What Are the Best Primary Market Research Methods? & How to Use Them
Want to learn about your customers? Use primary research. Primary research obtains market research data directly from sources, compared to secondary market research that uses data already compiled. Conducting primary research provides insights into how current and potential clients relate to your product or service.
What Are the Types of Primary Market Research?
There are two forms of primary market research techniques: qualitative research and quantitative research. Qualitative research is a research technique that seeks to describe and understand behavior. It uses open-ended questions to collect information. Quantitative research gathers data that can be numerically presented and statistically analyzed.
What is Qualitative Research?
Qualitative research can provide insights into the why behind behaviors. It’s a descriptive form of research that can reveal ideas and perceptions that lead to decision-making. Qualitative research is a less formal research method compared to quantitative research. It can lead to recommendations for what to test with quantitative research.
What is Quantitative Research?
Quantitative research is a structured research form that quantifies thoughts, opinions and behaviors. It can be used to test and validate hypotheses. Quantitative research results may be used to represent a larger sample size or population.
How to Conduct Primary Market Research
With any type of primary market research, the first critical step is to identify the right target audience and research subjects. You’ll also want to determine how big of a sample size you need to obtain helpful results. Determine the questions and problems you’re trying to address to help you make the right research selections.
Most primary market research techniques can be conducted through virtual means today. Depending on what you want to research and the insights you’re after, virtual primary market research may work for your business. The following are several types of primary market research to consider.
What Are In-Depth Interviews?
In-depth interviews are one-on-one conversations with a primary research target. They can be face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews or virtual interviews. With depth interviews, you can gain rich insights and really understand the needs, wants and desires of the interview subject. That helps you understand how they view your products or services.
Best Practices for In-Depth Interviews
Since in-depth interviews are time-intensive, carefully screen the participants you’ll be interviewing. Identify the characteristics you want a subject to have, then find interview subjects based on those characteristics.
Go into an in-depth interview with pre-planned questions that address the insights you want to glean. But be flexible. Ask follow-up questions if you need clarification or if an answer provides information warranting a new question. Try to ask more important questions earlier on in the interview in case you run out of time.
Virtual Tools for In-Depth Interviews
Video conferencing tools like Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts make it easy to conduct in-depth interviews online. Using a transcription service like Rev can vastly improve market research efficiency. Rev’s searchable, shareable transcripts allow you to quickly find insights after the interview, so you can pay attention to the interview and focus on your questions instead of trying to take copious notes. After the interview, you’ll have a full, searchable record of everything that was said.
How Do Focus Groups Work?
Focus group research consists of a small group that answers questions and provides feedback during the same interview session. With focus groups, you get insights from individual group participants. You also can see how participants interact with each other during focus group discussions.
Focus Group Pitfalls
Focus groups can present some challenges. One is that one or several participants may dominate the conversation, which can discourage everyone from participating equally. Another challenge might be “groupthink,” when one participant’s views influence the other members to agree or to not state their true opinions.
Focus Group Tips
Focus group success requires a skilled facilitator. A focus group facilitator should encourage every participant to contribute meaningfully. The facilitator needs to pay attention to feedback and ask thoughtful follow-up questions. They should also encourage discussion and keep participants on track to get the insights needed. Focus group facilitators also need to avoid injecting their own bias into discussions.
Similarly to in-depth interviews, focus group interviews should feature the most important questions early on. Use a discussion guide to ensure those questions are answered within the time constraints. The discussion guide should also facilitate a logical discussion to keep focus group participants engaged.
Virtual Tools for Focus Groups
Online video conferencing tools work for focus groups, but there are new challenges to consider when conducting them virtually. Avoid having people talk over each other. Have the facilitator ask that participants only speak once they’re asked. Use a chat feature to facilitate discussion. If a participant wants to add to what someone’s saying, they can send a message in the chat or raise their hand to signal the moderator.
What Is Observational Research?
Observational research is a form of qualitative research that examines how subjects behave. It involves watching, listening and paying attention to that subject’s actions. Observation can happen through information-gathering or by monitoring purchase habits. It can also involve looking at complaints and product returns or watching how consumers behave in a natural or manipulated setting.
Best Practices for Observational Research
To get meaningful insights from observational research, make sure the subjects being observed accurately represent your customer base. Go into research sessions knowing the insights you’re looking for so you know what to pay attention to. Consider whether you need to tell subjects they’re being observed, since knowing they’re under observation could influence their actions.
Virtual Tools for Observational Research
Marketers can use tools like video camera connections or biofeedback systems to observe subjects and collect information. A researcher can use eye tracking software or a heat map to see how participants interact with a website or online environment.
Another way to conduct virtual observations is to let the user give real-time feedback. For example, a marketer may want to test a website experience. The subject could record themselves using it so the researcher can see real-time reactions and feedback.
How Are Surveys Used for Research?
Surveys are a form of quantitative primary market research that ask subjects the same questions across the board. These questions can be close-ended, where the survey taker has set responses like “yes/no,” or they can be multiple choice or evaluated on a scale ranking. Questions may also be open-ended, where the survey taker can write out their thoughts in the answer.
An advantage of large-scale surveys is that the results can be used to create reports for the public. Survey results can be built into a content marketing tool like an ebook to build trust and authority in the industry.
A survey should be a questionnaire that keeps survey takers engaged so they complete the survey. It should be logical and easy to follow, instead of jumping around topics, so survey takers stay on track.
Tips for Conducting Surveys
To get the best survey insights, questions need to be clear so survey takers don’t get confused and respond inaccurately. You also need to target the right sample and screen participants. That ensures they fit the demographic you want to study before you spend time surveying them. Getting results from the wrong demographic can also skew your insights.
Make it easy for the survey taker to complete the survey. Create mostly close-ended questions and just a few open-ended questions. That makes for a more user-friendly survey and also helps researchers gather data to compare trends. Once the results are in, researchers can perform a statistical analysis and determine how accurate of a representation the results provide.
How to Conduct Surveys
Surveys can be done a variety of ways, including by telephone, through online forms, by mail, in person and virtually. Online, you can create a survey using a tool like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey and send it out. If you want to ask someone survey questions face-to-face, you can use video conferencing to conduct the survey.
How is Social Listening Used for Research?
Social media gives marketers direct access to consumer opinions. Free networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn are places where consumers post thoughts on businesses and market trends. Question-and-answer sites and forums like Reddit also offer space for consumers to post public discussions.
Social Listening Techniques
Social listening can be done observationally, where marketers track certain subjects or #hashtags. It can also be more proactive, by targeting certain content creators or influencers to get their opinions on a topic. For example, you could create a private social media group for your target audience. Then, conduct focus group-like interviews or let participants discuss among themselves.
Virtual Tools for Social Listening
There are several social listening tools you can use to aggregate data like mentions and trending topics. A couple to check out are Sprout Social and Brandwatch. You can also create surveys on sites like Facebook and Twitter to poll your social media audiences on various topics.
What is Experimental Research?
Experimental research is a test marketing format. Marketers can conduct A/B tests to manipulate factors and compare results. A common A/B test is showing different versions of landing pages or email campaigns to a similar audience. The researcher would see which version has the most engagement. You can also A/B test digital advertising campaigns to learn insights about leads and customers.
Experimental research can also be used to test physical products. For example, a skincare company might recruit participants to track their skin results. One group would use the company’s product. The other group would use no product or a competitor’s product. These types of results can be used as marketing materials later to promote the product.
Experimental Research Best Practices
When conducting experimental research, use ethical guidelines. Depending on the trial, it may be essential to tell subjects they’re being researched. Online marketing experiments like changing landing pages aren’t a big deal. But trials that can affect someone’s mental or physical health need to be disclosed. Consult with legal counsel before launching experimental research.
How to Do Experimental Research Online
Online marketing tools like HubSpot enable marketers to A/B test campaigns like email and landing pages. Change only one prominent feature in an A/B test. Leave the rest of the elements the same. That way, you can distinguish meaningful results based on that one element’s performance. Change too many elements, and it’s more difficult to pinpoint which one affected results.
Optimize Market Research Interviews with Transcription
When you’re interviewing subjects for primary market research, make the interview more efficient and cost-effective with transcription services. Get fast insights and complete qualitative data using Rev’s transcription service for research like interviews and focus groups. You can get most transcriptions in just 12 hours with at least 99% accuracy.