Companies that understand marketing to be vital to the business don’t often realize that ‘marketing research’ is just as important process. If you don’t allocate budget to do extensive research, then you are in for a lot of trouble as you might have to do treble the work and burn a lot of money in the later stages because you couldn’t plan well enough. And sometimes, it may be too late to salvage anything of the original too!
Marketing is a concept which changes every single day thanks to advancement in technology and change in user psychology, but if there has been one thing that is a constant, it is marketing research. It is a pivotal step in the marketing process which helps you make informed decisions.
If there is one reason behind a lot of companies foregoing the marketing research process, it is because they think that it is an expensive process which takes a lot of time to get it done. But you need to understand that it does not have to be expensive if you follow the right steps. Fret not, we are going to tell the exact steps which you need to take to create a marketing research process.
Here is the eight-step process to create the ideal marketing research process:
- State the problem statement
- Identify the type of research design
- Use a sample design
- Collect relevant data
- Analyze data
- Prepare a marketing research report
- Visualize data and communicating results
- Take action
Step #1: State The Problem Statement
Finding the problem statement is the foundation of your marketing research process. Before you craft the strategy for the marketing research process, you need to figure out what you want to achieve with the help of this. Draft questions that help you define your problem clearly. Once you have determined the problem statement, the next step is to find out the information that is required to achieve the objective.
The information that you need to solve the problem can be determined by asking questions about the target market, ideal buyer persona and so on. Consider different variables which will affect the outcome of your marketing exercise. The problem statement can be solved better by having clearly defined objectives which will be achieved by drafting the right questions to get information.
The point of asking a lot of questions is that it will help you keep your research focused, objective and effective thereby increasing the chances of your marketing research process.
Step #2: Identify The Type Of Research Design
After learning about the research objective, the next step is arriving at the methodology to use for obtaining the data. There is a myriad of methods used in the marketing research process, which depends upon your objective, the kind of information you are looking for and the people you are going to interview for the same.
Here are some of the tips for conducting research:
- Interviewing the potential targets: The best feedback often begets when you are sitting in front of the prospect and asking them questions directly. This usually happens in the form of focus groups and one-to-one interviews. It is resource and time intensive, but it gives you the best results and a detailed one at that. Select the right set of people to interview based on what you want to achieve.
- Use an online survey tool for your market research: One of the best methods to collect feedback from a huge audience is using the help of an online survey tool. Survey Sparrow, as an online survey tool, helps you to optimize your survey and get the best results for it.
- Use landing pages extensively: Another method to understand user behavior and one that gives a lot of consumer insight are landing pages. Experiment with simple A/B tests to find out what works best and attracts your customers most. See the difference with the help of analytics tools to see the user behavior. While you can collect the primary data from your own methods that you apply, get your secondary data and use them as well. The best thing about secondary data is that it has already been verified by other sources and you don’t have to do it from scratch.
- Collecting data by observation: Observing a company’s present and past behavior can tell a lot about how it will behave in the future. You can analyze company records, look for areas where there is solid data with regards to the company. No matter whether you are gathering information from interviews or through observation, you need to document the entire process and the results so that there should be no questions raised about how you gathered the information.
Step #3: Use A Sample Design
Most marketing research projects encompass a huge population. This is where it becomes smart if you get a smaller representation of the population that should be an accurate description of how the population in total behaves.
Here are some of the questions that you need to ask to create a sample design:
- What are the characteristics you are looking for in the population?
- From which part of the entire population can you select this sample?
- What is the method that you are going to employ for the sample selection?
- What is the size of the sample?
Once you are sure about the relevant population, the next step is to find a base for your sample. Determining the appropriate sample size depends on a lot of factors including cost, questions that can be asked, time in hand and so on. Larger the size of the sample, lower is the error in accuracy. Companies that have a larger marketing budget tends to gain a bigger foothold here although that’s not necessarily the norm.
Step #4: Collect Relevant Data
Test your survey by ensuring all the fields have been entered correctly. Using an online survey tool like Survey Sparrow will help you to collect the data properly and ensure that the process is smooth. When you use marketing research, most of the data that you collect will be quantitative in terms of numbers and data more than qualitative. You will get a mix of two types of data: 1. In terms of numbers, and 2. Through observation. For example, you might find a certain type of behavior by observing activities on the website by visitors and might get the same type of data by interviewing a few website visitors and asking them questions.
If you go with the traditional form of collecting data like face-to-face interviews, telephone conversations and so on, it takes away a lot of time for you. Taking the help of an online survey tool like Survey Sparrow for the marketing research process can make all the difference in getting results in a short span of time without much of a difficulty.
When collecting data, use different kinds of question types like multiple choice questions, one and many answer questions, and so on. Use both open-ended and closed-ended questions to get different types of perspectives.
Step #5: Analyze Data
After you have gathered all the information, the next step is to analyze the data. The easiest way to glean some information is to look for patterns. If there are patterns that you can find based on the responses that you get from the people, then it means that there are a lot of people who have faced the same difficulty.
Writing down the entire steps that you have followed, right from the strategy used, research methodology employed, the type of questions raised, results, conclusions and so on. Not only can we use this as a compendium for the future, but it will also help you go back and analyze the results. This will help you find if there were any issues with the process that you followed.
While you can perform analysis of the survey using tools like SPSS, or even use Excel if it is not that complex, you can also use the dashboard feature present if you are using an online survey tool like the one we have at Survey Sparrow.
The analysis technique that you are going to use should be decided in advance because it depends on a lot of parameters including the kind of information you are collecting, type of measurements that you use and so on.
Step #6: Prepare The Marketing Research Report
The end of the marketing research process is marked by the creation of the research report. The report should have all the information, including a description of the research process, the results, tools used, learnings and so on. If a stakeholder who has not been through the entire process reads the marketing research report, they should be able to understand how the entire process happened and should be able to replicate it successfully.
The language in which it is written should also be easy to understand and while it should not ignore to include any information, it should not make it too technical that an ordinary layman would find it difficult to comprehend. The marketing research report should have both the technical side and the summary of the findings in it described in a detailed manner.
Step #7: Visualize Data And Communicate Results
After you have spent a significant amount of time in collecting and analyzing the data, the next step is to present the data in different types of visual forms so that it is easily understandable and information can be gleaned from it. While it is important that you present the information in an attractive way using tables, charts, pie charts, PPTs and more, remember to keep in mind that presenting the outcome should be the goal and not just beautifying it.
Each visual representation of the data should come with explanations about the implications of the same and how one can solve the issue or make something better. The business is not usually interested in the design of the research and the statistical analysis, but the different steps that can be taken to improve the product.
Step #8: Take Action
After you have presented your findings, the next step is to get into action mode. The results from the marketing research process would be a bunch of disparate things. You might realize any of the following as steps needed to be taken:
- Your marketing message is not clear and customers are not able to identify your product.
- Customers are looking for a product with a few more features
- Customers do not understand a few of the features that you have
- There is a lack of support for customers
- Customers are willing to pay more money for 24*7 support.
In short, there are a lot of things that you could end up finding as a part of your marketing research process.
Remember that once the marketing research process is over, it does not mean that you will stop doing it. The marketing research process should be employed in other instances too. Never stop learning from your customer because there is no one who can give you as much valuable information as they do. The more you know and understand consumer behavior, industry, buyer persona, company and so on.
Apart from the eight steps that we have outlined for you to complete the marketing research process, there can be other things that you incorporate to make it fast. But before you start your marketing campaign, make sure that you complete the marketing research process which will give you all the ammunition required to embark on a blitz. Do each of the tasks in a step-by-step process so that you don’t miss out on anything.
The 8 steps that we have presented for conducting a marketing research process are in a particular order, but if you feel like adding something more, do not hesitate. In fact, some of the stages can be expedited, all of this is based on the fact that businesses around the world do not follow the same policy.