Market research is an essential staple of any strong digital marketing strategy. After all, your product or service is designed to fulfil a given need. If you’re not familiar with the people who have this need, you’re not going to do too well at meeting it! If you want to start doing some market research but you’re feeling completely lost, then here are some effective techniques you should be using.
First of all, surveys. By drafting a survey made up of some basic, straightforward questions, you can find out all kinds of handy insights into the way your target market perceives the products or services they pay for. In-person surveys are the more traditional way to go about this, and allow you an extra marketing opportunity, as you’ll have representatives talking directly to your target audience. However, these can be costly and time-consuming. Telephone surveys are another more traditional method, but you may find that a lot of the consumers you’re targeting are extremely hostile to telemarketing and anything that smells like it! Online surveys are probably the most efficient and affordable, but the results can be very erratic if you conduct the survey yourself. Fortunately, there are several services which will do all the hard work for you. For a reasonable fee, you can grab info at Pollfish or another service, and start using it in no time.
Another popular method is using focus groups. In one of these, a designated moderator will read out a series of scripted questions or prompts, and direct a discussion about them within a group of people. Rather than the unpredictable environment of a public survey, focus groups operate in neutral environments, usually blank rooms with a few video cameras, and perhaps a one-way mirror. I know, it sounds like an interrogation. Believe me, the tone’s a lot more friendly. The point is, when people are left to trade notes and debate on a certain part of your business, you can get even deeper insights into how your ideal customer feels about the products or services you’re dangling. There’s a pretty helpful article on setting up focus groups on Chron.
Finally, we have personal interviews. These are something of a middle ground between mass surveys and focus groups. Like focus groups, these are less structured, and open-ended. A typical session will last for about an hour, and be recorded. Compared to surveys, a series of personal interviews will provide your marketing team with much more subjective data. When they’re taken out of the environment of a focus group or public place, many people will also give more honest opinions about the niche your business occupies. The only real issue with personal interviews is the time and money it takes to set them up. Because you have a limited pool of people, the data you collect may be more detailed, but won’t be statistically reliable. This is why personal interviews are usually used in conjunction with another tactic.
If your target audience seems like a complete mystery to you, then try one of these methods now!