In order to construct effective online marketing campaigns that always hit their intended targets, you must conduct the proper market research. Proper market research involves the collection, organization and interpretation of extremely important data. Conducting research used to be much more difficult than it is today. In days gone past, you used to have to gather research study groups and conduct on-the-street market surveys. Thanks to the internet, you can learn how to conduct market research using many of the free online tools available today. The following is the step by step process you should use to conduct your research. Please keep in mind that this is just a basic or preliminary research exercise. Proper research may get much more involved than the mere steps found here, however this outline will give you a great head start.
Step 1: Define Your Objective
What are you trying to accomplish with your market research? You will probably want to know if your product or service is viable. In other words, you want to know that there is a need for whatever it is you’re offering. As you are learning how to conduct market research and as you define your objective, try to come up with a specific question or problem that you hope to answer or solve.
Step 2: Identify Data Sources
This is the step where you identify the sources where you’ll glean the important information for your study. For online marketing purposes, we want to find out what our audience wants and what they’re thinking. For that reason, we might engage in:
- Keyword Research: Using Google Insights and the Adwords Keyword Tool, we can find out the exact terms our audience is using and the current search trends affecting the market.
- Social Awareness: Facebook, Twitter and other online social networks are perfect for collecting market research data. Facebook is about to release its Graph Search, which should help even more with networking and social marketing. It should also help you learn how to conduct market research effectively and efficiently. Sadly, Graph Search is invite only at the moment.
- Forum Lurking and Participation: Popular forums are excellent for data mining. Just by lurking the threads, you can find out what topics people are discussing, which topics are hot and what answers have and have not been given. This is invaluable data for your market research.
- Online Surveys: It is also recommended that you release one or more surveys to your target audience. Keep them short and choose your questions carefully. You might offer them on your website, on social networking platforms or you may choose to private message or email your survey to people you’ve specially selected.
Step 3: Data Collection
This is the process where you will collect your data. It’s recommended that you choose your market research subjects carefully. You may even want to pre-test your surveys and data collection instruments to see if you’re on the right track.
Step 4: Choose Your Samples Carefully
As you’re learning how to conduct market research, you should start identifying sample groups within your primary target groups. For instance, if you’re gleaning data from an online forum, you might choose a particularly knowledgeable poster for one of your survey samples. You can also choose survey subjects randomly and you’re encouraged to do so just to give you a wide mix of data.
Step 5: Analyzing the Data and Reporting
This is the step where you will tally up all the data and analyze it so that it makes sense to the entire group conducting the market research. The data collected and analyzed should also effectively answer the identified question or problem.
Finally, put everything into a nice report and keep your data as organized as possible. You should be able to come back to it and make sense of the information you’ve collected at any time. Keeping this organized will also help you keep things straight as you expand on your research over time.
Once you have learned how to conduct market research, you’ll have the information you need to develop targeted online marketing campaigns that always make the intended impact. Keep in mind that this research data isn’t set in stone. Your online marketing campaigns could change over time as consumer needs and online marketing trends change. The marketing research steps above will at least give you a solid guideline you can follow to get to the bottom of your target market’s motivations and the problems those individuals desperately want solved.