6 steps to conduct market research

Is your marketing plan tailored to how buying actually happens?

Here are three important statistics about buyer behavior:

80% of Instagram users follow at least one business account (according to company data for 2017).

75% of smartphone users first turn to search engines to meet their needs (according to 2018 data from Google).

·Email messages that do not display clearly or correctly on mobile devices may be deleted within 3 seconds, according to 2018 HubSpot data.)

What should a marketer do so that buyers will surely find you without problems? Be like them.

It may sound trite, but are you sure you really understand what your customers are looking for and what influences their decision making? This is what market research is for.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced marketer, this guide will help you put together the perfect plan for researching your product, target audience, and your success in your industry.

Primary and secondary research

There are two main types of marketing research that companies conduct to collect the most important information about their products: primary and secondary research.

Primary Research

Primary research is the search for first-hand information about your market and its customers. You can use focus groups, online surveys, phone interviews, and more to gather up-to-date information about the challenges your customers face as well as your company’s brand awareness.

Primary research is useful in segmenting your market and identifying the buyer, and this research tends to fall into one of two segments:

• Exploratory Research: This type of primary market research is less about measurable customer trends and more about potential problems that could be worth solving. This is usually done as a first step before doing any specific research and may involve open interviews or surveys with a small number of people.

• Case Studies. This type of primary market research follows preliminary research and is used to delve into problems or opportunities that the business has already identified as important. In case studies, a business may take a smaller or more precise segment of its audience and ask questions aimed at solving a perceived problem.

Secondary research is all the data and public records that you can draw conclusions from. This includes market trend reports, market statistics, industry content, and sales data that you already have.

Secondary research is especially useful for analyzing your competitors.

Here are three types of secondary research sources that make this process so rewarding:

• Public sources. This is your first and most accessible source of material when conducting secondary market research. Since this data is freely available, such research will not cost you much. It is worth starting with government statistics.

• Commercial sources. These, for example, are market reports based on industry information compiled by research agencies such as Pew, Gartner or Forrester. Such information is usually paid.

• Internal sources. Internal sources deserve special attention. This is market data that your organization already has. Average sales revenue, customer retention rates, and other historical data about the health of old and new accounts can help you draw conclusions about what your customers might want right now.

How to conduct market research?

1. Draw a portrait of your buyer

2. Determine the reasons for buyer engagement

3. Recruit Participants for Market Research

4. Prepare research questions.

5. List your main competitors.

6. Take stock

1. Draw a portrait of your buyer

Before examining how customers in your industry make purchasing decisions, you must first understand who they are. This is the start of your primary market research where buyers come in handy.

The customer profile—sometimes referred to as the marketing profile—is a fictional, composite image of your ideal customer. It helps to visualize the audience, optimize communication and improve the strategy. Here are some of the key characteristics we are interested in to create a buyer persona:

• Age

• Floor

• Place of residence

• Place of work

• Job title

• Family status

• Income

• Main problems

The idea is to use this portrait as a guide as you reach out to real customers in your industry and learn more about them (you will do this in the next steps).

You may find that your business is linked to more than one buyer persona, and that’s okay! You just need to make sure you have the specific buyer persona in mind that you’re optimizing for when planning your content and campaigns.

2. Determine what to influence

Now that you know who your customers are, you need to find a representative sample of your target customers to understand their real characteristics, problems, and buying habits.

These should be people who have recently made a purchase (or deliberately decided not to make one), and you can meet them in several ways:

• in person through a focus group

• conduct an online survey

• arrange individual telephone interviews