Market research is a great way to get to know your target audience. It can help you identify trends, get feedback, and determine your success. To get accurate and valid results, it’s important to be careful with how you conduct your research. There are established best practices for nearly any industry, as well as guidance on how to properly analyze the data that you collect. To get you started on the right track, here are five ways to avoid introducing any biases into your market research data.
1. Ask the Right Questions
The first step in market research is deciding what you want to ask and how you want to ask it. Whether you are writing questions for an online survey, an in-person focus group, or a different method, you want to be sure that you’re asking the right things. The most effective questions are those that ask about one topic at a time and are clearly written. You want to avoid asking leading questions as well. This will not improve your respondents’ cx but it will also get you better data.
2. Talk to the Right People
Once you have the questions set, the next step is to reach out to your audience. You’ll want to reach a group of people who are as representative as possible of your overall customer base. You may also want to consider reaching people via various methods. Focus groups, mailed out questionnaires, survey codes printed on receipts, and phone calls can all help you reach a wider audience and collect more data. A general rule of market research is that the more people you reach, the lower your odds of encountering a sampling bias.
3. Run the Right Tests
After you’ve gathered all of your data, the next step is to analyze it. Different data types require different methods of analysis. For example, qualitative data, such as written comments or things said during a focus group meeting, has to be reviewed and coded before it can be analyzed. Quantitative data, such as net promoter scores and Likert scale rankings, is more easily analyzed but may lack the nuances found in qualitative data. Choose the right tests for your data carefully, and be sure to follow the guidelines for how to run each test. Making a mistake on this step can ruin an otherwise excellent data set.
4. Interpret the Right Results
You’ve written the right questions, talked to all the right people, and run all the right tests. The next step to ensuring that your market research is valid is figuring out what the results mean. If you ran tests such as a t-test or a z-test, you likely got a number as your result. That number by itself doesn’t mean much. You’ll need to consult a chart (in the case of a z-test) or determine the p or the confidence intervals (in the case of a t-test) to provide the necessary context. This will help you decide if your result is statistically significant or not. If it is, then you can trust that your results, both good and bad, are likely true. If not, then you may need to back up a few steps and try again.
5. Act on the Right Information
Statistically significant data that comes from a representative sample is the gold standard of market research. Once you have the information in hand, you can make business decisions based upon it. If the results are positive, then you may want to keep going with your current sales or marketing strategies. If the results didn’t bring good news, then you can choose to change course and try something else to better reach your audience.
Market research comes with a lot of ways to go wrong, but it is a very valuable tool for your business’s success. Market research can help provide feedback on how your business is being viewed by your customers. Investing in your research team can help ensure quality and trustworthy results. This will allow you to make changes to avoid failures or to celebrate successes. Either way, having the right information on your business’s status is always a good result.
Guest Article by Kevin Gardner
Kevin Gardner graduated with a BS in Computer Science and an MBA from UCLA.