I'll admit, market research may look simple to someone who has never done it before. Ask a few questions, get some answers, and unlock game-changing insights. This belief is probably why we see many people turn to do-it-yourself (DIY) market research tools online or through software.
As someone who eats, sleeps, and breathes market research each day, I can't in good conscious say it will be easy to complete it on your own. That said, I have a few suggestions on how to best go about your own market research effort.
Below I cover four common mistakes that the unsuspecting market research DIYer is bound to make. Give these pitfalls some thought before diving into your own study to make a decision with confidence.
Doing market research for yourself can be a tricky process. Watch out for these four common mistakes as a result of relying on DIY tools for your next market research project.
Mistake #1: The questions don't support the objectives
Writing questions for a online survey or an interview guide can be exciting process when you are invested in the results. There's so much you can learn from your customers or the market as a whole!
The trouble here is you are working with limited real estate in a survey and a diminishing attention span of respondents. If you try to pose too many questions, the respondent may lose interest. Furthermore, the data you receive is more likely to lack focus on the underlying objectives of the study.
In a well-designed survey, every question should have a clear purpose. It's important to ask yourself if a question is out of scope for that particular study. If it is, maybe save it for another market research initiative down the road.
At the end of the day, you need to plan, plan, and then plan some more. Hash out all the details before you start, such as project objectives, timeline, cost, and resources.
Mistake #2: Bias of the being the first-party
It is tempting to seek full control of the market research project. You can call all the shots and save on the management fees of a third party company. However, there are hidden costs to being the first-party.
When you are fully responsible for writing the survey or interview questions and are simultaneously the subject of the survey, there is a risk of bias within the study. You may be asking leading questions to respondents without even realizing it. A leading question is worded in such a way that the respondent is influenced to answer the question unnaturally.
From the respondent's perspective, they may answer questions dishonestly if they know that your company is the sponsor of the research. In a DIY market research scenario, however, you don't have the ability to run a blinded survey. A blinded survey does not disclose the sponsor of the research to the respondent in order to prevent bias.
Another consequence of administering a survey yourself is a potential lack of trust with the results among internal stakeholders. At no fault of your own, all the work you put into a market research effort may be questioned just because there is a conflict of interest. Using a third-party with previous experience may instill more confidence in those who will be relying on the results of the study.
Mistake #3: Leaving out important details
After executing dozens of market research projects, I can tell you that I can still find myself letting a project detail slip through the cracks despite my best efforts. I mean, hey, I'm human. Thankfully, I have a brilliant team to make sure the work is complete before we call the project a wrap.
This experience makes me leery of someone attempting a DIY market research study for the first time. Even for a basic study, there are numerous moving pieces to the process that require close management. Just about any study will have needs for recruiting or sample sourcing to find participants. Programming, testing and proofing a survey will also require diligence.
Be prepared to have a plan for managing fieldwork, checking your data, and running an analysis before you can even think about the results. Other easy to forget components include incentives for the research participants or cleaning your data of poor quality responses.
Ironically, you need to do some research before you can do the actual research you want. Study up on the market research best practices and standard procedures to give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.
Mistake #4: Settling for limited capabilities
A common theme among the free or more accessible market research tools is a lack of options. You get what you pay for (or don't pay for in some cases).
For the design phase of the market research project, you may be limited to only asking a certain number of questions. For example, if you try to tackle all of your objectives in the 10 question limit, there's a good chance you could be compromising the research. Don't anticipate much customization in the look and layout of the survey, as well.
When it comes time to analyze the data that you've gathered, DIY tools also leave a lot to be desired. Don't be surprised to be given capabilities that only scratch the surface. Many platforms will only display the data in total, while others may only allow you to export the responses for external analysis. In other words, don't expect a convenient walk-through for how to get the most out of the data.
If this is a one-time or short term initiative, it wouldn't make sense to invest in the pricey license for the full version of a market research platform. This is where outside help from a market research company would really demonstrate its value.
Drive Research is a market research company located in Syracuse, NY. Our team takes the weight of a market research study off the shoulders of clients every day. Let us handle the dirty work so you can focus on using the insights for your business.
Interested in learning more about our market research services? Contact us.