Business marketing

Five tips for planning a market research project

- June 17, 2017 2 MIN READ

There are many online software packages available these days that make it easy for small businesses to do their own market research quickly and cheaply. However, to ensure your data is accurate and meaningful, your market research project will require careful business planning and execution.

The following five tips will help you plan your project like a pro.

1. Identify your market research project objectives

Write down everything you want to learn from your research study. For example, if testing a new product, your objectives might be to find out:

  • How many people find this product appealing?
  • Which segments find the product most useful?
  • How does it compare to competitor offerings?
  • What need does it fulfil?
  • How many are likely to buy the product?
  • What is my customer profile?

Once you have set your objectives it becomes clear what questions you need to ask.

2. Set your success criteria before you start interviewing

Success criteria are the results you want to obtain in order to make your decisions. An example of success criteria is: If 75 per cent of segment X say they are likely to buy, we will develop this product. Also, by thinking about your success criteria before you start, you are more likely to stick to it once the results come in.

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3. Plan how you will analyse your data and report your findings

The way you write your questions will shape what information you receive and, as a result, dictate what sort of analysis you can perform on the data once interviewing is complete. Before writing your survey, think about the data you need and what questions will help you obtain that data.

4. Keep your surveys short

How many times have you taken a survey that seems to drag on, one tedious question after another? When faced with a long questionnaire, respondents are likely to either abandon it or else click anything to finish it quicker and reach the incentive at the other end. To avoid this, keep your survey short and easy to answer.

Online surveys should not take any longer than 5–10 minutes. The exact length of time a respondent will spend completing a survey depends on a number of things, such as: are they a customer or not, are you offering an incentive, or is your subject matter interesting.

5. Invest in a pro version of a software plan

This is fairly important if you are making costly decisions based on your data. A pro version will allow you to use ‘skip logic’; that is, the ability to skip respondents past questions that are not relevant to them. This will lead to more accurate data and will shorten the questionnaire.

Using a pro version also gives you a lot more options in terms of the number of surveys you can do and the types of reports you can run.

Market research can be a very powerful tool for decision-making purposes; however it does require careful planning to ensure your findings are accurate.

Do you conduct your own market research? How do you plan your market research projects?