It’s always good to learn new things and keep an eye on the future of market research, but let’s not forget about taking the best steps to conduct research correctly today. That includes talking to the right groups of consumers, using the right technology, and knowing how to reach respondents wherever they are. In all, there are seven steps to follow.
In this article, we discuss the seven steps that every project should include. The content is largely based on an episode of “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show” with Carol Haney, head of research and data scientist at Qualtrics, a Voxpopme partner.
1. Understand the scope of the research
The first of the seven steps to conduct research is to be crystal clear of what we are planning on doing.
“Make sure the shoe fits. Don’t make the shoe too big or too little,” said Carol. “Make sure you ask the questions that you need answered but don’t throw the kitchen sink at the respondents.”
To achieve that, Carol said, she writes the report she wants to see ahead of time, a concept explained in the article “Stop Writing Surveys and Start Designing a Fake Report.” It helps her set the scope.
That doesn’t mean everything is set in stone. Carol said to define the scope:
- Come up with that hypothesis
- Run it by others
- Move forward
“I say ‘poke holes in it’ and I’ll take it back and revise it,” Carol said. “Once you have that, you can now reverse engineer it into your entire survey design. That way you know you are not asking too much or too little.”
2. Understand the target audience precisely
This is who you are trying to hear from. For example, if you want to find out if people that workout prefer to exercise at home or at the gym, it makes only sense to talk to people who actually work out.
Given that the report and results will be shared with other stakeholders, make sure everyone involved agrees on the target audience.
“Go and interview those stakeholders and find out who it is they want to hear from,” said Carol.
Then write your screening questions in a way that they can’t be gamed, Carol said.
“You are getting at the person you want to talk to but you are not leading them down the path that they know who that is,” she said. “Don’t allow your respondents to do what we call ‘satisfyzing.’ Allow them to thoroughly and authentically give good answers ”
Of course, writing good screening questions can be a challenge. Voxpopme Vice President of Marketing Jenn Vogel gave the example of:
Do you own a jet ski?
“You will get a lot of ‘yeses’ if people think that’s how they can get into the survey,” she said.
Carol suggested that question can be reworded with jet-skiing being one answer to a broader question.
What activities do you do in the summer?
- Outdoor exercising
“Then you get your real target audience – the people that actually do jet-ski,” Carol said.
3. Develop the right strategy for the particular research
This includes considering:
- the time you have
- budget available
- impact you are trying to make
Sometimes that could be qual, sometimes it could be quant and other times it could be a combination. For example, in the consumer studies – like this one about clean food labels – that we publish on our Market Research Blog – we combine quant and qual.
- First I ask some quant questions to get numbers like xx percent want to work out at home
- Then follow up with qual questions, asking them to explain or elaborate through video surveys
Carol gave the example of doing 50 video interviews for a study.
Seeing and understanding people’s surroundings all becomes part of understanding them. And we can see the potential disconnect between their body language and what they are saying.
In another scenario – let’s say a segmentation study – Carol wouldn’t recommend doing in-depth interviews via video as one of the steps to conduct research. A quant survey to a larger group would make more sense here, she said.
“I would do that with way over 1,000 people,” she said. “I want to understand across my whole customer base. Who are those segments and how do they differ? Where do they overlap, where do they differ and how can we reach them?”
Understanding the timing
We’ve discussed the increased demand for speed plenty of times on our Market Research Blog. And with that it’s important to understand when stakeholders need results from a study.
“If you don’t have a lot of time, you can’t do 50 IDIs,” Carol said. “It’s just impossible. You are going to have to switch things up.”
4. Finalize the strategy
After all these steps have been worked through, we need to finalize the strategy. That includes going back to stakeholders and sharing what the final draft of the strategy is and to make sure everyone is aligned.
“This is what we are thinking and these are the reasons why,” Carol said. “These are the target audiences and this is how we’ll get to them. And just socialize all of this information.”
We need to make sure that we are going down the right path and that path is evidence-based, she said.
5. Perform the research
The next step is to do what we said we would do in our strategy and do it well and in a meaningful way to the business. Perform the research study.
6. Do a disaster check
Do a check-in to see if things are on track. That includes:
- Write an early report
- Look at the open-ends that people are submitting. “If you are doing qualitative work – watch the videos,” Carol said. “Are your questions being answered? Will you be able to produce that report?”
- Are you reaching the right respondents?
- Do respondents interpret the question the way you meant it?
7. Evaluate how well the research
The final step of the steps to conduct research process is to look at if the research worked. Did it get us the insights from the right audience in the right time frame?
“You’ve scoped out the research, here’s the decision we are look to make as a business and now it’s a doublecheck,” Jenn said. “Did we achieve what we were trying to achieve?”