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How to Get Real, Actionable Answers from Market Research

Modern Marketers understand that connecting with customers is key to their success. So it should be no surprise that market research is an important tool in the modern marketer’s toolbox. Whether you’re a startup or an established business, having an ongoing conversation with your customers can help you prioritize business decisions and focus your marketing to better meet their needs.

Market research. Just the thought of it can seem overwhelming. But answering a few questions and following these tips before you begin can help guide your research and ensure you get real, actionable answers.

What is Your Goal?

The reasons for conducting market research vary greatly. But for the Modern Marketer, the primary goal should always be to help your business focus on the customer. For some, that may mean you need help prioritizing where to spend your marketing dollars in order to elevate the customer’s brand experience. For others, it might mean looking for new growth opportunities within your market.

Whatever your goal, narrowing the scope of your research will help guide decisions regarding who to survey, what questions to ask, and how the information gathered will be used.

What Do You Hope to Learn?

What knowledge are you hoping to gain from the research? What you hope to learn will impact who you survey and what questions are asked. If you’re hoping to discover more about how customers find and buy your product or service, you’ll want to survey current customers. If you want to better understand perceptions of your product, you’ll get the most useful and relevant results by surveying a sampling that includes active customers, former customers, and potential customers. Maybe you’re more interested in learning why customers have switched to a competitor. If so, you’ll need to go back into your database and survey former customers.

Ask the Right Questions

Asking the right questions is critical to achieving actionable results. All too often, businesses assume they already know the motivation, preferences, and behaviors of their customers. As a result, surveys tend to include leading questions that don’t provide the type of real insights that are needed. In order to avoid bias, questions should be clear and concise, and allow for neutral answers.

Here’s a description of a few different types of survey questions:

Multiple choice questions allow respondents to choose a single answer or multiple answers to a very specific question.

Ordinal scale questions ask respondents to rank a range of items or choose from an ordered list. (Example: strongly agree to strongly disagree.) Most researchers recommend including a “N/A” option to avoid skewed results when question doesn’t apply to a survey taker.

Interval questions ask respondents to choose an answer that is a range (Example: Ages 25-30). For data to be analyzed most accurately, the intervals should be equal sizes.

Open-ended (or fill in the blank) questions are great for acquiring more detailed responses and qualitative data. However, because they must be reviewed manually, they take significantly more time to analyze.

Keep it Simple

Remember, how you structure your survey will impact both the quality of your data and how easily you are able to analyze the results. The simpler, the better. A good survey is never complex or time-consuming.

Today, most surveys are done online rather than by snail mail, which is great news for you. Online surveys are cheaper, much faster, and easier to create and analyze. They also tend to have a higher response rate and you can often see results in real-time.

Use It or Lose It

When done well, market research can provide valuable insights about your brand, your customers and your competition. However, all the market research and data in the world is useless if you don’t act on what you’ve learned. Don’t wait. Take a holistic view of the conclusions and information you’ve gained and apply them to your longterm business goals.

Create customer personas that enable you to refine your messaging to better reach your target market. Reprioritize your marketing dollars to reach customers through the channels they’re actually using. Most importantly, use what you’ve learned to connect with your customers in new and meaningful ways that drive business results.

Erin Chipman

A keen lover of details, Erin is at her best when helping B2B clients in complex industries reach their unique and, often, highly specialized audiences. Whether she’s creating content, executing a public relations campaign, or developing a media plan, she takes the time to get to know the intricacies of the brand and will share their story with earnest enthusiasm.