The day-to-day craziness of marketing can sometimes prevent us from pausing long enough to examine the big picture. But market research surveys can provide valuable insights into the big picture. Without the full view that results from market research surveys, we risk steering into uncharted territory without a map.
Even when deadlines loom and social media beckons, we need to check in with our customers to get their unbiased feedback.
These six types of surveys are what savvy marketers use regularly to guide their company’s ships to marketing success.
Types of Surveys to Measure Brand Awareness
Generally speaking, these types of surveys are done to create a relative position for your brand among your competitors.
The goal is to determine how many people within your target demographic have heard of your brand versus your competition, the source of their information, and the type of sentiment they’ve attached to your brand’s image.
There are four primary avenues of investigation in these types of market research:
- General Brand Awareness: People are more likely to buy a brand that they can spontaneous recall over one that they must be prompted to name.
- Brand Usage: Common factors in measuring brand usage include how recently consumers have engaged with your product, how often they do so, and their total spending in both the brand and product categories. Brand usage can be used to measure market share as well.
- Brand Attitudes and Perceptions: Conducting these types of surveys can give you insight into your audience’s beliefs about your product’s and company’s attributes and benefits. You may also ask questions related to perceptions about price and value.
- Purchase Intent: Without questions gauging the intent to buy market research can’t be predictive of actual purchase behavior. Make sure you can draw this direct connection by measuring your respondents’ likelihood to buy a brand or switch to a competitor. Include context related to product or brand, reason for purchase, time, channel, price, and any other factors that may affect the intent to purchase.
Gauging Customer Satisfaction Levels With Surveys
Although customer satisfaction scores can be deceptive (many customers rate themselves as “satisfied” or “very satisfied” just before switching to a competitor), it’s still vital to stay connected to your customers with these types of surveys.
To get the best results, however, you should make sure that you’re offering these surveys in the right context and reacting to their responses appropriately.
First ensure that you’re setting the stage the right way by considering the 5 most influential factors for increasing responses to customer satisfaction surveys:
- Target Audience: If you’re trying to conduct market research about a new product, you may only want to survey customers who have used it already. Or your interest may lie only in a particular geographic area. Whatever the goal of your research, make sure you are reaching out to the right segment of your audience.
- Survey Frequency: Survey fatigue is unfortunately an almost ubiquitous cultural phenomenon. Your respondents are likely to already be skeptical of surveys, so make sure you’re not abusing their relationship with your brand by surveying them too often.
- Timing: Most of these types of surveys relate to a customer’s purchase experience; if this is the case, make sure to offer the survey as close to the point of sale as possible. Kiosks near a checkout, a scannable QR code, or a tablet at the store exist can all help improve the survey taking experience and increase your response rate.
- Perceived Benefit: Your customers want to know what’s in it for them when deciding whether or not to take a survey. Assure respondents that their feedback is relevant and that it will be acted on, and then do it!
- Incentive: You can also sweeten the pot by offering those who fill out your survey the chance to win a prize of some kind. Incentives can lower your negative feedback rates, so it can be useful to conduct some market research without them so you can observe the differences in responses and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Aside from having a good system in place to collect data for customer satisfaction surveys, you also need to create an environment where your employees are comfortable administering surveys.
Some companies use these types of surveys to penalize employees, or they tie employees’ promotions and benefits directly to customer feedback.
This can sound like a good way to ensure that employees are giving outstanding customer service, but in reality it can dramatically skew your survey data. Employees will encourage customers only to fill out the surveys with the highest possible scores, and they may even withhold the survey from dissatisfied customers to protect their own ratings.
Obviously these practices will give you an inaccurately rosy view of your customers’ sentiment, and it will prevent these market research surveys from doing their jobs.
Market Research Surveys to Measure Customer Attitudes and Expectations
If you’re trying to determine exactly how to measure your customers’ attitudes, market research studies can help guide you there too.
Before you can ask your customers if they’re satisfied, you need to know what their expectations are about an experience with your product or service. This will help you not only create a more impactful customer satisfaction survey, it can also guide you in make changes to your brand.
You can then track what, if any, impact these changes had in customer attitudes over time.
In addition to driving the creation of customer satisfaction monitoring systems, attitude and expectation surveys can also give you insight into your website’s performance, service policies, names for new divisions or products, and tracking employee attitudes.
Product Research Types of Surveys
Research into customers’ attitudes and expectations often extends into physical product research as well.
Questions on these types of surveys cover a wide variety of product attributes, including:
- Performance in Relation to Expectations: This is a balancing act for marketers; we want our products to exceed expectations, but we also want to position our products as superior to those of our competitors. Market research gives us insight into how well we’re doing in relation to what our customers expect.
- Durability: A great return/refund/exchange system is vital for physical products, but it’s best if customers never need to make use of it. You want to keep an eye on your audience’s attitudes about product durability, because it can directly impact repeat purchases.
- How Well a Product Conforms to Specifications: Particularly for higher end consumer goods, you need to track how well you are communicating your products’ specifications to customers. If there is a disconnect between marketing materials and customers’ perceptions, you should address it right away.
- Features: Your product may have twice as many features as the competition, but if your audience doesn’t know about them they aren’t doing you any good. Conducting product research can help you hone your marketing message to draw attention to your best features.
- Reliability: This component of product research is, like durability, closely related to repeat purchase intent and brand loyalty. You want to make sure that your product (and customer service, if applicable) is perceived as utterly reliable in case of problems.
- Serviceability: And, speaking of problems, you also want to track customer sentiment about getting your product taken care of. If they can only get things fixed via mail, and your shipping takes 6 weeks on either end, your serviceability won’t score well.
Market Research Surveys to Perform a Competitive Analysis
There’s a certain amount of stalking that goes on between close competitors, and glancing around at what others are doing can be a good source of ideas. But don’t forget that even during competitive analysis research your customers need to be your focus.
A few things you may want to consider asking during this type of market research are:
- How do buyers in your market research a purchase?
- Who’s most prominent in that research process: you or your competition?
- Are there content types that carry more weight than others during research?
- Does your marketing address those most important types of content? Does your competitor’s?
- When and how do buyers want to interact with vendors?
- Are there brand awareness issues with your competition that need to be addressed?
Determining Habits and Uses of Core Customer Group
Finally, you may want to conduct some market research surveys to understand how your product or service fits into particular usage situations for your core demographic.
Try to gain insight into consumer habits and trends and see where you (or competitors) belongs in those processes.
These types of surveys can reveal new opportunities where you could become a part of untapped habitual behavior. They can also help your marketing team identify new habits that you could create to start a new need for your product.
Conclusion: Make Market Research a Habit
Use a wide variety of market research surveys to make sure that you don’t lose sight of the bigger environment in which your product lives. The daily tasks of email, writing, and social media are important, but using surveys to routinely reach out to your customer base is also a crucial marketing to-do.