Whether you are thrifty or extravagant by nature, you’re probably open to saving not only money but also things like time and stress when it comes to embarking on your next research project. Online market research tools make it easier than ever to get the statistically valid results you need without the traditionally high costs associated with extensive research projects.
Before you scratch the idea of conducting market research, check out these five ways to save on your next one. It may become evident that the high quality information you discover is truly worth the less-than-anticipated investment.
When you think of research projects, you probably have visions of year-long efforts that involve complex questionnaire design, audience definition, lengthy data collection, complicated changes, and time-intensive analysis. When business is moving at breakneck speeds, you can’t afford to wait months for solid results.
Online research projects, when designed correctly, can deliver statistically valid results for highly defined populations at a fraction of the time of traditional market research.
In the past, finding the right survey audience could be a long and cumbersome process with less-than-ideal results. Today, technology makes it possible to locate extremely unique survey participants from anywhere in the world. Designing a questionnaire in one language used to take weeks or even months; today, questionnaire development can be somewhat automated and translated into multiple languages within days. When data analysis was more manual, the tallying of results and associated analysis was burdensome. Many programs today can quickly process quantitative data in minutes.
Certain components of market research, such as lengthy personal interviews or in-person focus groups, can quickly eat-up a marketing budget. In order to achieve high levels of statistical significance or accuracy, some questionnaires may require high participation rates, which can also be costly. If you’re seeking a very specialized audience, you may rack up large bills trying to locate enough survey participants on your own.
In recent years, online market research has fine-tuned its ability to rival traditional research tools with the same or better quality of results at a fraction of the cost. Many online survey tools are available at low costs or even for free; however, it’s important to have some market research expertise to use these effectively. Organizations that offer access to validated global online survey panels can help you pinpoint the exact demographic you’re looking for in just about any country in the world. A wide variety of software tools can crunch results from your surveys, providing you with lower cost-per-questionnaire and at more than one point during your research project.
When research results needed to be collected, categorized, and tallied manually or even semi-manually, there was always significant room for human error. In addition, surveys that were incomplete, illegible or from unqualified participants needed to be removed. Failure to do so effectively added potential errors to results.
When you rely on a vetted online market research firm, much of the technology and expertise available today can significantly reduce errors in a market research effort. For example, a double opt-in survey participant screening can be conducted effectively today with the use of technology and will more accurately kick out inappropriate participants. Responses recorded online are sent directly to a central system that can immediately process the information, without having to go through a middle stage of entry, interpretation, or editing.
Even more qualitative data collection such as interviews, focus groups or open-ended questions can be coded and programmed in a more reliable and consistent manner.
Anytime you have a large, potentially complex project such as a market research program, you’re bound to run into unanticipated problems, issues and headaches. Many of these stresses are associated with wading through the incredible number of possibilities and directions that you could explore in a research project—and the associated time and costs with each one.
By working with a professional online market research firm, you can piggyback on its extensive knowledge and experience. Professionals can ask the right questions to help you prioritize the number one problem or issue you want your research to solve. Then, they can help you pinpoint the right technology, questionnaire development, and audience identification tools to help you reach your goals within your budget and time frame.
Online research services bring a wealth of flexibility and options to the table at a reasonable cost and can deliver in a much shorter time period than in the past, which helps reduce headaches and stress for everyone.
One of the worst experiences in market research is getting part way through your survey and realizing that you’re heading in the wrong direction, have left out an important question, or are not getting the results you need. The only thing worse, perhaps, is getting to the end of a lengthy research effort to find that the market landscape has changed and made your original objectives obsolete.
Online market research, on the other hand, is much more versatile. Not only can you easily conduct a small sample, run A/B testing, or collect preliminary results before launching your main project, but you can also tweak, add, and edit your project along the way. Since results are easily compiled through software solutions, you can look at a snapshot at any point of your project and make decisions about continuing your current line of questioning, the number of respondents, or the focus of your entire project.
Since the entire online market research project from start to finish should be relatively short, your results will be more likely to be relevant to help you solve the initial problem you set out to address at the very beginning.
As you can see, online market research efforts are just as or more effective than traditional market research projects today. If you’ve shied away from asking the tough questions to your prospects, customers, suppliers, business partners, or other stakeholders because of a perception of the significant costs, time and stress involved, it’s time to take a second look.
Jim Whaley is CEO of OvationMR and posts frequently on The Standard Ovation and other Industry Blogs.
Ovation MR is a global provider of first party data for those seeking solutions that require data for informed business decisions. Ovation MR is a leader in delivering insights and reliable data across a variety of industry sectors around the globe consistently for market research professionals and management consultants. Visit: https://www.ovationmr.com