Market research is square one for most companies when they introduce a new product, create marketing strategies, and look for ways to establish relationship with their users.
Market research is essential to your SaaS brand’s long-term success, giving you insight into critical traits and characteristics of your target audience. It’s a way to collect information about their thinking, purchasing patterns, location, and much more. All this gives you a better picture of the types of products or services your customers want.
Consumer demands are constantly in flux. Market research lets you know whether or not their needs and expectations are met, keeping you relevant so you can update product features to match changing demand.
You can conduct research to back you up on critical decisions so you can be confident when offering additional services, tweaking your product design, or applying different marketing strategies.
Market research can help you analyze different business opportunities and capture the ones with the highest revenue potential. This is also an effective way to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing so you can maintain a competitive lead. You will know what content followers will likely read and keep them engaged with social media, email and blog content. All this knowledge, in turn, can lead to a positive impact on your sales revenue, profit, and ROI.
As with any researching project, it’s important to evaluate what your key objectives are so you know what you have to accomplish with your market research. Here are a number of aspects to base your market research project on:
- Understanding your customers and their preferences using the 4 P’s (price, product, promotion place)
- Profiling your customers based on location, age, gender, income level, etc.
- Recognize changes in demand
- Expanding your market demand
- Identifying economic shifts
- Monitor competition
- Determining sales potential of your products and services
While traditional market research techniques like surveys, buyer personas, and SWOT analysis are widely used, there are lots of new methods of conducting research to give you a new perspective on your consumers. Just as new technology emerges and socioeconomic trends change, the most effective ways to gain customer insight is changing as well.
1. Social listening (Quora, Reddit and Facebook)
For free market research, Reddit can be a very valuable source with over 200-million unique visitors each month. Reddit is an online community where users (redditors) can share content and view submissions on a host of subjects. It’s a place that powers communities where groups of people discuss common topics of interest.
Users have the ability to vote submissions up or down and organize posts to determine their position on the page. Based on these votes, most popular submissions are posted on the main page or appear at the top of a category. This way, you can easily identify the most prevalent conversations.
Topics of conversation are categorized as subreddits that include gaming, fitness, movies, books, and much, much more. To find your audience use the subreddit search tool to find conversations around your topic.
Say you want to research some small business trends: you could type in “entrepreneurship” and a thread of different conversations will be available to you. You can see how popular submissions are based on upvotes to see where most interest lies. It’s not the prettiest of sites, but it’s incredibly practical and gives you a clear picture of where what online conversations are like.
Looked at as a sophisticated Yahoo!, Quora is one of the more popular question-and-answer sites where people ask questions online and experts provide the answers. Similar to Reddit, posts can be edited and organized by its users. This is a good way to hear your audiences’ authentic voice and to get into your consumers’ shoes.
On Quora, you can subscribe to topics, follow people and get a feed of questions that are relevant to your business. You can use the Quora search tool to look for keywords related to your business. Let’s say you are a B2B company that offer software products to eCommerce businesses, then, a relevant key phrase for you to search could be “eCommerce software.”
You could start reading through FAQs that other people have voted for, shared, and re-asked to get into the heads of your customers. There’s even a “related questions” field that you could browse through and get first-hand insight into the issues that consumers — and competitors — are facing. Use this information to create relatable content for marketing.
While social media can sometimes be a frustrating platform for marketers to collect information, it can also be a very powerful source.
With 1.7-billion active users, Facebook, in particular, is a hub for collecting important consumer information. When using this platform for market research, don’t just mine through personal profiles and pages, but search through Facebook groups as well where people gather based on common interests. If you are focusing on specific groups, listen in on topics and provide them with content that they will value.
There are social media search engines like Social Mention that can help you understand what your target market is buzzing about online. With this marketing tool, you can search for a keyword in the search bar and Social Mention will provide you with the most recent posts on social media that contain that word. Alongside these posts, it provides you with an overview of the tone of these posts — how positive, passionate or strong they are. It also gives you a bank of keywords that relates to the topic.
2. Mobile Outreach
Surveys are nothing new. But we are seeing new ways of reaching out to customers through mobile market research. Smartphones and tablets have become the preferred device for a lot of market research. Additionally, SaaS is quickly moving to the mobile market as consumers are managing their finance, relationships, and business from their smartphones.
With over 163.9-million people owning smartphones in the US, they have become more than just a tool for making phone calls. With most people attached to their phones 24/7, this is an easy method to get instant feedback through phone, email, or social media. In addition, they are linked to a lot of other forms of data and have become a window into our lives – one that marketers can value.
Examples of mobile driven research include text messaging surveys where receivers can simply respond to polls via text message. You can create smartphone designed surveys that consumers can respond through a browser or app. Companies like iOpinionSurveys and OpinionMeter have come out with a platform to create mobile-friendly surveys via iOS, Android, and Windows platforms.
More advanced mobile market research utilizes the GPS features on consumer’s mobile device. You can track the movement of your users over time and ask questions based on location — for example, you could send a survey out to a user when you know they are in a gas station. An common example is the Retail Me Not app that sends notifications to consumers with deals and promotions based on their location.
We are seeing companies use passive data collection to gather information when an app is being used, where people are using it, how long they use it for, and even who they are using it with.
3. Consumer Reactions
A new method of collecting information for market research projects is the use of live tests to see people’s reactions to know how they interact with your web or mobile app.
Userlytics is a good example of this. They gather a number of people who match your target demographic and ask them to use mobile apps, videos, ads, and more provided by you. A video recording is set up so you understand exactly how people react to your product. You can ask them specific questions and get a first-hand account on how people use your content.
4. Testing Different Websites
You may be familiar with A/B testing — comparing two different versions of your website, landing page, email, etc. to see which one performs better. Half of your audience will see one variation, while the other half view the other. You may be surprised to see the difference in conversion rates between the two variants. The one with the better conversion rate wins.
Your web page is the first thing a lot of potential consumers see when learning about your products. An aesthetically pleasing and user friendly web page can make all the difference in how many conversions you get.
As an extension to A/B testing, Loop11 provides you with a service to test different web pages. With this tool, you create a web test using their test builder. You then customize these test pages with themes and templates that match your website and create specific questions to ask users. Recruit people to use your website and let Loop11 do the rest, giving you feedback on what is working and what doesn’t on your webpage. You can even take a look at your competitors and see how they compare to yours — or any web page for that matter.
5. Big Picture Data Collection
Gathering information about economic trends, demographics, and markets is also an important component to your market research project to understand the broader factors affecting your target market.
If your target market is based in the US, American Fact Finder is a great tool to gather information. You can use their filters to sort by age, race, gender, and location to get a broad overview of existing demographics. Their “Guided Search” feature is a good place to start. They walk you through a number of filters relating to topics, demographics, gender, race and age.
Nielsen is another good one to use to gain insight into demographics and lifestyle habits. You’ll learn which locations will respond best to a new product launch or marketing campaign, giving you knowledge into nearby competitors and shifting trends. You can enter a zip code to see the the demographics in the area and give you a snapshot of household income, age distribution, number of people living under one roof, and other demographic trends.
Pew Research Centre offers a lot of free research to give you a better picture of political attitudes, conditions and social media usage. What’s more is their sleek and user friendly charts and graphs give you detailed overview of the data. Categories are organized simply for convenient browsing accompanied with graphs and charts to make information easy to interpret.
6. Blog Content
If you are looking for fresh content for your blog, you can check what larger blogs that are relevant to your industry are posting. Use www.alltop.com to browse through blogs that relate to yours.
Read through bigger blogs to see the topics they are talking about and the comments that they are receiving. When doing this, focus on what the writer has missed and find gaps in the post that you can use in your future blog posts. See the types of feedback that is received and lookout for questions that people are asking. This way, rather than competing with existing blog posts, answer the queries that haven’t been covered yet and create new content that hasn’t emerged yet.
There are various ways to conduct market research for a multitude of purposes. Whether you are debating whether or not to introduce a new product line, change your business strategy, or are looking for new content.
Traditional methods of conducting research like surveys and buyer personas can give broad and ambiguous information. Really get into the heads of your target market and find out first hand what conversations interest them. There are a lot of online resources to help you with your market research whether that be primary or secondary data collection.
To really get the most out of your market research project, make your objectives are clear and use tools that can assist you, whether you want to directly gather information from consumers or focus on broader factors like socioeconomic trends.
Control offers the tools to help you identify high-value customers so you can target your market research with confidence. Try it today.