better than your competitors, you can’t rely on assumptions or feelings. You need hard numbers.
Market research may seem incredibly daunting at first glance.
It is time-consuming and tedious, but you wouldn’t be unnerved by conducting market research if you know the exact process.
In this blog, I’ve systematically broken down the entire market research process step-by-step, so you can conduct your research to attain maximum actionable insights.
You now know how to find gaps in the market and exploit your competitor’s weaknesses.
What market research methods you can use if you are on a budget.
How to understand your competitors’ strategies and build upon them to attain better success.
I’ve also listed several market research tools that you can use to conduct your research much more efficiently.
All you have to do is follow everything I’ve mentioned in this blog to understand the market and your consumers better.