A marketing research process is crucial before beginning a marketing plan to avoid entering it unprepared. You may employ social media engagement tracking software or focus group spending habits questions as part of your market research strategy. Whatever the route, businesses have long adopted various research techniques to gather customer insight, support brand development, and gain a competitive edge in the market.
These methods are a part of marketing research, which is a procedure that may provide details about a business's marketing initiatives, such as which items have the best chances of success or which advertising tactics will have the most impact. A successful marketing plan may be developed with the help of marketing research. An organization may learn important details about its market position and target market, for instance, by performing marketing research. Additionally, it offers crucial information on demographics and how to focus marketing budgets. Nevertheless, fewer than 40% of marketers let customer research guide their choices.
What is marketing research?
Marketing research is the act of gathering and evaluating information from customers and rivals to assist businesses in discovering who their target customer is and what they are looking for in a brand. Additionally, Good marketing research may examine possible development areas and offer information on the efficacy of marketing initiatives. A company's complete marketing strategy, from creating brand awareness to securing brand loyalists, is covered by marketing research.
Businesses gather consumer data for marketing research to determine the target market for a product and the most effective ways to promote it. To achieve this, they collect consumer input using focus groups, phone interviews, social media tracking, product surveys, and consumer observation. An organization may also do a competitor study to evaluate market share and see how it compares to the opposition.
The 6 steps in the marketing process
The goal of the market research process is to provide a complete picture of a company's marketing strategy, highlighting its strengths and limitations. Identifying the issue or the topic your study is attempting to address comes first in the marketing research process. Next comes creating a research strategy to address that issue, gathering and evaluating the data, and finally delivering a report.
1. Identify the opportunity
Identifying the issue you're trying to tackle is the first step. To achieve your research goals, asking particular questions can help you identify the most urgent requirements or highlight the greatest potential. In this early phase, you can have the following queries:
- Are our prices too high?
- Why are sales lower than last quarter?
- How can we turn them into repeat customers?
- How can we make our checkout flow more efficient?
- How many of our recent buyers are first-time customers?
- Why do customers put items in their shopping cart but don’t complete the purchase?
2. Develop a research plan
A business can explain how to locate the solutions to the issues or concerns it wants to address using a marketing research strategy. The available money, the research technique selected to gather data, and the project's scope will all affect how you organize and design this research.
Primary research and secondary research are the two primary research techniques you may utilize to get your data. Each compiles data from several sources to offer a precise overview of your marketing research plan.
- Primary research. Primary research is acquiring unique data through techniques like surveys or in-person interviews, then putting that material together into a report. It may be one of the greatest approaches to precisely get the answers to your queries, even though it could be time-consuming and expensive.
- Secondary research. Collecting and combining information from other sources, such as books, websites, or government documents, is known as secondary research data. Since secondary data is typically more readily available and less expensive, it is where most research initiatives begin. The knowledge you gained from secondary data may be used to guide your primary research strategy.
The size and cost of the strategy will probably affect how quickly the study is completed. For instance, gathering the necessary data for a smaller sample size could just take a few weeks, but it can take months (and more money) for a bigger, more involved research effort.
3. Collect the data
It's crucial to begin information gathering after setting goals. You may collect data using a variety of approaches by using different sources of information.
- Surveys: A survey is a useful primary research technique that may offer insightful input regarding commercial practices, marketing strategies, and product demand. Unbiased survey research can be useful in eliciting the opinions and sentiments of a certain group.
- A/B testing: This research approach analyses two or more iterations of a variable—for example, the A and B versions of the same website's layout—to gather data on which would provide the best results and increase customer engagement. In this case, the objective may be to determine which website receives more direct traffic to boost the number of monthly visitors.
- Social media polling: A social media poll may be an efficient and affordable approach to getting consumer information. By surveying existing and future consumers, your business may gain feedback from your target market that will influence how it curates its goods and user interfaces.
- Interviews: Companies can evaluate customer expectations of a brand by conducting in-person or telephone interviews. Participants in these interviews could be asked things such as, “How long have you been a customer?” Alternatively, why did you pick this brand over the rival?
- Focus groups: Focus groups are used to acquire non-numerical (qualitative) information on a certain product or service from a chosen group of individuals based on demographics, purchasing patterns, or other variables. Focus groups enable moderators to elicit a range of viewpoints and sentiments from participants to better understand how potential (or existing) consumers feel about a certain product or service.
4. Analyze your data
Data analysis is a method for spotting trends or patterns that may have influenced a company's success in the market. The answers to your first research queries are provided through data analysis, which converts raw numbers into understandable information.
You may examine data using four major forms of analysis:
- Descriptive analytics: Descriptive analytics refers to analysis tools that, for instance, present data in charts and graphs so you can understand the larger picture. This kind of research gives a glimpse of performance in terms of metrics like page views or unique users.
- Diagnostic analytics: You may identify a problem's “cause and effect” by using analysis tools that offer more than a broad perspective. For instance, you should look into why the number of people visiting your website has dropped by 15% over the past six months. Are there too many pop-up windows making it more challenging for visitors to browse the website, or is the page load time too long, causing consumers to leave and visit another one?
- Predictive analytics: Predictive analytics helps businesses create predictive models based on historical data to more precisely anticipate future events. For instance, your ecommerce company may require additional solutions to assist handle greater online traffic around this time of year if data indicates a link between the start of the school year and increased garment sales.
- Prescriptive analytics: To assist businesses in determining the optimal course of action, this analytics solution integrates descriptive, diagnostic, and predictive analytics techniques. Prescriptive analytics may help prescribe a remedy, such as locating web hosting plans that enhance site capacity to handle increasing online traffic, if, for instance, predictive analytics reveals that apparel sales increase at the start of the school year.
5. Present your results
You may create a research report to highlight your important results once you've completed the research and data analysis. Your report can be delivered as a slideshow, an illustrated book, a movie, or an interactive dashboard that enables visitors to see the data in a variety of ways. The importance of making the material understandable and accessible should be highlighted.
Marketing research papers should at the very least address the issues your study set out to answer and include important company-specific information such as customer profiles, target audience purchasing patterns, and market rivals. Additionally, reports generally include “real people” comments combined with graphics, such as charts and graphs, to illustrate the study findings. You want to construct a narrative about actual people, their behavior, and their goals, not just a list of data (as they pertain to the company or product). Additionally, the report must outline how the company should modify its strategy to improve its marketing and better target its customers.
How you came to these findings is additional information that should be included in your report. What research techniques did you employ? What was the time frame? What was the size of the sample groups? Share the report's findings once it has been completed with all relevant parties, including the marketing team, corporate management, and any other individuals this suggested change in approach may have an impact on, such as engineering.
6. Incorporate your findings
After you've presented your facts, it's important to create concrete plans that incorporate your conclusions, whether that means creating entirely new tactics or tweaking those that already exist. Some conclusions may lead to significant changes in your marketing strategies or little adjustments that can help you enhance your company strategy as a whole.
For instance, you might need to revamp your whole social media strategy if your marketing report indicates that maintaining a younger audience is a problem. Or, you could simply require a minor adjustment, such as providing more advertisements via social media accounts to encourage current youthful clients to continue doing business with you. Your data won't remain relevant in an ever-changing industry forever, so putting your information to use will help you enhance your business when it matters most.