Affordable Market Research

by Tim Davidson
11 min read

Affordable Market Research

Recently at Quizpipe we've bumped into an issue that most businesses have to overcome at some point; driving changes from customer feedback. Knowing what your customers need is the best way to move forward and increase your presence and sales. The problem is that standard market research can be involved and expensive and time consuming. That's why we decided to give some insights into how we go about affordable market research.

There are tons of great tools available on the marketplace that will help you to conduct your own market research. Generally, all it takes to get valuable and insightful data is some patience and willingness to learn new technologies.

The goal in writing this article is to arm you with cost effective ways you can uncover the critical information from your audience so you:

  • Have a clearer picture of what your audience are struggling with
  • Check if your business is providing value
  • Find obvious holes in your products or services

We'll also give you a brief rundown on how you can use a free trial of Quizpipe in your market research strategy.

So let's get into it.

How can I get free market research?

As the saying goes, if someone is offering you something for free, then you are the product. Free market research works on the same principle. Some aspects of market research can be automated to make the process simpler and quicker but it doesn’t cost a zero amount to produce.

Most of the time when a service is being offered for free, you’re simply not getting the full package. These can be good as it does give you a chance to trial something before you completely commit to it; there aren’t that many chances to do that in real life are there? For example, have you ever had the chance to drive a new car for six months before deciding to buy it permanently?

Having a free turn at using a market research tool is perfect for knowing if it will suit your business and what you hope to achieve.

What is a good example of market research?

Whichever method of affordable market research you choose, what you really need is good value for money. Often the ‘free’ versions of services and tools will give you little or no analysis on the data provided, this can actually make it harder to determine in which direction you should move. The costs of good market research are in the analysis phase, knowing how to read the data and present it in an easy to digest format is what gives it good value. You need a company that can take raw data and turn it into something sensible that everyone can understand easily.

picture of dart boat with bulls eye

One of the easiest and often most effective methods of research is to poll your customer base, you can send them a short survey and ask specific questions that you’d like answered. After you receive feedback from your customers, you can read back over the results and it should present you with a clear image of what changes you can make to your business to make it better.

However, there are a few other really good approaches to market research. Here are our favorites.

Screenshot of Clean Commit's Google reviews panel

1. Reviews

Probably the easiest method to find out what people think of your services is through reading reviews. Google is the champion of reviews and if your business isn't set up with Google My Business (GMB), it's something you should consider.

Reading Google reviews certainly isn't a silver bullet. Some businesses, like ours, don't qualify for an account because we don't have a physical store. But if you do have a Google page for customers to leave reviews, then you're in luck.

To find your reviews you can simply type in your business name and ‘reviews’. If you don’t have many reviews available there is no shame in asking some of your clients directly. In fact, we would highly recommend you build an automated process to ask for reviews. When you send out one of your regular emails you can add your review link ask them to leave a review.

The best way to find this link is to jump into Google My Business, select dashboard and then find the "Get More Reviews" panel. Click the "Share review form" button and copy the link.

screenshot of google my business review form

A quick hint when you're asking for reviews. In general you don't want to offer any discounts or specials for leaving a review; this can result in a them mentioning the discount and then your reviews look more like they were purchased and therefore untrustworthy.

Inevitably along the way you'll receive some negative reviews. Keep in mind that the exercise is to gain feedback rather than build a perfect suite of reviews. The negative results (usually 3 or 4 stars) tend to hold the best bits of information. There's usually still a bit of interpretation that is required. Unless the problem is something tangible, customer's often won't hit the nail on the head, but they'll give you clues to investigate.

screenshot of Cyberpunk2077 review on Steam

Another avenue when digging into results is to reach out to the person that left an interesting or insightful review. Most of the time people who leave negative reviews or voice their opinion's aren't out to sabotage you. They really just want to be heard and you can build a lot of rapport by giving them a chance to explain their experiences. Take all reviews at their face level and if there is a concurrent theme, it may be a good sign that you’re not exactly meeting the expectations of your customers and something needs to change.

2. Quora and Reddit

If you’re looking for answers from a mix of people you can try asking questions on social media websites like Quora or Reddit. The websites are filled with people who will answer your questions for free.

Keep in mind that both of these platforms can be swayed strongly by conflicting opinions. Reddit can be known as a graveyard for market research efforts that aren't subtle enough. If the crowd picks up on your intentions and feel you're simply trying to get something for free without providing any value back, your post will get downvoted into invisibility.

The trick with Reddit is to be transparent and ask for educated opinions. Explain your goal, list out why you need help from the community and offer something in return if possible. Try to avoid any self promotion. Also make sure to keep an eye on the subreddit's posting guidelines to avoid getting banned.

reddit icon

Quora on the other hand can be a bit of a race to the bottom. People posting on Quora are typically chasing some kind of personal gain through search engine optimization or brand recognition. The answers can be verbose and sometimes dance around the facts.

Don't let this stop you from posting your questions on Quora. Just keep in mind that if you word your question in a way that gives the responder a chance to talk about their business or experiences AND answer your question, then you'll have a better chance of getting results.

3. Survey your audience with Google Forms

Google provide a great, free service called Google Forms. It's very straight forward to use. Simply add your questions and the kind of response field you expect the answers to be provided in. For example, if you're asking yes or no questions, use a radio button. If you're asking an opinion that requires more explanation, provide a longer text field.

This approach makes the fairly lofty assumption that you already have your customers email addresses. If you're just starting out and don't have a list built up you may need to leverage social media or your blog to convince your readers to give a review.

Unlike Google reviews, it's completely acceptable to offer an incentive to your readers in exchange for a review. A lot of the time this is necessary. People are busy and unless you give them a reason to do something for you, they typically won't.

4. Creating a customer survey with Quizpipe

screenshot of a simple quizpipe quiz screen

Setting yourself up with a free Quizpipe account and creating a quiz to embed on your website is another great way to gain feedback from your customers.

The benefit of this approach is you can build a way for customers to provide feedback straight into the same place that customers will be interacting with you. This can be especially beneficial if you add the quiz into the last page you expect customers to view before they leave your site.

For example, if you're selling a product or advertising a service that requires a customer to enter their details to move to another part of your site before receiving confirmation, you can add a quiz here to capture some critical details about how they found the experience.

You still need to careful think through the way you design the questions to avoid adding responder bias and giving them the best chance to provide you useful insights.

screenshot of quizpipe embed code

5. Simply send an email and ask

Very creative, we know. But it works.

If you have an email list that are used to hearing from you there's no harm in simply reaching out to them to ask the question "how are we doing?".

Depending on how many emails you've got on your list, you may consider segmenting the number of people you send to, otherwise you may find your inbox is flooded with all kinds of opinions.

What about brick and mortar businesses?

All the methods above are really tailored to businesses operating online. If you're a brick and mortar based business then you operate under a completely different set of rules.

The first of these rules if that "free" and affordable market research is not going to be easy to come by. Your best option is to weave predefined questions into conversations with customers to find out how they felt about making the purchase. This can reveal excellent information and if you listen carefully you can figure out if there was anything, they needed that you couldn’t offer. For example, if you’re selling dog collars, and your customers ask about where they can go to get dog tags made, this is an indication that you could have made an extra sale if you solved their problem of needing a dog tag for the collar. While it’s not a complaint as such, your customer has provided you with the opportunity to solve a future problem for other customers.

You can conduct additional research in other ways such as surveys, focus groups, asking for customer feedback, face-to-face interviews, and questionnaires. All of these will provide you with valuable information. The challenge is that you'll usually need to run some kind of event to support these sort of invasive surveying techniques, or provide compensation.

If you need secondary market research, many small businesses will hire an external team to do their market research. It all depends on how big your budget is and what you hope to get back from your investment. When considering paying for market research you should be clear about your goals. This will give them the opportunity to specifically target their marketing to get you the results you need.

There are many places that have already completed the market research required in your sector and you can buy these. While this may seem like affordable market research, as often it can be priced very well, it’s notable that sometimes this is not very specific to your requirements.

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