With so many changes in marketing and business, one thing is constant – the need for research.
Marketing research is a useful tool for businesses and brands to identify marketing strategies and business decisions utilizing data. In other words, the marketing research process is the foundation of marketing decisions and informed business.
Knowing this, you will be surprised to hear that marketing research is one of the things that businesses cut from their marketing budgets because it is time-consuming. This is not the smartest decision, especially when your company is planning to launch a new product. As some smart startups have revealed – the marketing research process doesn’t have to be expensive if you do it right.
Let’s review the marketing research process steps:
Step 1: Define the Opportunity or Problem
One of the most important parts of your marketing research process is determining the problem. To collect data and do any research, you have to know what you are trying to learn from the process.
Defining the problem you need to solve will show what information you need and how you can get that information. This will help your business clarify the opportunity or problem, such as how the best businesses fight the loss of market share or how to launch a new product.
Find questions that will allow you to define a specific problem and examine all causes so that the research can be summarized and includes the information you need to solve that problem.
Step 2: Have a Marketing Research Plan
Your research plan can be time-consuming and a bit overwhelming to create because it can include methods that will help you explore the opportunities identified in the previous step.
To help you build your marketing research plan, here are a few techniques to use:
- Interview customers and prospects: You can get the best feedback by using this strategy because you are going directly to the source. Use your defined problem to help choose the right people to interview.
- Conduct a survey: You can use tools like SurveyMonkey to conduct your survey.
- Run user tests: This is a cost-effective and simple approach that can provide a lot of insight on how your customers behave, whether it is new branding or messaging or a new product and service you are thinking about selling. A simple A/B test can help you in discovering user behavior.
The choice of technique will be based on the nature of data you are actually trying to collect:
- Exploratory Research: This research is used when the topic is not understood or well defined and your knowledge of the topic is a bit vague. This form of research will help you narrow your focus, gain broad insights, and learn the basics important to go deeper. A few exploratory research techniques include focus groups and interviews, secondary research. This is a qualitative form of research.
- Descriptive Research: If your research objective requires more detailed data or data on a specific topic, you will be doing descriptive research. The goal of this type of research is to measure a specific topic in a quantitative way. The most common research instrument are surveys.
- Casual Research: This is the most specific type of research and it usually comes in the form of an experiment or a field test. When doing casual research, you are trying to determine a relationship between two variables. For example, does the music I play in my coffee shop increase croissant sales?
Step 3: Analyze Data
In the marketing research process, data analysis is a very important part. It is the process of looking for patterns and trying to understand why those patterns actually exist. Data can be analyzed in two ways – quantitatively and qualitatively.
The first way or quantitative data analysis is a more complicated process and unless you are a match scientist it is better to use data analysis software like StatCrunch or SPSS.
Qualitative data analysis involves coding but don’t worry because is not the computer programming kind. This type of coding can be done by yourself or by using software. It involves looking for concepts, themes, and words that are repeated throughout the data.
Step 4: Put Your Findings into Action
Your research is officially complete meaning it is time to present your results and take action. At this point, you should start creating your marketing strategies and campaigns.
The biggest takeaway is that although the research is complete, you are not done.
The business environment, problems, and trends are changing meaning you are never over with your research. The trends you discovered through your marketing research are evolving and you should be analyzing your data regularly to see where you can improve.
The more you know about your industry, your buyer personas, and your company, the more successful your marketing strategies will be.
Step 5: The Marketing Research Report
The report will include your information including a clear and accurate description of your marketing research process assignment, the results, as well as, the conclusions.
It should be written in a language that is simple and easy to understand. Try to find a balance between conciseness and completeness. You don’t want to leave any details out. Also, you can’t get the information to get technical because you may overwhelm the readers.
One way to do this is to prepare two reports – one technical report and a summary report. The technical report can include methods and assumptions. You can also discuss your findings and include more details.
The summary report can summarize the research process and presents important findings and conclusions.
Another way to keep your findings simple is to prepare different representations. Infographics, PowerPoint presentations, and face-to-face reports are common methods for presenting your findings.
Market research is an iterative process meaning you can keep using what you learned to get better studies, evaluate the market conditions, and the needs of customers.
Other items that may be of interest to you: