Marketing research is crucial to providing your customers with a product or service they actually want – which is crucial to the success of your business. There are many different ways, however, to research your target. Which marketing research methodology is best for you?
The answer is likely “a mix of several approaches”, but to truly know what the best market research methods are for your brand, you should understand the types of market research currently in use and what they might be able to offer your organization.
Types of Market Research
Ultimately, there are two types of market research: primary and secondary. Primary research is research done directly with your customers, gaining information from the market itself. Secondary research is the data gathered from other sources that tell you something about your market, like sales analysis or demographic statistics. Here are several of the methods that fall under each type.
- Interviews: A one on one conversation isn’t always feasible with every customer or potential customer, but they can be a hugely valuable source of information. Sometimes even an informal conversation at a trade show booth can serve as an information gathering session. Being able to ask a customer or interested party what they’re looking for in a product or service, what they value, what the most important part of a transaction is, and what factors go into making a purchasing decision can help you shape your product line and marketing efforts.
- Customer Surveys: Surveys are as valuable as interviews and often easier to conduct. Asking for customer feedback through text, email, or over the phone gives businesses more insight into customer experience and expectations. This kind of qualitative research method, if provided across a wide enough sample of your market, can tell businesses and organizations a lot about how their customers like to receive information, what information they find valuable, how they use current products, and what improvements they’d like to see. Surveys are also an excellent tool for understanding feelings about your brand in general, including if your brand is seen as trustworthy, memorable, etc.
- Product Testing: Sending out product samples or prototypes to a select group of people can be a great way to solicit honest feedback and help to shape final or future products. Incorporating user comments is also a way to show engagement and interest in your customer to help build long-term relationships over time and be seen as a brand that values both innovation and its customers.
- A/B Testing: This kind of research is collected directly by certain marketing methods. If you use a different headline on an email to two distinct but similar groups and one gets more engagement, you can assess that your audience is partial to one version over another. This kind of testing – on emails, website landing pages, or direct mail pieces – gives brands an opportunity to use hard, impartial, user-generated data to shape decisions.
- Sales Data: While sales data does come from customers, it is an impersonal kind of information gathering. Still, sales data can tell you a lot about your market. This information is excellent for understanding trends and product success. Plus, conversations with sales reps and account managers can give marketers more information on what their customers are asking for or complaining about.
- Competitor Data: While this information is not always easily accessible, it is a worthy investment of time. Even going through a competitor’s online product catalog or searching their online and digital ad presence can help you identify potential gaps in your product lineup or marketing mix.
- Demographic Statistics: Local businesses – like gas companies, for instance – benefit from understanding the people who live in their location. Having census data or other demographic statistics can help organizations understand who their local customer base is – everything from salary to family size – to help make better decisions about everything from their product offering to communication methods.
Research is foundational to understanding. You can’t know the answers to questions you don’t ask or solve problems you don’t know about. Research gives you insight into your customers and helps you understand more about everything from who they are, what difficulties they have, how much discretionary income they have, where they consume news and media, how and where they make their purchases, how they decide what to buy, and even their other interests and concerns. This is all valuable information that can be folded into your product development and marketing strategies for greater customer engagement and retention.