How to Conduct Market Research for Your Company
Small businesses need informative market data to understand their customers, create value for them and generate more business from them. A small business can do a fair amount of market research on its own by putting together information through various means to estimate customer needs and identify areas for future growth. If a subscription to a database on your market is cost-prohibitive, or if market data simply doesn’t exist because you are offering a product/service that hasn’t been thoroughly analyzed before, then knowing how to conduct your own market research can be invaluable.
Mine Online Analytics
Google Analytics is the standard for any business with a website. Analytics tracks page visits, how long people spent there, what information they requested and what items they purchased. Demographics inside Google Analytics track age, gender and interests of audience segments, as well as their locations. Interests are aggregated from Google search tools and tell you whether the people coming to the site have interests relevant to your offerings. By observing this online behavior, you can glean that main customer groups have distinct characteristics and are reachable through distinct routes. The goals function of Google Analytics can tell whether clickthroughs came from email, paid online ads or social media. With information on what draws the most interest, your business can evaluate its best customers or prospects to give them what they want, building content/products/services for those specific groups.
Pick Up The Phone
Market research can be as informal as calling 20 of your customers and asking specific questions—about customer satisfaction, how they rank product/service features or how to improve a product/service in a way that’s better than what your competitors offer. Online customer surveys and industry trade conferences are also good opportunities to talk to people about their usage/replacement plans or to get a baseline for what they are willing to pay for new products/services. Use these methods to explore what motivates people, test new ideas or surface customer concerns.
Do Environmental Scanning
Gauge customer interest without much expense by using social media to follow and study trends and learn what people are saying about particular products or services. Trade and industry associations and online publications may supply general demographics and population estimates in your specific market, along with lifestyle and economic data. This information may be available to you (but also your competitors) at minimal charge.
Buy Market Research
If the available information is too generalized or not directly relevant to the questions you want answered about who might want the products or services you are selling, then consider commissioning research from an outside firm. If your small business plans a roll-out nationally and needs in-depth findings on target customers in a much bigger market, or you want to confirm that your own research findings aren’t biased, hiring an expert researcher may be worthwhile. Research firms specializing in specific industries or assigned markets have access to many market participants and multiple research techniques at their disposal.