The Ultimate Guide to Market Research Methodologies

April 12, 2019

Today’s business decision maker has an abundance of marketing research methods available to them. Understanding what market research is and how best to use research methodologies to your advantage is vital in reaching your target customers and increasing ROI. 

First, it’s important to establish the two types of market research, qualitative and quantitative, in order to gain a better understanding of the various marketing research methodologies. 

Qualitative research is an exploratory type of research, designed to gain a deeper insight into underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations of a consumer. Qualitative research allows your target audience to answer questions like:


  • How did this commercial make you feel?

  • What do you like most about X product?

  • Why are you more likely to buy X product over Y?


Quantitative research is a statistical type of research, used to quantify and answer objectives by generating numerical data. For example, an organization can conduct a customer satisfaction survey to collect statistical data on their brand, through the opinion of their customers. 


The customer satisfaction survey can measure:


  • Product quality

  • Pricing 

  • Customer experience 


Determining what market research method is best used to uncover your key business objectives is no simple task. In this guide, we will define various types of marketing research methodologies as well as the advantages and disadvantages one must consider before selecting a research method. 

Use this guide to uncover the pros and cons of various types of marketing research methods, to understand what methodologies will best address your business questions. 


What are online surveys?
Online surveys are a form of quantitative research aimed to gain feedback and insight on a specific objective. Web surveys are designed, programmed, and administered – you guessed it – online.


With the rise of technology, most surveys online are equipped to be taken on smart phones and tablets as well. 


Advantages of surveys online 
A major benefit of conducting surveys online is reaching a mass audience at low costs and in little time. Traditional survey methods like phone or mail often require a large budget to achieve successful and accurate results. 


An organization can obtain quick feedback from customers with a web based questionnaire at little to no cost. With plenty of free online survey tools, organizations can create, send and receive results all in a matter of days. 


Respondents may be more opt to provide honest feedback with online surveys as well. Being that there is no moderator or interviewer, survey participants feel more inclined to offer up raw emotions and opinions on a company, products, or services. This eliminates any bias injected by an interviewer. 


Get the answers you need to help grow your business at a low cost. Check out this list of free online survey platforms.


Online survey disadvantages 
As much as technology has progressed through the years, it’s nowhere near perfect. Technical mishaps happen every day and online surveys are no exception. 


A poor user experience associated with technical problems such as a slow page load time, or worse timing out, can subsequently affect the online survey data. Unfortunately, these online glitches aren’t always apparent at first sight. Significant errors within online platform often don’t show up until the survey results are complete. 


It’s also a good rule of thumb to keep your online surveys short and sweet. Unless informed otherwise, participants are less likely to stay fully engaged for a survey that takes more than 10 minutes to complete. With little real-estate, it’s difficult to obtain detailed answers to key business questions. 


What are phone surveys?
Phone surveys began as a core market research methodology decades ago and still prove to be in the forefront of market research methodologies.


This form of qualitative or quantitative research centers around collecting deeper feedback from a two-way active communication between the interviewer and respondents. 


Phone survey advantages 
The advantage of conducting a phone survey lies in the high quality of data it provides. As opposed to other market research methodologies, phone surveys allow for an active and personable conversation between the interviewer and participant. 


In comparison to online surveys, interviewers are able to receive additional feedback from respondents. In other words, you are at the mercy of how much or how little participants are going to answer a question online – whereas phone surveys allow interviewers to ask respondents to explain their answer in greater detail. 


Respondents are more likely to answer the questions in greater detail because it takes less time to voice your opinion than it would be to type or write. 


Phone surveys are also at no mercy of locale. Especially with the move from landline to mobile phones, phone survey companies are able to connect with respondents whether they are traveling, on their lunch break, taking a walk outside, etc. 




Phone survey disadvantages 
Where phone surveys may provide high quality and immediate results, it is not as cost effective or time efficient as other market research methodologies. Phone survey companies must collect a long list of participants to speak to, to then spend hours having detailed conversations or leaving voicemails. 


Phone surveys may also be constrained by time. This meaning, phone survey participants will likely only be available to speak outside of business hours. Other factors such as taking care of children, going to the gym, running errands can limit the available time respondents have to complete a phone survey. 



What are mail surveys?

Emails, text messages, voicemails. Our inboxes are flooded with them. What about physical mail? What once was labeled as an antiquated form of communication, mail surveys are back with a vengeance. 


Mail surveys are a quantitative marketing research data collection method in which respondents complete questionnaires on paper and return them via the mail. 


Mail survey advantages 
Depending on the industry, say banks and credit unions, businesses cannot reach their audience through online outlets due to organizational restrictions. Mail surveys offer a personalized, credible solution to this problem.


Direct mail surveys also earn a good response rate. Where most think direct mailers receive a 1-2% response rate, a mail survey company like Drive Research has seen an average response rate of 10-15%. When potential participants actually open and hold the mail survey in their hands, many will opt to reply. 


An email or online survey is much easier to ignore. 


Mail surveys may seem like an archaic methodology, but they do offer some intriguing benefits. Learn about conducting this type of research with a mail survey company.

Mail survey disadvantages 
Before you run to the post office, it should be noted that the average data quality and time invested in mail surveys deter non-restricted industries from choosing this market research methodology. 


When choosing to participate in mail surveys, respondents are less likely to provide detailed answers as they would on the phone or online because it takes less time to talk or type a response, then it is to write one. 


The process behind conducting mail surveys can be long and strenuous. Only after you create and format the survey for mail, return for postage, fill and send the direct mail piece, and finally wait for responses to return are you able to start entering data. 


Pro tip: Use a mail survey company 
Are you intrigued by the advantages of conducting a mail survey, but don’t have the time required for a successful study? When partnering with a mail survey company