Small business market research is a difficult game. If you use Google “How to Conduct Market Research,” then you will encounter a long list of strategies that are difficult to use in a small business budget.
- Market research surveys
- Focus groups
- Competitive intelligence
- SWOT analysis
- Structured interviews.
The list goes on.
If you study market research techniques further, you can quickly find information about the differences between qualitative and quantitative research and even statistical sampling methods.
All these market research techniques have their place. However, when you want to know how to conduct market research for small businesses, you are not considering complex statistical models or huge budgets.
Market research companies sometimes conduct large-scale surveys and international focus groups. You may not have the means to attract 100,000 people through a survey, nor the resources to establish multiple focus groups.
Your market research process may not include a lot of technical or statistical data. However, there are still some small business market research tools available. Market research for new or small businesses may require some creativity.
With the right strategy, you can conduct economical and even free market research to gain the insights your business needs.
How can market research benefit a small business owner?
Now, you may be wondering: Why do you need market research? Small businesses have a lot of daily business to deal with. It is difficult to spend time doing market research for small businesses, especially if you need to learn how to do market research first.
However, if you check with your audience from time to time, you may unknowingly put your business and income aside. There are many benefits for small businesses to conduct market research, but the most important ones include:
- Help you create more attractive marketing materials. Find out more target markets that are of interest to your company.
- Suggest new product or service ideas based on pain points.
- Minimize the risk of positioning errors caused by unknowingly.
- Provide you with the latest information as early as possible before the industry trends are widely spread
In short, effective market research can help you penetrate the minds of your customers. How cool is it?
When you need to conduct market research on a tight budget, it is difficult to find the technology and market research tools that can bring the most value to your time and cost investment.
This article describes how to use our 8 favorite affordable market research techniques to conduct market research for small businesses.
- Book reviews
- Facebook groups
- Behavior and analytics
- Ask your audience
1. Quora: How to use Quora for market research
Quora is a social media platform based on questions and answers. On Quora, users can submit questions about any topic they like, as well as answer questions related to their expertise.
Getting started with Quora is easy: the platform will guide you through the process and immediately prompt you to choose your area of interest.
After setting up your Quora profile, you will be notified when you flag a question with the selected topic. This way, you can easily see what pressing questions your audience is asking.
And because Quora decides the answer based on the result of the vote, you can also view the solution they think is the most valuable.
Therefore, Quora market research may be a good way to gather information about customer pain points. In market research for small businesses, it is difficult to overcome the problem of free disclosure raised by the audience.
If it suits your marketing plan, you can also consider spending some energy to answer Quora questions. Reusing blog posts as part of Quora’s marketing strategy can increase its reach and visibility.
2. Reddit: How to use Reddit for market research
Reddit calls itself the “Internet homepage” and for good reason-Alexa ranks Reddit as the eighth most visited website in the world and the fifth most visited website in the United States.
Reddit contains various communities, linked content, original content and memes. But in the cat videos and cute gif images, there are some surprisingly insightful conversations-these discussions are a gold mine of small business market research.
Reddit is organized into “subreddit”, which is a community focused on specific topics. Finding sub-problems based on your industry is a good way to dig out pain points, and you can discover the frank thoughts of your audience.
Anonymity means that reposters are generally willing to share content that they would not normally discuss in person. Reading discussion topics or even asking questions yourself can help you gain insights from specific areas.
For example, if you run a fitness business and need to know how to conduct market research, then you will find that there are many opportunities to conduct customer research on reddit.
Subreddits like these will show up:
Each of them serves a different community, and people often share their success and struggle. Reddit also helps track very narrow parts of a larger population.
Secondary concepts such as /r/griptraining are what defines a niche market-but if you run a rock climbing or weightlifting gym, it may gain valuable insights from your target audience.
For new users, navigating Reddit can be a bit tricky. But once you figure it out, it is a powerful tool for small business market research.
3. Book reviews: How to use Amazon book reviews for market research
This market research technique is a bit unusual, but because few people think of it, it becomes more powerful. When you need to conduct market research on a tight budget, you need to be creative.
Book reviews provide a lot of information that few people use, sometimes very detailed and specific information.
Amazon reviews are public, and you may know something about the most important or most popular books in the field. Even if you don’t know, Amazon charts are available for free-it’s easy to find what people are reading.
After you find some popular books, check the reviews. Amazon allows you to easily sort reviews based on how positive and useful the reviews are, so you can enter them anytime, anywhere.
Joana Wiebe of Copyhackers is a huge comment mining advocate who can meet your audience, which is correct. You can hear people’s questions and wishes in their exact language.
Positive reviews are helpful because they can help you understand that people are benefiting from them.
Negative or indifferent comments may be more helpful because they have the opportunity to point out needs or concerns that are not answered in the book, which may indicate that your business can take advantage of unmet needs.
4. Surveys: How to use a survey for market research
When most people think of using surveys to conduct market research on small businesses, they think of huge efforts, and their thousands of customers have made huge efforts.
No, you may not have thousands of customers to respond to surveys. There are certain types of research that do require these numbers.
But there are others who do not. These are the types you can focus on as you learn how to conduct market research for small businesses.
The questionnaire sent to customers after setting up the sale can help you understand their satisfaction and needs that led them to make a purchase.
Similarly, you can set the questionnaire to be sent to users who have not purchased a product. What prevents them from buying? What caused them to make different decisions? Even if you only ask these two survey questions, the answers can help you make adjustments next time.
Reward-this kind of small business market research is easy to automate. Use marketing automation software to easily set up automation based on purchases or under-purchases. Set up the survey questions once, and then focus on other parts of the small business when the results come out.
5. Facebook groups: How to use Facebook for market research
Facebook has emerged as one of the major corporate community building platforms. Enter your industry in the Facebook search and you will surely find a variety of related groups.
Some Facebook groups will be run by other business owners, while others will simply be people interested in the same topic. In any case, reading through the conversations and questions in the Facebook group can be a valuable source of market research.
When you use Facebook to conduct market research, you have several options. Just reading existing conversations is a good way to get started.
Even if the names on Facebook are not private, people are usually more willing to share their goals or frustrations in relatively private groups. After observing for a period of time and understanding the tone and social norms of the group, you can start to join the conversation.
Becoming a group member and participating in discussions is a great way to ask questions and go beyond the surface.
You can’t do this on other companies’ pages, and you must be cautious about spam, but Facebook groups can also help you attract participants to conduct market research.
When you are more satisfied with how to conduct market research on Facebook, sharing a survey link can help you collect quantitative market research data.
As a free platform with more than 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook can be a powerful way to conduct market research for small businesses.
6. Competitors: How to use competitor analysis for market research
You are not the only niche business. How does the most popular website in your industry try to attract your audience? How do you judge which content is most popular or successful? Use tools like Buzzsumo to find the most shared content on a particular topic.
Tools like SEMrush can tell you which content ranks highest in search engines. Both are good ways to identify potentially high-value topics. In addition to content, please review other marketing materials provided by competitors.
- Which messaging method do they use on the website?
- How do they create cross-selling and up-selling opportunities?
- What does their team look like?
- Who is actually doing marketing?
As the business develops, this information will become more useful. There is no guarantee that your competitors will do everything in the best way, but understanding how they manage their business can inspire some ideas to improve your business. This is how you conduct this type of research:
- Collect all information publicly provided by competitors.
- Sort out their website and information about the page, download flyers and brochures, and check the events they participated in.
- Make sure you are on their email list so you can see what type of messages they like to send.
A grain of salt is worthy of competitor research. Similarly, there is no guarantee that competitors have completed the level of customer research you are looking for.
However, looking at your competitors’ news is a useful way to infer features and advantages that are important to your audience.
Competitor research is not a substitute for direct contact with your audience, but it can be a good starting point to figure out what kind of content is popular in your niche.
7. Behavior and analytics: How to use data for market research
Understanding the needs of customers is one thing. In any industry, professionals know that customers don’t always know how to solve their problems.
Sometimes, there is a better question to conduct market research. Tracking behavior on a website or interaction with emails and messages is a great way to see which marketing methods are most popular, and can help you adjust your marketing methods in the future.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that can show people exactly how people interact with your website.
Which content topics are the most popular? Add more content on these topics. Which pages have the highest conversion rate? Direct more traffic to these pages.
Your content marketing is also a source of information about your audience. Combining website tracking with marketing automation can take things to the next level.
Marketing automation software can track email openings, link clicks, behavior on the site, replies/forwards, and use these insights to automatically follow up on the things that customers care about most.
Of all the affordable small business market research techniques in this list, data is the most feasible. With Analytics, you can move from insight to action almost immediately (and sometimes automatically).
Conclusion: Use market research to get inside your customers’ heads
If your business grows, you will eventually need to consider using focus groups, surveys, statistical analysis, and market trend methods for market research.
These methods can reveal insights that are difficult to find using more affordable market research techniques.
If you need to understand market saturation, or understand how prices compare to competitors, you will eventually need to use some more traditional forms of market research.
However, before you can budget for standard methods, it is necessary to conduct market research. Staying in touch with your customers’ needs can give you a huge advantage for small businesses.
There are not many people doing market research in small businesses like this. Most like to wait until they can hire someone to do it for them (or ignore it completely).
Therefore, these types of affordable market research techniques have a huge competitive advantage-enabling you to penetrate the minds of your customers and provide them with the products they want to buy.