Don’t Ignore Market Research. Your Brand Depends on It.

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Market research should be a key part of any business strategy. If you’re avoiding it, you’re missing a huge opportunity to grow your brand. Here’s how to get the most out of market research – for you and your customers.

Market research should be a key part of any business strategy, but many brands are reticent to invest in specific strategies. They either don’t see the purpose of formal market research, or they’re unsure of how to best engage their target market on this front. If they do invest in market research, most are failing miserably at it.

All of this is troubling, because market research isn’t just about collecting information on consumers – it’s just as much about creating a customer experience and fostering a brand community through relevant incentives and rewards. If you’re avoiding market research, or going about it in the wrong manner, you’re missing a huge opportunity to grow your brand.

Research experience is customer experience

In many ways, the market research experiences your customers have shape the way they feel about your brand. If the experience is positive, then they’re more likely to engage you again in the future. If the experience is negative, then you risk losing their trust and future participation.

Unfortunately, the 2017 GRIT Consumer Participation in Research study found that only one out of four customers around the world are satisfied with how companies engage them in the market research process.

As the study’s author Leonard Murphy says, “We as an industry must change our ways. The way we have always conducted research may have met our needs in the past, but the world has changed, and people simply expect more from their relationships, including research.”

How to enhance the market research experience for customers

If you’re only thinking about market research in terms of the insights you glean, then you have a one-dimensional approach. It’s just as much about how customers feel when they participate in the research. That said, you need to focus on ways to improve this touch point. Here are a few ideas:

1. Provide the right incentives

Did you know that American businesses spend $90 billion annually in noncash incentives for customers? Most of this money is spent on rewards programs, and the data shows that customers respond well. Why, then, aren’t more companies using incentives to motivate customers to participate in market research? Well, some are – and you should, too.

Swagbucks is one example of an incentive-based community where brands can share market research studies and gather feedback from a large group of individuals that fit their target market. Thousands of customers participate in Swagbucks, and it’s a totally legitimate way to cost effectively incentivize people to engage in market research for your brand.

2. Improve design

Believe it or not, the GRIT study shows that the large majority of customers – 55 percent – are turned off by bad design. Put simply, if a survey, study or questionnaire has bad formatting, completion rates fall rather dramatically. Thankfully, this is a simple fix. Improve the design, and you’ll get better results.

3. Allow for two-way dialogue

The final tip is to make research experiences go both ways. Customers don’t want to fill out one-way questionnaires. They’d much rather be part of an activity in which they can interact with the brand and participate in two-way dialogue. This might look like hosting a formal focus group, interacting with customers on social media, hosting a webinar, launching a Facebook Live event, or anything in between. The point is that customers want to be engaged, not quizzed.

Prioritize customer experience

If you approach market research with customer experience in mind, you’ll get good results. Getting good insights and engaging customers in meaningful ways aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, the latter feeds the former. Prioritize your customers, and they’ll reward you with constructive feedback and insights.

Larry Alton

Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to a number of reputable online media outlets and news sources. A graduate of Des Moines University, he still lives in Iowa as a full-time freelance writer and avid news hound. Currently, Larry writes for Inquisitr.com, SocialMediaWeek.org, Tech.co, and SiteProNews.com among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing.

He pursued his undergraduate degree in English Literature and transitioned to freelance writing full-time upon graduation. The years he spent studying and working the corporate daily grind prepared him well for his work with AGBeat.com, Entrepreneur.com, Mediapost.com and Americanthinker.com. A featured writer with Desk.com, WishPon.com and Experts.AllBusiness.com, he’s positioned himself at the top of the tech writing field and is known for “translating” industry jargon into easily digestible, readable content.

Particularly interesting fields for Larry include digital media, thought leadership, any and all things Android and iOS, entrepreneurship and social media. Connect with Larry on Google+ or in the comments section on any of the sites where he’s featured.

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