Market research boosts the effectiveness of an organization’s web strategy and it’s application in-market. Certainly a business or a web agency can purchase or review reports conducted by researchers on broad market conditions, but these reports may not always answer the nuanced or specific questions of an organization and their particular niche market.
The Internet has may it possible for organizations to conduct their own market research and intelligence gathering using open-source technologies, social sites, polls and niche networks. Here are a few ways that an organization can conduct small-scale market research to help power web strategy.
Audit existing resources – As a great starting point, make a list of internal company resources that could be used for discovering insights. Examples could include:
- Analytics for your company website to better understand word searches, content usage or drop off points
- Reviewing comments within a company blog or forum for specific user questions, feedback and interests
- Interviewing stake holders for their experience
- Reviewing all client or customer complaints, questions and feedback from all available sources. Begin by organizing the notes by subject or theme and conduct a tally to understand potential trends over time.
Online focus groups – Many of the benefits of a traditional, in-person focus group can be achieved online in a far, less expensive way. Social communities are a great way to assemble a focus group and have them review products, services or provide structured insight into their online behavior. An online market researcher can reward participants with a small gift, digital download or special access to the final poll insights, as an incentive to their participation. Social networks such as Google+ or Linkedin are great places to start with small-scale market research.
Surveys – Surveys can be conducted on social networks, as well as within a company’s website, blog or customer forum. Tools such as SurveyMonkey or Google Consumer Surveys offer ways for researchers to gain access to a large audience or a specific demographic target.
Social buzz monitoring & web alerts – Analyzing and monitoring the buzz and online mentions within social networks about a brand, product or service can be a vital part of market research. Monitoring social chatter can build insights and help an organization keep their finger on the pulse of their community and market. Additionally, social monitoring can help an organization spot frustrated clients and reputation issues early.
Direct questions to clients or customers – It is important to not overlook your existing resources. For example, simply having employees ask direct questions at a specific time in a customer relationship can drive powerful insights. Asking for feedback can also be a great way to build trust with a client or customer–as they may feel you care about their needs and you have a desire to improve your service.