How to Do Market Research: A Guide for Beginners
You just launched a new product that you invested a lot of time and monetary resources into creating.
A total of 5 emails, 10 ads, and 3 promos later, your marketing team is chugging down cold ones at your local pub to drown out your dud-of-a-product sorrows.
We’ve got good news and bad news…
The bad news is that this is all your fault.
The good news is that it is fixable. In fact, it is entirely preventable.
Did you know you can actually predict how well your products will do?
No crystal balls. No wishing on a star. Just good ol’ get-your-hands-dirty market research.
Want to skyrocket your growth? Stop leaving money on the table so your competitors can swoop in and steal the profits.
Dig into market research methods and stop relying on guesses and hunches, and instead, start planning your business growth instead of hoping and praying for it to happen. You are better than that.
Let’s talk about how to do market research…
What Is Market Research? Why Is It Important?
Market research is not something you do because you read about it on one of your favorite influencer’s blogs so you thought it would be cool to try. This isn’t a popularity contest. You should know how to do market research because it’s critical to success.
Market research entails diving deep into the desires, needs, problems, and behaviors of the people who will be interested in buying your products and services. Market research helps you identify your target audience.
Your target audience includes the people you market to. The more you know about them, the easier it is to communicate to them and connect with them. And the more you connect with them, the more product you sell because they trust you. And the more product you sell, well, you get the point… You will GROW your business and attract loyal customers—plain and simple.
“Why is market research so important? Can’t I just sell my products to whomever wants them?”
Sure, you can just launch your products into the world and then wait to see how your campaigns do.
You may get some sales and even get lucky. Congratulations! If you want to build your business on a wing and a prayer, be our guest.
But, that’s not how we do things over here. We are all about reliable data. We’d rather put our money on a Albert Pujols behind the plate rather than Uncle Freddie who may or may not know how to swing a bat.
Albert Pujols may strike out now and then, but we know his strengths and weaknesses and we can all but guarantee a lot of home runs in the future. Uncle Freddie? Good luck.
Market research is ESSENTIAL for ongoing, long-term business growth. Without it, it’s like driving to your destination in a violent storm with no visibility and no map to help you. Luck is the only thing that will get you there, and that’s not something to hinge the entire success of your business on (nor is Uncle Freddie).
Here’s one way to understand why market research is CRITICAL:
Let’s say you wanted to impress your girlfriend on your first anniversary with an amazing gift. Would you just choose a random gift from the first store you find? Or would you consider her desires, what makes her light up, and what will make her feel more connected to you? Hopefully it’s the latter.
Your target audience is your girlfriend. The more you know the people you are targeting, the more you can make a connection, which builds trust and leads to SALES.
The elephant in the room…
Okay so you realize that market research methods are important, but let’s talk about the large elephant in the room
Look, we know your heart doesn't skip a beat when you think about how to do market research. And the truth is, yeah, it can be boring. But, to put it as kindly as possible, buck up.
You’ve just got to get in there and do it. We promise that once you experience the benefits of executing on sound market research data, you’ll experience all of the tingly feelings you could ever hope for, because those tingles will come from the dollar signs (cha-ching) in your bank account.
So we know market research is essential to business growth. But, what are some other benefits?
Market research will help you…
- Define your marketing strategy
- Build brand awareness
- Increase leads
- Identify new niches
- Stay updated on industry changes and trends
- Improve or create new products that you know your audience will love (no guesswork)
- Build key relationships
- Improve positioning
Want to WIN at Market Research? First Things First, Identify a Goal
Doing market research without a goal is like joining a football league with no desire to beat your opponent. Let’s be real. You want to win and so do we.
If you want to win at market strategy, you’ve got to understand how to do market research and have a goal in mind.
If you are just starting out or you don’t have any problems/challenges (yet), then your main goal is to identify your audience. If this is you, stick with a larger goal such as figuring out if your products are priced correctly for your market or what your consumers’ priorities are.
But, if you currently have customers, tying your market research to a more specific goal can yield better results.
For example, maybe your last product launch got a lot of page views but dismal sales. It could be a targeting problem with either your copy or your product or both.
Digging deeper into this, your goal would be to figure out WHY this particular product is not selling. Are you targeting the wrong people? Are you targeting the right people but you don't know them enough to connect with them? Is your product not really meeting their needs or solving their problems? These are the questions you need to answer with your market research.
Nailing a goal will help you create a solid market research plan that drives tangible results and increases ROI.
How to Do Market Research (Regardless of Your Business Size)
Once you have a goal, it’s time to conduct some research.
IMPORTANT: Remember that the data should drive your marketing strategy, not your hunches, guesses, or instincts. Instincts are deadly when it comes to market research. Don’t rely on your assumptions about what you think you know about your customers. This will set you up for failure every time. If you want to learn more about the importance of this, read this article on market orientation.
If you want to know how to do market research, you need to understand that there are 2 types.
Market research is categorized into primary and secondary research
- Primary research gathers data directly from customers and may include surveys, interviews, or focus groups.
- Secondary research involves researching information reported by third parties such as online statistics or data you gleaned from reviewing competitor blogs or monitoring social conversations.
Which form of research should you use?
Both are valuable and should be included in your market research. However, if you really want to get a hold of what makes your customers tick, primary research is the most effective.
If you are on a budget and you just started your business (or you have no customers), secondary research is the more affordable option. However, as your business grows, your need for primary research will grow with it, and it will be essential to talk directly to your customers to gauge how well you are satisfying their needs.
Let’s first talk about secondary research:
If you are a new company with few to no customers, your market will be the best teller of who your targets are. Here are some steps:
Research your competition
Search your competitors’ marketing practices and take note of their strategy to get an idea of what matters to your audience.
Don’t copy them!
For one, it’s just plain wrong (we shouldn’t have to even say this). Second, you don’t know how well their tactics are performing or the depth of research they have done (if it is even accurate). Use competitor data to gain inspiration for your own strategy.
What type of competitor data can you review?
- Email marketing messages (get on their email list)
- Social media messaging – What posts/content do their followers like the most?
- What events are they holding?
- What type of product pricing structures do they use? What do their product funnels look like? What are their offers?
- How are they communicating with customers? Their messaging can tell you a lot about their targets’ needs, wants, and desires.
Perform other types of secondary research
Besides competitive research, browse social sites to listen in on your audience’s conversations.
Monitor conversations on social sites such as:
- Yahoo Answers
- Niche-specific forums
- Blog comments (from popular blogs in your niche)
Look for any trends, customer concerns, questions, and issues. Are there any subjects consumers talk about more than others? What are the market’s overall goals and challenges?
There’s no substitute for getting information directly from your customers’ mouths. No amount of secondary research can replace the gold customers can give you. Even a few customers can give you enough insight to propel your business forward.
Primary research is key when you are…
- Creating buyer personas
- Getting data from a particular segment of your market.
Here are some common primary research modalities:
- Focus groups
- Customer surveys (online or by phone)
- Customer interviews (email, phone, or in person)
This is also where your goals come in that we discussed earlier. Primary research is a great way to get insight on a problem you are facing where customer data would help you figure it out. In this case, you can poll a particular market segment and ask the right questions to get the data you need to solve your challenges.
Check out our recent article for details on how to execute primary and secondary research.
Consult Google Analytics
Your target audience’s opinions are also being made known on your website. Their behavior and buying choices can make for some juicy market research data that reveals your visitors’ preferences.
Here are some ideas:
Track email clicks and open rates for your emails and notice what gets clicked and opened the most.
Split test different email copy and subject lines and identify any trends that point to user preferences. Most email providers come with split testing features built in.
If you really want to ramp this up, use links with Google UTM parameters so you can identify which clicks result in leads and purchases. So you are essentially tracking the customer from email open/click all the way to purchase. This is done with Google Analytics goals. If you need some assistance setting up something like this, let us know. We’d be happy to help.
Consult your Google Analytics to find out how your website visitors engage with your brand.
- Which content do they like best? Monitor page views and track the links on your articles to discover which result in leads and sales (you can use Google UTM parameters here as well).
- Which pages do your visitors like best?
- Which pages are they hitting the “back” button after leaving?
- Which links are they clicking on the most?
- Where are they exiting your site?
- What is keeping them from checking out and purchasing?
Knowing what your visitors like and don’t like is data that will help you hone in on your target’s needs. User Testing and Hotjar are 2 tools you can also use to find out what may be preventing your website visitors from taking the action you desire.
Market Research Answers the Big Questions
How do you know if you are doing market research effectively? Is your market research process good enough to help you get more sales and attract more customers?
If you are able to answer the following questions with enough detail, you are on the right track and have a solid idea of how to do market research.
Who are my customers?
Find out their physical demographics such as age, gender, location, job, marital status, family size, income, education, or any other physical trait that will help you target your audience more closely.
What is their purchasing behavior?
Research how your consumers buy product like yours, where they buy them, what products they like, their preferred price points and quantities—anything that relates to buying behavior.
What is their buying motivation?
Why would they choose your product? One consumer may purchase your product because of the price point, while another may favor a particular feature. Know WHY your customers buy so you can use this data in your marketing campaigns to win more business and increase revenue.
When your market research data answers these questions with certainty, you will be on your way to a successful market research campaign, which automatically translates to business growth.
Still fuzzy on how to do market research? Don’t be afraid to reach out.