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Market research is an important aspect of maintaining competitive business strategy. The less you understand about your target market, the more you will struggle to connect with them. 

With this piece, we’ll explore the ins-and-outs of market research, including how it works, its benefits, and what you can do to get started. 

What is Market Research?

Market research is the process of gathering information about a target audience — who they are, their interests, and what they think about your business. Market research can help you better understand how big your market is, its current needs, and how you can best connect with your audience.

There are many ways to conduct market research. It can be conducted in-house or by an outside agency that specializes in market research. Businesses can choose from a variety of techniques, including focus groups, customer surveys, and data analysis. 

What is Market Research Used For? 

Usually, marketing pros will use market research to determine the viability of a product or service. The information gathered during research can be used to track spending habits, how likely your target audience is to share your content, and more.

Through market research, you can build better user experience, gather quality feedback about your product or services, improve your customer service, and find better ways to deliver your message.

Benefits of Market Research

Knowing who your target audience is the foundation of attracting loyal users and customers. The better you can deliver your message, the easier it is to get conversions, shares, reviews, and more.

Analytics and data can show you what your audience cares about, but research gives you the why

“Why?” is the most powerful question in marketing. It indicates the motivations and needs that drive sales. It’s important to understand why a customer purchases a specific product or service.

If you can find a person’s “why” and connect with it emotionally you can grow some fierce brand loyalty.

For example, think about popular soft drinks: Coke vs. Pepsi. Is there really much difference between the two beverages or their branding? Why do people prefer Coke over Pepsi, or the other way around?

Market research works with data, not assumptions or guesses. Even if you think you have your target audience all figured out, market research can confirm or expand your hunches about your market. 

Types of Market Research

If you’re ready to take on market research, a good place to start is considering what kind of market research you’d like to conduct. There are two notable types of market research: primary and secondary. 

Primary Market Research

Primary market research is the research that you conduct on your own. All data or information included here is generated by your own efforts and resources. 

There are two kinds of data you can collect: 

  • Qualitative: Qualitative data refers to data that isn’t measured, like people’s likes, dislikes, and emotions. Interviews and discussion groups will give you qualitative data. You likely wouldn’t use an algorithm or equation to figure out this kind of data.
  • Quantitative: Quantitative data is generated from numbers — like pageviews, survey results, and social media followers. You can gather and analyze this data to produce charts and graphs.

Types of Primary Research

There are four main kinds of Primary Research you can conduct:

  1. Surveys: Surveys ask “yes” or “no” questions to gather quantitative data from respondents. You’ll need to be specific about what kind of data you want to collect before you develop your survey questions. The good news is surveys are easy to execute — but they’re just as easy to ignore or misunderstand, which can lead to poor results. 
  2. Interviews: Interviews are a good chance to earn 1-on-1 interactions with your audience while gathering qualitative data. Much like surveys, you’ll need to think strategically about your questions. When secured, interviews offer a wealth of feedback, but they’re often time-sensitive and difficult to repeat.
  3. Focus Groups: With focus groups, you can invite as many respondents into one session. Much like interviews, you can earn heaps of honest feedback here, and further moderate conversations with your audience. However, focus groups require more time and resources to find and connect with quality respondents.
  4. Observation: Observation sessions may include monitoring a user as they interact with your product, website, or services. You’ll be using your own eyes to gather any feedback, so this type really depends on your real-time analysis. Observation can offer accurate, natural examples of how your audience interacts with your business. You’ll need to be sure to select a wide range of participants to ensure you’re receiving accurate feedback.

Secondary Market Research

This is commonly known as research that already exists or is conducted by someone else. 

You can gather data from public resources, including company reports, government agencies, and libraries. Most secondary research is done online.

Because the data is already available to you, secondary research may require much less effort, time, and resources to collect than primary research. You’ll have much more data sources to choose from. 

However, you’ll need to ensure that the data you collect is valid, accurate, and reliable. You may not always have access to your source’s methodologies or techniques. 

Best Market Research Tools for Beginners

There are a range of market research tools available to beginners. Our Market Explorer tool can be an excellent first step for professionals interested in generating qualitative data for the first time, or for veterans interested in a new way to conduct their market research strategies. 

The Market Explorer tool presents a visual overview of the current market in your selected country. You’ll be able to explore the demographics of your competitor’s audience, determine how your competitors earn their traffic, and estimate your market share.

The Market Explorer tool can offer valuable competitive analysis, which can better inform your market research efforts as you move forward.

Key insights to consider include:

  • Industry Competitors vs. Organic Competitors: This feature can help you identify general industry players or those that rank closest to you organically. 

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  • Traffic Generation Strategy: You can use this feature to measure your competitor’s traffic generation strategy by direct, referral, search, social, and paid traffic.

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  • Domain vs. Market: Audience: Use this widget to compare your competitor’s audience demographic to that of the market. 

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  • GEO Distribution: Here, you can review the global distribution of your market, and the top countries that contribute traffic to your selected sites.

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To work with these metrics further, you can try our guide to conducting market analysis in less than 60 minutes

Key Takeaways

Market research is vital for creating effective business strategy. No matter the budget, you can always benefit from conducting some kind of market research.

Don’t be afraid to get out there and discover more about your audience. Use your resources to gather the qualitative and quantitative data you need to better understand your market and your position within it.

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