To improve your business constantly, you need to speak to your customers. By doing so, your business can adapt and grow, driving sales, margins and revenue. Opening a dialogue with your customers, though, can prove more difficult than first expected. To many patrons, asking them for feedback can seem like a chore; answering questionnaires or joining a focus group isn’t something customers are likely to do unless there’s incentive.

Market research is, however, imperative to the increasing success of your company; there are many business milestones when you should conduct market research. For you to improve, you must understand and underline any issues your business may be exhibiting. If you fail to undergo proper market research, then you run the risk of stunting your business’s triumphs: it may be a costly endeavor to implement sound market research, but if done properly, you can greatly improve sales and overall revenue with your investment.

Primary Research:

Otherwise known as field research, primary research is when you gather information directly from the source, rather than being gathered from published sources. The most popular primary research methods include:

  1. One-on-One Interviews: when you sit down with one person and either ask them questions, watch them use your product or both. You will typically have an interviewer interact with the subject, while managers observe behind a one-way mirror. This is ideal if you want to see someone interacting with your product.
  2. Focus Groups: typically, focus groups are hosted at a focus group facility: managers will then observe behind a one-way mirror, similarly to one-on-one interviews. A moderator will usually run the focus group, asking a series of questions to their participants (the ideal number of participants being six to ten people). Finding the right participants can be time-consuming, though. Companies like Angelfish Fieldwork can help conduct market research recruitment for your focus groups, so you can receive engaged and relevant participants. Although focus groups take time to organize, they also offer a huge variety of data and results.
  3. Online Surveys: online surveys come in many different forms. You can email your customers a questionnaire, or alternatively ask a few questions at the end of a transaction. You can ask open-ended questions, or you can have them mark on a scale from 1 to 10. This is a quick and cost-effective way of acquiring feedback, however, it is also easily avoidable. Many customers will ignore your emails and consider it spam.

Secondary Research:

Secondary research is when you simply seek out existing research and data. Such data can be found in published journals, educational institutions and even social media comments like Twitter and Facebook posts. The perk of secondary research is that it is often free and quick to acquire. However, it won’t be 100% accurate to your individual company and there may not be any secondary data to fit your business’s precise specifications. Usually, secondary research is ideal for the building blocks of market research, so you have current information relating to your potential demographic. You should, however, also carry-out your own primary research.