There's a need to engage in a constant battle to test different products and angles before you land on the ‘winning product.' This process can be expensive, time-consuming, and require a lot of experience. Sometimes, the products you choose don't last long enough to dent your revenue substantially.
What if there was a better way? A way to be 100% sure of which products to create and promote with a fraction of the effort?
In this guide, you'll learn how to properly use market research surveys to know about your audience and customers in a way that helps you promote the right products to the right people.
What are market research surveys?
A market research survey is a data collection method that allows you to gain valuable insights about your target market. Those insights could include shopping behavior, demographic data, or psychographic information.
The insights from market research surveys are used for a variety of things. Use them to understand the right price to charge, determine which markets to enter, get a grip on the kind of customers that like specific products, and much more.
The best part is that this approach works whether you're creating and promoting electronic signature software, the latest fast fashion, or timeless watches.
The key to an effective survey is the questions you ask and how you ask them.
For example, are you asking open-ended questions or closed-ended questions? Are you phrasing the question correctly so you don't lead people in one direction or another? What type of information are you collecting?
These are just a few factors to consider when creating market research surveys. Let's look at how to combine market research surveys for maximum results.
How to use market research surveys to discover the right products
There are multiple stages involved in the process of product discovery. The first step is creating the survey, which consists of the kind of questions you ask and the tools you use. The second step is distributing the surveys. How do you want to get it in front of your current customers or target market? Finally, you want to analyze the data and use that information to choose the right products. Let's look at each stage in more detail.
Asking the correct type of questions
There are many types of questions you can ask in your survey, but you have limited space. That's because of survey fatigue. The more questions you ask, the less likely your respondents are to complete the survey. You want to ensure you only ask the most important questions while keeping the survey short. There are three categories of questions to focus on, which I'll explain below:
Discovery questions, also known as customer discovery questions, help you better understand your customers' challenges, wants, and needs. They give you an idea of what problems customers and prospects want to solve, how significant that problem is, and even what didn't work in the past.
This data is essential because it lets you know the kinds of products you should focus on and which ones to ignore outright. For example, if someone has a problem with losing weight and finds it very important to solve, you may be able to sell fitness products. But, if they've tried diets and pills multiple times with no results, you'll probably avoid those options. Instead, you'll focus on training programs and equipment.
Remember that you can ask general customer discovery questions or more specific ones. For example, you could ask, what's your biggest problem right now? Or, you could ask, what's your biggest issue with getting in shape?
If you already have a focused niche, you should be asking more of the second type of question. If you're looking for a place, you may want to ask more of the first type of question.
A few discovery questions you can ask include:
- What's your biggest problem related to X
- On a scale of 1 – 10, with ten being extremely important, how important is it for you to solve this problem?
- How have you tried to solve that problem in the past?
- What prevented that method from working?
- What did you like about that method or solution?
- What specific solutions did you try (You're looking for brands or particular types or products here)
- What's your current workflow about X?
- Do you think your workflow could be improved? If so, how?
- What do you think is a must-have in solving the problem mentioned in question X above?
- What do you want to avoid seeing in a solution to problem X?
Psychographic questions are questions that seek to gather psychographic information from your respondents. Psychographic information tells you about someone's values, interests, preferences, and personality traits.
This is the kind of data you use to position the products you've honed in on. For example, if someone values or believes in sustainability, you can market your products as sourced from sustainable manufacturers. If their values are strong enough, they'll be more likely to purchase from you, even if the product is more expensive.
A few psychographic survey questions you may consider asking to include:
- In order of preference, rank the following priorities
- Social life
- Community involvement
- Time spent alone
- What is your current opinion on (critical social issues like global warming, social welfare, etc.)
- What are the most critical issues we're facing (country, society, state, planet, city, county, etc.)
- What do you consider your core values?
- What kind of role do your core values play in your decision making
- What would make you choose one product over another if they were both similar in price, design, and quality?
- What's most important to you, price or quality? W y is that?
- From the answer given above, does it change based on the type of product you're considering?
- Outside of work, what activities or hobbies do you engage in most often?
- If you had twice as much free time as now, what would you do?
- What's your preferred method of keeping up with current events in the news?
- What's your preferred method of staying in touch with friends and family?
- What's your favorite social media platform right now? W y is that?
These are just a few of the many psychographic questions you can ask. As you can see, it's helping you build a profile of their likes, dislikes, and preferences. With that information, you can figure out how to position your marketing and even where to spend money or time to reach them.
Demographic data is statistical and socio-economic data about a population. I seek to get a handle on the various dimensions of a population, and can be applied to a wide range of groups but is most commonly used when referring to people.
It includes age, gender, income, ethnicity, and other factors. The primary key is that its information that, when gathered, can be expressed statistically about the population.
It's essential to our purposes because it allows us to segment our target groups further and choose appropriate products. For example, you discover that a custom watch is well-regarded by potential customers. Y0u'll need to sell it for about $750. But the demographics it appeals to the most are college students between 18 – 23. While a handful of them may be able to afford it, the vast majority will only be able to admire it.
Here are a few demographic survey questions to consider:
- What is your gender?
- Other _____
- I prefer not to say
- What is your age range
- 18 – 21
- 22 – 25
- 26 – 29
- 30 – 33
- 34 – 37
- 38 – 41
What is your ethnicity?
- African American
- Middle eastern
- Hawaiian/pacific islander
- Other ____
- I prefer not to say
Where do you live?
- This question has a lot of variabilities because it could be on a country level, state level, county level, or even municipality level. Provide relevant choices.
What is the highest level of education you've completed?
- High school
- Trade school
- Associates degree
- Bachelors' degree
- Masters' degree
- Prefer not to say
What is your marital status?
- Single never married
- Single, divorced
- Prefer not to say
- Other ____
What is your yearly household income?
- 0 – $20,000
- $20,001 – $40,000
- $40,001 – $60,000
- $60,001 – $100,000
How many children under 18 live in your household
As you may have been able to tell. T e questions and options can be interpreted in many ways. Some people may be slighted because a certain option isn't available or the language isn't inclusive enough. Use these questions with consideration of your target market.
Your survey should consist of 7 – 15 questions and be a mix of open-ended and close-ended questions. Focus on the most important ones to you and can provide you with the best results. Next, we'll look at how to get respondents to your surveys.
Sending surveys to your customers and prospects
There are many ways to promote a survey and the option you'll eventually choose depends on your situation, resources, and requirements. T e options below are just a few of many.
There are many options when it comes to paid promotions for your surveys. These options can be divided into two categories:
- Paid service
Many services will let you send your survey to a pool of respondents that fit your stipulated criteria. Respondent.io, Survey Monkey, Qualtrics, and many more offer this type of service. Choose the one that meets your needs and budget. It is a good idea if you're starting and don't have a customer base.
You can go with relatively broad targeting criteria and then use the information you gain from the survey to narrow down who you'd like to target. The approach can be more expensive and may not be a good idea if you're on a tight budget.
- Paid advertising
Paid advertising takes advantage of the massive platforms available today to reach new potential customers or target existing customers and website visitors. Facebook, Google, TikTok, YouTube, etc. are all available.
When targeting new potential customers to take your survey, you'll use tighter targeting related to what you know about your existing customers. For example, you may target people within a specific age group or geographic region to ensure the information you collect is relevant and will help you make informed decisions.
For this route, you may have to offer an incentive. That may be a product that they'd find valuable or it could be a monetary reward. Whatever works best for your market.
Take advantage of retargeting ads for existing customers and website visitors. These people have proven interested in your current products and services, so you know their feedback is relevant.
This is one of the most effective ways to get respondents to your surveys. It works when you have enough people on your customer list. If you only have a handful of customers, you may not get enough responses for it to be relevant.
Set up a two or three-part email sequence that:
- Introduces the survey to them
- Explains why you're doing it
- Lets them know how much time you expect the survey to take
- Any incentive that you're providing
- A CTA to take the survey
The email should be short and to the point. Send out multiple variations of it over the course of a week to maximize the response rate.
Website popups are another way to collect relevant data from your target market. The challenge with these kinds of surveys is that people take them on a whim, and the abandonment rate tends to be higher.
Because of that, you should be prepared to get more responses than usual to unearth valuable data. If you plan on getting 100 responses previously, you may want to get 150 when using website popups.
There are many types to choose from, such as modal popups, which cover part of the screen; slide-in popups, which appear in the corner of the screen; and embedded surveys within the content of the page.
Work with different formats to find the one best suited to your audience and needs.
Out of these three methods, none is inherently better than the other. They all have their own pros and cons, and it's up to you to decide which one would be better suited to your needs.
Look for trends in your data (survey analysis)
This is the fun part and the portion that will make sure you're promoting the right products. After you've collected enough responses – target about one hundred – start to analyze the data.
You first want to look for the most prevalent segments within your data. When I say segments, I mean different groupings of people with common traits. For example, people between the ages of 24 and 30 believe in sustainable products.
The reason why you want to do this is to qualify and properly weigh the answers they give. Just like you probably wouldn't listen to the advice of an 18-year-old life coach if you were twice their age, you don't have to give every survey respondent's answer the same weight.
Of course, this will require a combination of objectivity and subjectivity to get right. The goal is to find 2 – 3 segments you'd most like to serve. You can group based on demographics, psychographics, or other criteria but stick with only one overarching segmentation factor for now. Any more than that, and it may become too complex for you to use the segments properly.
Once you've segmented your respondents into groups, you can move on to the next stage of data analysis, which is to look for response patterns.
Commonalities and patterns in responses
Note that the most important responses for this part of your analysis are the customer development questions. They're open-ended questions, so no two answers will be the same. That's not to say that two answers won't give you similar information.
People will use their own words to express their problems and the paths they've taken to solve them. Naturally, they'll be different on the surface, but when you look closely and apply critical thinking, you'll start to notice patterns.
For example, when doing surveys for DoxFlowy, we asked the question, ‘What's your biggest challenge when it comes to managing documents?' Some of the answers we got included:
Answer 1: We spend a lot of our time proofreading our documents and contracts to ensure the parties' information is entered correctly and that there are no grammar errors. We do have templates but usually have to change a lot of the templates because of different clauses that need to be swapped out.
Answer 2: We are a small team and growing pretty fast. We deal with a lot of paperwork internally and from clients, and even though we are growing, it is challenging to keep up with the volume. Because of this, things fall through the cracks, and sometimes we miss deadlines and hurt client relationships.
Both answers talk about entirely different things, but there are multiple common threads between them:
- Managing documents is taking up too much time
- The need to become more productive/efficient is important
This is the same way you'll look for common problems between responses even if they don't have the exact same language.
Once you know what problems your prospects have, choosing the right products to meet those needs is a straightforward process.
From there, you only need to use psychographics question responses to position the products and demographic data to target the right people.
Positive results are inevitable.
Market research surveys are powerful, but most people use them generally and may not tie them directly to product development, positioning, and targeting.
This guide has pulled back the covers and shown you how versatile properly used market research surveys can be. Use the insights you've gained here to find the right products, position them properly, and promote them to the right people.
How long does it take to implement a market research survey?
This entire process can be completed within less than a week. Of course, that time can be extended if you're having trouble getting enough survey respondents or have a smaller budget and cannot use paid methods to drum up an adequate response.
What is the best way to promote the survey?
Out of all the methods, the most inexpensive and reliable is emailing your own list. If you have a lot of traffic, you can use a website popup with an incentive before trying the paid traffic route.
How many customer segments should I focus on?
Try going after 2-3 initially, then hone in on the one that produces the most results in the shortest time. Once more conversant with this strategy, you can focus on more segments simultaneously.