In a market study conducted in 2015 by Think with Google 89% of buyers use the internet during the B2B research process, 71% start with a generic search query and 57% of their evaluation is done before they’ll perform an action on your site. The insights from the study clearly reflect that today’s buyers make informed decisions about purchasing. So, does your marketing plan and strategy aligns with the buying thought process of your target audience? If not, get to know the importance of market research to design a customer-centric marketing strategy.
Go where your consumers are going, speak their language and emote their emotions to connect with your target audience. Yes, this is what most marketer’s do. Yet, knowing your target audience in a deep fashion by learning what they would learn to know. And, to do this, market research is the best tool to know the buyer’s journey. Every sales and marketing professional must look beyond just offering a sales pitch to the consumers. All sales and marketing professional must know to conduct a methodical and professional market research and analyse the data gathered from it for the benefit of the business.
A market research is a method of collecting data about the consumers and to determine whether a particular product or service would satisfy the needs of the audience. An effective market research can be the fertile seeds in every stage of the business cycle. Business organisations can gain information about the performance of the company in the market, target persona, competitors, economic shifts, current market trends and the changing needs of the consumers from a compelling study.
The competitive business ecosystem ensures firms possess the apt knowledge about the changing concerns and preferences of the consumers. Market research is the best way to augment the customer satisfaction and get to know the factors that make or break the business. Identifying the problem areas of the business, minimise the loss in business, seek new business opportunities and reach to new global markets through a compelling market research.
Irrespective of whether you are a newbie or an established marketer in the industry, this blueprint and a step-by-step guide to understanding to conduct a market research is going to be helpful and handy to get a deeper vision into the consumer’s journey.
There are two main types of market research. Once the plan and the hypothesis of the research are decided, it is time to decide on which type of market research should be conducted. The two types are:
This research includes the researching about the product of the company, product of the competitors, what is the audience needs and how the product would connect with the audience, what is the value proposition, etc. This is usually done internally.
Key Attributes of a Market Research Study
Some of the key attributes of a professional market research study are survey research, survey questions, survey distribution models, survey analysis, and survey report.
An online or offline questionnaire which has set of questions that would be answered by the potential consumers. This could be given to the audience either in hand or emailed or SMS to them through the digital world.
This is the most critical part of any market research. The language, tone, important and valid questions that pertain to the traits of the audience is important aspects of focus.
Survey Distribution Models
Ensure you opt for the best survey distribution model. Emails are considered to be the best distribution channel to collect data irrespective of B2C or B2B business.
The final analysis is the climax of any survey. While excel sheets and pie-charts were the past analysis methods, there is a swift evolution of inbuilt market research software platforms that automatically provide live survey analytics, all in real-time!
The survey report is the complete set of conclusions drawn from survey analysis. This includes what the current trend is and what projections appear to be. A good survey report forms a complete thesis based on the market research objectives and survey data analysis.
An Ideal Process to do Market Research: Step-by-Step Method
#1 Define Your Personas
Before knowing how your audiences are making decisions, the first step is to know, ‘Who are the consumers?’. The process of knowing and defining consumers are Target Persona Research. To know this, crafting a buyer persona is essential. Buyer personas also referred as marketing personas, are the fictional, generalized traits of the ideal or potential customers. Buyer personas aid to visualise the audience, streamline the consumer communications and help in designing an effective marketing strategy.
In order to create target personas, use different target persona templates available in the market and easily organise the audience segments. Some of the most important fragments of the persona are; name, age, demographics, professional qualifications, passion and interests, challenges of their life, and how would be they connected to the business and the brand. These information’s would help to classify the audience as per their needs and the business could target them accordingly.
Be thoughtful while brainstorming about the target personas. Be specific and clear about the needs of the audience. Remember, you are optimizing information for designing and executing marketing campaigns that would lead to attract potential customers and generate business leads.
#2 Sampling of the Audience
Once defining the fictional target personas, it is necessary to check with the real audience. It is time to match the brainstormed ideas with the with the real audience. A representative real audience to understand the buyer’s journey is important.
The participants of the market research experiment must possess the characteristics of the fictional buyer persona. A minimum of 10 participants in the sample group is a must. It is vital to select people who have currently interacted with the brand. These people could be who have made the purchase, who were making a purchase and people who might be potential customers. This mix of participants would lead to an effective and insightful study. A simple recruiting process of participants includes various steps such as: making a list of customers who made the purchase, call for participants from the social media world, and create incentives for participation.
#3 Planning & Preparation of the Discussion Guide
Being prepared for conducting the experiment and survey is essential. Whether it is an email, telephone or a focus group interviews, being prepared to ask and handle different questions in different scenarios is essential. A good planning and preparation for the discussion would help in the asking the right and important questions and use the time of the participants and the business professionals wisely.
The discussions need to be free flowing, natural and conversations. Yet having a guide to different questions, and probable answers for different situations would help to keep the conversation lined to the objective of the research. The discussion guide must be a parameter and an outline format for the experiment with the audience along with the information of time factor and list of questions to be addressed in the discussion.
Asking yes or no question is leading the audience to a particular answer. In the initial stages of buyer persona study, it is always recommended to know have all open-ended questions. These questions will restrict the one-word response and give a better picture of the audience. The questions could be framed in the chronological order such as the introduction of the participant, the professional details, passion, and interests. Then specific questions that would connect the brand and the buyers. This would give an insight into why people would buy the product or service and why wouldn’t they do so.
Classify the questions as per Awareness, Consideration, and Decision stage of the cycle. It is essential to know when does a buyer make a purchase and what are the factors that influence these purchasing decisions. Lastly, ask questions that help the business understand what their expectations from the brand and the business product or service are.
#4 Leading the Conversations
It’s time to directly talk to the participants through the survey questions. Whether it is an online or an offline survey, understand when and how to talk to the participants once the questionnaire is given to them. Never accept short answers. Gently and politely make sure they open up and have long interactions. Allow participants to think and give them their space and time. It is always essential to keep the focus group on track with the persona objective and traits. Never mislead them or if they go off-track, ensure they are back to the purpose of the market research.
#5 Analysis & Inferences of the Market Study
It would be quite overwhelming to collate all the data from the participants. It is usually recommended to look for common themes and thoughts that could be expressed as a story, leading to a specific plan and process for marketing strategy. The summary of the market research should have details about the background of the study, which includes the goals and reasons for the study. It must also have information about the participants, the main inferences from the different stages such as awareness, consideration and stage. At the last, the final inference and the action plan to design a successful marketing campaign.
The advantages of a quantitative market research are fully data-oriented decision making, zero scopes of analytical errors and timely and concrete projections. Some of the statistical analysis techniques of market analysis are; Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency (TURF) Analysis, Conjoint Analysis, MaxDiff Analysis, GAP Analysis, Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threat (SWOT) Analysis, Trend Analysis and Text Analysis.
A qualitative market research is cost-effective, gives in-depth insights about the target audience of the business, flexibility to know the different business products which would fit the audience taste and answers the ‘why’ for all the business problems.
Whether you are an entrepreneur who is planning to start a business or an established business professional who has a target audience, market research is critical for the business organisation. The results and inferences from the market research could help in optimizing the brand strategy and positioning, elevate the communication strategy with the consumers, innovate the impact of the product and assess the performance of the business in the market when compared to the competitors. In short, elevating the business operations.
Key Skills Required to Excel as a Market Researcher
Some of the key skills needed to succeed as a Market Researcher are commercial awareness, strong and exceptional data analysis skills, brilliant organisational skills, pleasing and approachable interpersonal skills, and clean and clear communication skills. A great market researcher must always look out for something new in the consumer, must be curious by nature, methodical in work culture and always prioritise and focus on consumers first and then the process.
Mistakes that Most Market Researchers Make
Some of the common mistakes that most market researchers make are: doing only primary research or doing only secondary research, using the only web for research, not being able to identify and connect with the audience, and giving zero incentives for the consumers to communicate with the brand. Ensure you do not make these mistakes. Every research must be a blend of all types of research that gives inferences from different dimensions and perspectives.
As a process, market research would feel and look like an overwhelming operation. Having said that, the more you conduct market research, the easier it gets. It is a very eye-opening experience which would sometimes amaze the marketers. The study unquestionably would help in knowing the audience better, enhance the communication channels and improve interactions with the consumers. The renowned marketing professionals and market research scientist recommend business organisations to conduct market research studies at regular intervals of time to stay abreast and ahead of the competitors.