Why Use Surveys to Do Market Research?

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At the end of the day, all successful businesses do one thing extremely well — they give their customers what they want. And the best way of finding out what customers want? That’s easy! All you have to do is ask.

Surveys are a market-research tool that allow you to talk directly to your customers. Here are three common types of market research surveys:

  • Brand awareness survey
  • Product or service feedback
  • Concept testing or needs testing

A brand awareness survey is a method of testing the effectiveness of your advertising campaign. Your objective should be to discover if your marketing efforts are worth the amount you spend on each campaign. You can find out if your target audience has actually seen your ads and ask them for feedback on the ads themselves. It’s possible to do a survey before an ad campaign starts and then use customer feedback to aid the ad creation process.

Product or service feedback is one of the simplest types of market research you can do with a survey. The aim is to discover what users think of your product or service and identify any weaknesses you might need to iron out. You can also discover a product’s strengths, which might inform your marketing efforts.

Lastly, we have concept testing. Perhaps the most difficult form of survey to master, concept testing is when you test the customer reaction to a new or theoretical product. It can help you decide if a product idea might be commercially viable — if it’s worth building a prototype of a product or even mass producing a prototype.

The difficulty with this type of survey is that many people — including your target audience — aren’t that great at answering hypothetical questions. What sounds good on paper might be unappealing in the real world. One way to avoid these issues is instead to focus on the needs of your customers. You can use survey data to find unsolved problems and then your research team can consider potential solutions.

What’s the Difference between Primary Market Research and Secondary Market Research?

It’s worth being aware of the difference between primary market research and secondary market research. Simply put, secondary market research is research that has been conducted by someone else. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to — it’s always worth checking if there’s existing survey data that can meet your needs before you build a survey of your own.

Primary market research is new data — including survey data — that has not been collected before. The obvious advantage of primary market research is that you have complete control over the data being collected and it can be customised to your business needs.

Advantages of Using Surveys to Conduct Market Research

What are the advantages of using surveys to conduct market research? And why can surveys succeed where other forms of market research fail? There are three main advantages to using surveys:

  • Learn more about your target audience.
  • Listen to the language of your target audience.
  • Analyse your service and product from a non-partisan perspective.

The most compelling advantage of a survey is the fact that you can target a very small section of the population — your target audience. Actually, if you’ve not yet developed a target audience, it’s well worth using a broader survey to discover which people have the need for your product. Sometimes there are subpopulations using products or services in ways not fully intended or understood even by the product’s manufacturer!

Effective marketing must be targeted according to your audience. Surveys are one of the best methods of learning more about your target audiences.

Another advantage of surveys is that they enable you to listen to the language of your customers. Businesses are, almost by definition, made up of experts. If you work on a product every day for months or even years, you come to have a far greater understanding of that product than the typical person. But you’ll also pick up the “jargon” of your industry and start using terms that are not well understood by the general population — even though they may seem like common knowledge to you.

Your customers will, for the most part, be non-experts and talk about your product in a broad, accessible language that makes sense to everyone. This kind of language is extremely valuable to businesses and can be used in advertising assets or on ad copy.

Lastly, surveys can help you analyse a product’s strengths and weaknesses from a non-partisan perspective. When you’ve spent years working on a product or service, it’s natural to become defensive. We’ve all been guilty of downplaying someone else’s criticism of one of our passion projects! Evaluating survey feedback (usually) enables your target audience to give feedback on your work, including criticisms where appropriate. There’s no denying the fact that this can be painful, but it’s an essential step in building the best possible product or service.

How to Create a Survey That Will Enable You to Do Market Research

We’ve divided the survey process into seven broad steps. These steps will act as a useful framework and help keep your objectives in mind when working through the survey process.

  1. What problem are you trying to solve?
  2. Who’s your target audience?
  3. Organise your resources (both time and budget)
  4. Set your survey
  5. Analyse your results
  6. Present your results to decision makers
  7. Think about the actions you could take as a result of the survey outcome

By starting with the problem you are trying to solve, you can steer your survey in the right direction. Don’t just run a survey because everyone else is running them! Start with a simple, specific, solvable statement and work backwards from there. Example problems that you might want to solve:

  • How much is my target audience willing to pay for this product?
  • Does our current branding appeal to our target audience?
  • Is our current marketing campaign reaching our target audience?

Next, consider the target audience for your survey. Remember that a single product can have a number of different target audiences or segments. And if you’ve not yet found your target audience, you can use a broad survey to find out which demographic groups are into your product.

Organise your resources before starting a survey. Consider how long it will take to collect the results and analyse them, and then leave a generous window of time in which you can resolve any issues that arise. Also, consider your budget. As a general rule, you’ll get more accurate results with a bigger budget, but everyone has finite resources. You’ll need to think about the best way of allocating these resources.

Once you’ve written, set and checked your survey, you may want to run a small test survey first. It’s usually pretty obvious — even with a small sample — if a survey is going to produce some meaningful results. If not, you might want to make some changes.

When the results are in, take your time and properly analyse the results. Look at how the results break down by age group, gender and location. Check any surprises to see if they might be caused by a methodological error before jumping to conclusions.

If you are the person in charge of the business, then great! You can get to work immediately on any insights revealed by the survey data. But oftentimes the person running a survey will need to present their data to a decision maker. This step can be crucial — often the difference between getting buy-in from a big team and getting no support whatsoever — so make sure your data is presented in a way that’s visually clear and compelling.

Things to Keep in Mind When Writing Survey Questions

We’ve included three final tips for writing your survey questions:

  • Write questions in plain English.
  • Don’t make questions (or surveys) any longer than they need to be.
  • Avoid leading questions and scan your survey for biases.

Plain English doesn’t mean dumbing down your language. On the contrary, writing that’s crisp, clear and free of waffle is always stylish. Remember that your survey will go to a large number of people with diverse backgrounds and educations, so using plain English is a must if you want meaningful and representative responses.

On a similar note, respect your survey taker’s time and cut any questions that you don’t honestly need to know the answer to. If a survey is so long that people start to lose patience with it, they’ll look for the quickest way to complete the survey rather than give you honest feedback.

Lastly, check that you haven’t included leading questions. It’s very easy to — accidentally or on purpose — manipulate a survey so that you get certain kinds of responses. One example of this is “priming”, but it’s worth being aware of other biases like the “availability bias” and “anchoring”.

Ready to do some market research with surveys? Contact the SurveyGoo team to discuss your survey idea today!

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