Market research. It's an expertise much like any art or science that can take years or decades to master. In order to truly evolve and improve your skills in the arena you need to be immersed in it each each and every day. Not dabble once every few months a couple times a year. It's really no different than any other skill.
If you shot 100 free throws each day for 365 days a year you will get better at shooting free throws. If you are a digital marketer and engulfed yourself in paid search (SEM) campaigns for 8-hours a day, 5 days a week, you'll learn quickly. The same is true for market research. If you are writing surveys, programming surveys, fielding surveys, managing analysis, and writing reports 40+ hours a week, you will get better. It just happens.
Jumping in head first and trying to run a successful market research project or online survey can be very challenging. Much is dependent on the type of study you are completing, the audience you are reaching, and the objectives you need to address.
Sometimes you get in over your head and you're not sure where to turn. You're left wondering how you got there. But these warning signs are easy to see early on in market research. So keep your eyes open for these. Here are 4 warning signs your market research will fail.
Here are 4 warning signs to watch out for in market research. If you don't heed these and make adjustments you might find yourself in over your head (or 6 feet under).
Warning Sign 1: Hyper Specific Audience
In order to run a successful market research project you need an audience. You need an available pool of people willing to offer feedback both qualitatively and quantitatively. Let's say you wanted to conduct a survey with your customers and you have 100 of them. If you are looking to obtain 90 completed surveys from 100 people it's very unlikely. Response rates this high are very uncommon and are nearly impossible.
Another example is requesting too many completed surveys from a very small geography. If you are trying to obtain responses from only a few ZIP Codes or a county with a relatively small population, you should steer away from requiring a large number of completes such as 500 to 1,000+.
The final example is targeting an audience that is very difficult to reach. Let's say you are looking to collect survey to obtain feedback from left-handed males with red hair, who live in Tennessee, work as an Engineer, and have a household income of $500,000+. If your recruitment criteria is too narrow, your market research is doomed, particularly if you are pursuing something quantitatively.
You've been warned.
Warning Sign 2: Waiting Until Last Minute
Time is important in market research. A well laid-out strategy and plan allows a market research team to hammer out objectives, draft a strong survey, program it to perfection, conduct a soft-launch, and monitor data as it rolls in to make adjustments. If any one of these steps are skipped or rushed it can be detrimental to the market research.
If you need results by a certain date for a marketing plan, product launch, or new strategy, make sure you allow ample time for the market research. It is true that some research can be conducted in as little as 48 to 72 hours but the scope is small and manageable (e.g. short survey, broad audience, and limited reporting).
If you have a large study that can take a month or more to complete under normal circumstances it becomes nearly impossible to speed up the pace and complete it in less than a week. It's easier with online survey options but if your market research involves any type of mail or phone component, it is nearly impossible.
Waiting until last minute to take action on market research raises a red flag and is a big warning sign that the market research will fail.
You've been warned.
Warning Sign 3: Your Survey is Too Long
At Drive Research, we are strong believers in short, concise, and to-the-point surveys. Why use an extra word or sentence if it's not needed? Why ask a question if you will not use the data? If we have to limit ourselves to 15 and only 15 questions which of these 25 objectives are most important? Narrowing and shortening the surveys starts with narrowing the goals and objectives to make them well-defined.
Survey length is all about perspective. As a market researcher wouldn't we all love to ask 50 questions and have hundreds of respondents answer all 50 of them in great detail? These respondents would offer great depth and the survey experience would likely be the best 30 minutes of their life. Right? Sound too good to be true? It is.
That's what we want, not what the respondent wants.
We find respondents are often very willing to voice their opinion and offer feedback if it's quick and there is something in it for them. The incentive can be a gift card or reward, or it can just be a topic that is relevant or about their local community. Our market research firm finds that people are willing to share a minute, 3-minutes, and even up to 5-minutes of their time. In the market research world, that is 15 questions, not 50.
Market research is marrying your objectives with the needs of respondents. As a market research professional you cannot do your job without their feedback. So you need to make the survey short, relevant, and concise in order to encourage engagement and response. All perspectives matter to us. It's one of our core 4 values.
Those professionals who write 50 to 100 question surveys lack the perspective of those that matter most in market research. The respondents themselves.
You've been warned.
Warning Sign 4: The Topic is Highly Toxic
When conducting market research, make sure it's a topic that is politically correct. Although some topics can generate a lot of interest and discussion (both good and bad) it often overshadows the market research. For example, surveys about politics are often viewed as biased regardless of whether the survey writing company is objective or not. You'll likely be alienating 50% of your audience. If these surveys are shared on social media it could create backlash and firestorm around your brand.
If your survey touches on any number of these topics be careful of how you collect feedback (panel, social media, phone calls, etc.) A highly controversial topic could lead to mass sharing of the post and stuffing of the ballot boxes to jade the results.
You've been warned.
Contact Our Market Research Firm
Drive Research is a market research firm located in Upstate New York. We serve clients across the country with their market research needs. Our services include online surveys, focus groups, and intercept surveys, among others.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 315-303-2040 for a quote or proposal.