Today’s consumers have a lot of power. You can research your product or service and make purchasing decisions all by yourself.
Rather than speaking to any of your sales reps, they are more likely to ask for recommendations from members of their network or read reviews online.
With that in mind, have you adjusted your marketing strategy to complement the way consumers research, shop, and buy today?
To do just that, you need to have a deep understanding of who your buyers are, your specific market, and what drives buying decisions and the behavior of your audience members.
Enter: market research.
Whether you’re new to market research, this guide provides you with a blueprint for a thorough study of your market, target audience, competition, and more.
What is market research?
Market research is the process of gathering information about your company’s buyer personalities, target audience, and customers in order to determine how profitable and successful your product or service would be and / or is among them.
Why market research?
Market research enables you to meet your buyer where he is. As our world (both digital and analog) gets louder and louder and requires more and more attention, this is priceless. Understanding your buyer’s problems, vulnerabilities, and desired solutions can help you tailor your product or service to address them naturally.
Market research also provides insights into a wide variety of things that affect your bottom line, including:
- Where your target group and current customers conduct their product or service research
- Which of your competitors is your target audience looking for information, options, or purchases?
- What is hot in your industry and in the eyes of your buyer?
- Who is your market and what are your challenges?
- What influences purchases and conversions in your target audience?
As you begin to deepen your market research, you will likely learn about primary and secondary market research. The easiest way to think about primary and secondary research is to imagine umbrellas sitting under the market research: one for primary market research and one for secondary market research.
Underneath these two umbrellas are different types of market research that we will highlight below. Defining which of the two umbrellas your market research fits under isn’t necessarily critical, although some marketers prefer the distinction.
So, if you come across a marketer looking to define your market research types as primary or secondary – or if you are one of them – we’ll cover the definitions of the two categories next. Then, we’ll look at the different types of market research in the following section.
Primary and secondary research
There are two main types of market research your company can conduct to gather actionable information about your products, including primary research and desk research.
Primary research is the pursuit of firsthand information about your market and the customers in your market. This is useful when segmenting your market and defining your buyer personalities. Primary market research usually falls into one of two areas: exploratory and specific research.
Primary exploratory research
This type of primary market research is less concerned with measurable customer trends and more with potential issues worth tackling as a team. This is usually done as a first step – before any particular research is done – and can include open ended interviews or surveys with a small number of people.
Specific primary research
Specific primary market research often follows exploratory research and is used to examine issues or opportunities that the company has already identified as important. In specific investigations, the company can take a smaller or more specific part of its target group and ask questions in order to solve a suspected problem.
Desk research includes any data and public records that are available to you to draw conclusions (e.g., trend reports, market statistics, industry content, and sales data you already have about your business). Desk research is especially useful for analyzing your competitors. The most important aspects of your aftermarket research include:
These sources are your first and most accessible layer of material when conducting aftermarket research. They are often free to find and review – good value for your money here.
Government statistics are one of the most common types of public sources, according to Entrepreneur. Two examples of public market data in the US are the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor & Statistics, both of which provide helpful information on the state of various industries across the country.
These sources often come in the form of market reports that consist of industry insights compiled by a research agency such as Pew, Gartner, or Forrester. Because this information is so portable and distributable, it usually costs money to download and get it.
In-house sources deserve more credit for helping market research than they typically get. Why? This is the market data your company already has!
Average revenue per sale, retention rates, and other historical data on the health of old and new accounts can help you draw conclusions about what your buyers currently want.
Now that we’ve covered these overarching categories of market research, let’s dig deeper into the different types of market research you might want to do.
Types of market research
- Focus groups
- Product / service usage research
- Observational Research
- Buyer Persona Research
- Market segmentation research
- Price research
- Competitive Analysis Research
- Customer satisfaction and loyalty research
- Brand awareness research
- Campaign Research
Interviews enable face-to-face discussions (face-to-face and virtual) so that you can facilitate a natural flow or conversation while observing your respondent’s body language.
2. Focus groups
Focus groups provide you with a handful of carefully selected people with whom you can test your product, watch a demo, provide feedback, and / or answer specific questions.
3. Product / service usage research
Product or service usage research provides insight into how and why your target audience is using your product or service, as well as the specific characteristics of that article. This type of market research also gives you an idea of the usefulness of the product or service for your target audience.
4. Observational Research
Observational research allows you to sit back and observe how your audience members are using your product or service, what works well in terms of UX, what obstacles they encounter, and what aspects of it might be easier for them to use and apply.
5. Buyer Persona Research
Buyer personality research gives you a realistic overview of who makes up your target group, what challenges they have, why they want your product or service, what they need from your company and your brand, and much more.
6. Market segmentation research
Market segmentation research allows you to divide your target audience into different groups (or segments) based on specific and defining characteristics. This allows you to identify effective ways to meet their needs, understand their weaknesses and expectations, learn about their goals, and more.
7. Price research
Price research gives you an idea of what similar products or services are being sold in your market for, what your target audience expects and is willing to pay for what you sell, and what a fair price you can get for listing your product or service Service at. All of this information will help you define your pricing strategy.
8. Competitive Analysis
Competitive analysis is valuable because it gives you a deep understanding of the competition in your market and industry. You will learn what is doing well in your industry, what your target audience is already striving for in terms of products like yours, which of your competitors you should work to keep up and outperform, and how you can clearly differentiate yourself from the competition.
9. Customer satisfaction and loyalty research
Customer satisfaction and loyalty research gives you an insight into how you can get current customers to return for more business and what motivates them to do so (e.g. loyalty programs, rewards, remarkable customer service). This research will help you find the most effective ways to add delight to your customers.
10. Brand awareness research
Brand awareness research tells you what your target audience knows about and recognizes about your brand. It lets you know about the associations your viewers make when they think about your business and what you think it is about.
11. Campaign Research
Campaign research involves examining your past campaigns and analyzing their success with your target audience and current customers. It takes experimentation and then a deep dive into what reached and resonated with your audience so that you can keep these elements in mind for your future campaigns and delve into the aspects of your work that are most important to these people are.
Now that you know the categories and types of market research, let’s review how to do your market research.
Here you will learn step by step how to do market research.
How to do market research
- Define your buyer personality.
- Identify a persona group that you want to engage.
- Prepare research questions for your market research participants.
- List your main competitors.
- Summarize your results.
1. Define your buyer personality.
Before delving into how customers make purchasing decisions in your industry, you need to first understand who they are.
This is where your buyer personalities come in. Buyer personalities – sometimes called marketing personalities – are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.
Use a free tool to create a buyer personality that will help your entire business better market, sell, and serve.
They help you visualize your audience, optimize your communication and inform your strategy. Some key traits that you should definitely include in your buyer persona are:
- Job titles)
- Job titles
- Family size
- Big challenges
The idea is to use your persona as a guide to effectively reach and get to know the real-world viewers in your industry. You may also find that your business is suitable for more than one person – that’s fine! You just need to think about each specific person as you tweak and plan your content and campaigns.
Check out these free templates as well as this helpful tool to get started creating your personas.
2. Identify a persona group that you want to engage.
Now that you know who your Buying Personalities are, you can use this information to identify a group that you would like to conduct your market research with. This should be a representative sample of your target customers so that you can better understand their real characteristics, challenges, and issues with their buying habits.
The group you identify to get involved should also be made up of people who have recently made a purchase or have made a deliberate decision not to make one. Here are more guidelines and tips to help you find the right participants for your research.
How to identify the right people to get involved in market research
When choosing who to hire for your market research, first focus on people with the characteristics that apply to your buyer personality. You should also:
Aim for 10 participants per buyer.
We recommend focusing on one person. However, if you feel that there is more than one person to study, be sure to recruit a separate sample group for each person.
Select people who have recently interacted with you.
You may want to focus on people who completed an assessment in the last six months – or up to a year if you have a longer sales cycle or niche market. They will ask very detailed questions so it is important that their experience is fresh.
Gather a mix of attendees.
You want to hire people who bought your product, bought a competitor’s product, and decided not to buy anything. While your customers are the easiest to find and recruit, gathering information from customers who are not (yet!) Customers will help you develop a balanced view of your market.
Here are some more details on choosing this mix of participants:
- Pull out a list of customers who have recently made a purchase. As mentioned earlier, this is usually the easiest group of buyers to recruit. If you are using a CRM system, you can generate a report of deals closed within the last six months and filter it based on the characteristics you want. Otherwise, you can work with your sales team to get a list of the appropriate accounts.
- Pull out a list of customers who were in an active review but did not make a purchase. You should get a mix of buyers who either bought from a competitor or who chose not to make a purchase. You can also get this list in your CRM or whatever system your sales team uses to keep track of business.
- Call to participants on social media. Try to reach out to the people who follow you on social media, but you’ve made up your mind not to buy from you. Chances are some of them will be willing to speak to you and tell you why they ultimately decided not to buy your product.
- Use your own network. Let your co-workers, former co-workers, and LinkedIn employees know you’re doing a study. Even if your direct connections aren’t qualified, some of them likely have a colleague, friend, or family member who does.
- Choose an incentive. Time is precious so you need to think about how to motivate someone to spend 30-45 minutes with you and your studies. On a tight budget? You can reward participants for free by giving them exclusive access to content. Another option? When the study is complete, send a simple handwritten thank you note.
3. Prepare research questions for your market research participants.
The best way to ensure that you are getting the most out of your conversations is to be prepared. You should always create a discussion guide – be it for a focus group, an online survey, or a phone interview – to make sure you cover all of the important issues and use your time wisely.
(Note: This is not a script. Discussions should be natural and chatty. We encourage you to decide, at your own discretion, to decommission certain areas or investigate certain areas.)
Your discussion guide should be in an outline format with a time span and open questions for each section.
Wait, any open questions?
Yes – that’s a golden rule in market research. You never want to “lead the witness” by asking yes and no questions as this puts you at risk of inadvertently influencing your thoughts by leading with your own hypothesis. Asking open-ended questions also helps you avoid one-word answers (which may not be very helpful to you).
Sample overview of a 30-minute survey
Here’s a high-level overview of a 30-minute survey for a B2B buyer. You can use these as discussion points for a face-to-face interview or as questions on a digital form to manage as a survey for your target customers.
Background information (5 minutes)
Ask the buyer to give you some background information (title, how long they have been with the company, etc.). Then ask a fun / simple warm-up question (first concert, favorite restaurant in town, last vacation, etc.).
Remember, there are certain ways you want to get to know your buyers. You may be able to collect basic information like age, location, and job title from your contact list. There are some personal and professional challenges that you can really only learn by asking questions.
Here are some other important background questions to ask your audience:
- Describe how your team is structured.
- Tell me about your personal professional responsibility.
- What are the team’s goals and how do you measure them?
- What was your biggest challenge over the past year?
Now make a transition to confirm the specific purchase or interaction that led them to get them included in the study. The next three stages of the buyer’s journey focus specifically on that purchase.
Awareness (5 minutes)
Here, you want to understand how they first realized they had a problem that needed to be resolved without knowing whether or not they still knew anything about your brand.
- Think back to the time you realized you needed one [name the product/service category, but not yours specifically]. What challenges did you face back then?
- How did you know something in this category could help you?
- How familiar were you with different options in the market?
Reflection (10 minutes)
Now you want to know exactly how and where the buyer looked for possible solutions. Schedule an interjection to ask for more details.
- What was the first thing you did to look for possible solutions? How helpful was this resource?
- Where did you find more information?
If they don’t appear organically, ask about search engines, websites visited, people consulted, etc. Check some of the following questions as appropriate:
- How did you find this source?
- How did you use vendor websites?
- What words did you specifically search for on Google?
- How helpful was it? How could it be better?
- Who provided the most (and the least) helpful information? What was that like?
- Tell me about your experiences with the sellers of each provider.
Decision (10 minutes)
- Which of the sources described above influenced your decision the most?
- If so, what criteria have you established to compare the alternatives?
- Which providers made it onto the shortlist and what advantages and disadvantages did each have?
- Who else was involved in the final decision? What role did each of these people play?
- What factors ultimately influenced your final purchase decision?
Here you want to summarize and understand what could have been better for the buyer.
- Ask them what their ideal buying process would be. How would it be different from what they experienced?
- Take the time to answer further questions.
- Don’t forget to thank them for their time and confirm their address to send a thank you letter or incentive.
4. List your main competitors.
List your main competitors – remember that listing the competition isn’t always as easy as Company X versus Company Y.
Sometimes a department of a company can rival your main product or service, although that company’s brand may put more effort into another area.
For example. Apple is known for its laptops and mobile devices, but Apple Music competes with Spotify for its music streaming service.
From a content standpoint, you could be competing for incoming website visitors with a blog, YouTube channel, or similar publication – even if their products don’t overlap with yours at all.
And a toothpaste company could compete with magazines like Health.com or Prevention on certain blog topics related to health and hygiene, even though the magazines don’t sell oral care products.
Identify industry competitors
To identify competitors whose products or services overlap with yours, determine which industry or industries you are pursuing. Start at a high level with terms like education, construction, media and entertainment, hospitality, healthcare, retail, financial services, telecommunications, and agriculture.
The list goes on, but find an industry term that you identify with and use it to create a list of companies that are also in that industry. You can create your list as follows:
- Check your industry quadrant on G2 Crowd: In certain industries, this is your best first step in aftermarket research. G2 Crowd aggregates user ratings and social data to create “quadrants” in which you can represent companies as competitors, market leaders, niches and top performers in their respective industries. G2 Crowd specializes in digital content, IT services, HR, e-commerce and related business services.
- Download a market report: Companies like Forrester and Gartner offer both free and gated market forecasts each year for the vendors who are leaders in their industries. For example, on the Forrester website, you can select “Latest Research” from the navigation bar and search for the latest Forrester material using a variety of criteria to narrow your search. These reports are good resources to keep on your computer.
- Search via social media: Believe it or not, social networks make great business directories when you use the search bar properly. For example, on LinkedIn, select the search bar and enter the name of the industry you are following. Then select “Companies” under “More” to limit your results to those companies that contain this or a similar industry term on their LinkedIn profile.
Identify content competitors
Search engines are your best friends in this area of aftermarket research. To find the online publications that you are competing with, use the broader industry term you identified in the section above and create a handful of more specific industry terms that your company identifies with.
For example, a catering company may generally be a “food service” company, but may also consider itself a provider of “event catering”, “cake catering”, “baked goods” and more.
When you have this list, do the following:
- Google it: Don’t underestimate the value of searching Google for industry terms that describe your business. You might find a mix of product developers, blogs, magazines, and more.
- Compare your search results with your buyer personality: Do you remember the buyer personality you created in the primary research phase earlier in this article? Use this option to investigate the likelihood that a publication you found through Google is stealing your website traffic. If the content that the website publishes is what your buyer personality wants to see, it is a potential competitor and should be added to your list of competitors.
After a series of similar Google searches for the industry terms you identify yourself with, look for repetitions in the displayed website domains.
Examine the first two or three pages of results for each search you have performed. These sites are clearly respected for the content they create in your industry and should be carefully monitored as you build your own library of videos, reports, web pages, and blog posts.
5. Summarize your results.
Do you feel overwhelmed by the notes you have taken? We recommend looking for general topics that you can use to tell a story and create a list of action items.
To make the process easier, try using your favorite presentation software to generate a report as it will make it easy to add quotes, charts, or call clips.
Feel free to add your own flair, but the following outline should help you create a clear summary:
- Background: Your goals and why you conducted this study.
- Attendees: Who you talked to A spreadsheet works well so you can break up groups by person and customer / prospect.
- Summary: What were the most interesting things you learned? What are you planning to do about it?
- Awareness: Describe the most common triggers that lead someone to participate in a review. (Quotes can be very powerful.)
- Consideration: Include the main topics you uncovered as well as the detailed sources buyers use in completing their review.
- Decision: Draw a picture of how a decision is really made by putting the people at the center of influence and any product features or information that can make or break a deal.
- Action plan: Your analysis has likely uncovered some campaigns you can run to get your brand in front of buyers sooner and / or more effectively. Include your list of priorities, a schedule, and the impact on your business.
Finally, let’s review a resource that will help you put everything we just discussed together in a simple, yet effective way (plus, it’s free!).
Market research report template
Within a market research kit there is a number of critical pieces of information for the success of your company. Let’s take a look at the next kit items.
Pro tip: When you download the free HubSpot research kit, you will receive editable templates for each of the specified parts of the kit, as well as instructions on how to use the templates and kit, and a mock presentation that you can edit and customize.
Download HubSpot’s free, editable market research report template here.
1. Five Forces Analysis Template
Verwenden Sie das Fünf-Kräfte-Modell von Porter, um eine Branche zu verstehen, indem Sie fünf verschiedene Kriterien analysieren und wie hoch die Macht, Bedrohung oder Rivalität in jedem Bereich ist – hier sind die fünf Kriterien:
- Bedrohung durch Neueinsteiger
Laden Sie hier eine kostenlose, bearbeitbare Vorlage für die Analyse der fünf Kräfte herunter.
Eine SWOT-Analyse zeigt direkte Bereiche auf, in denen Ihr Unternehmen fortfahren, aufbauen, sich darauf konzentrieren und daran arbeiten kann, diese zu überwinden.
Sowohl Marktumfragen als auch Fokusgruppen (die wir im nächsten Abschnitt behandeln werden) helfen Ihnen dabei, wichtige Informationen über Ihre Käuferpersönlichkeiten, Zielgruppe, aktuelle Kunden, Markt, Wettbewerb und mehr (z. B. Nachfrage nach Ihrem Produkt oder Ihrer Dienstleistung, potenzielle Preise) zu ermitteln , Eindrücke Ihres Brandings usw.).
Umfragen sollten eine Vielzahl von Fragetypen enthalten, z. B. Multiple Choice, Rankings und offene Antworten. Stellen Sie quantitative und kurz beantwortete Fragen, um Zeit zu sparen und leichter Schlussfolgerungen zu ziehen. (Speichern Sie längere Fragen, die detailliertere Antworten für Ihre Fokusgruppen erfordern.)
Hier sind einige Kategorien von Fragen, die Sie per Umfrage stellen sollten:
- Demografische Fragen
- Fragen der Wettbewerber
Fokusgruppen bieten die Möglichkeit, detaillierte qualitative Daten von Ihren echten Kunden oder Mitgliedern Ihrer Zielgruppe zu sammeln. Sie sollten Ihren Fokusgruppenteilnehmern offene Fragen stellen. Beachten Sie dabei folgende Tipps:
- Legen Sie ein Limit für die Anzahl der Fragen fest, die Sie stellen (schließlich sind sie unbefristet).
- Stellen Sie den Teilnehmern einen Prototyp oder eine Demonstration zur Verfügung.
- Fragen Sie die Teilnehmer, wie sie sich zu Ihrem Preis fühlen.
- Fragen Sie die Teilnehmer nach Ihrem Wettbewerb.
- Bieten Sie den Teilnehmern am Ende der Sitzung Zeit für abschließende Kommentare, Fragen oder Bedenken.
Marktforschung durchführen, um besser zu wachsen
Die Durchführung von Marktforschungen kann eine sehr aufschlussreiche Erfahrung sein. Selbst wenn Sie glauben, Ihre Käufer ziemlich gut zu kennen, werden durch den Abschluss der Studie wahrscheinlich neue Kanäle und Messaging-Tipps aufgedeckt, um Ihre Interaktionen zu verbessern.
Anmerkung des Herausgebers: Dieser Beitrag wurde ursprünglich im März 2016 veröffentlicht und aus Gründen der Vollständigkeit aktualisiert.