Marketing Research: 14 Best Practices

Market research is the process of gathering information, analyzing it, and using it to improve your marketing strategy. 

This information can help you understand your target audience better, determine what they’re looking for from your product or service, and discover how you can stand out from the competition. 

Market research may seem complicated on its face, but there are plenty of tools available that can make the entire process much easier for businesses. As a result, successful market research doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming.

5 Insights for Running Effective Marketing Research Surveys
Key Takeaways
1. Implement a storytelling approach in your marketing research to engage and resonate with your audience.
2. Utilize both qualitative and quantitative research methods to gather comprehensive insights.
3. Prioritize consumer insights to understand their needs, preferences, and behaviors.
4. Avoid common mistakes by ensuring proper survey design and accurate data collection.
5. Embrace data visualization techniques to present complex findings in a clear and compelling manner.
6. Leverage market segmentation to target specific customer groups effectively.
7. Incorporate both online and offline research methods to capture a broader perspective.
8. Keep up with emerging trends and technologies to stay relevant in the evolving market landscape.
9. Establish a strong research panel and maintain regular communication for valuable insights.
10. Apply strategic marketing research to make informed decisions that drive business growth.

1. Think Of Your Audience First

Before you start your research, it’s important to think about your audience. Who are they? What do they want to know about the product or service being offered? What are their fears and concerns in this area? 

What are their worries, confusions, and questions related to the topic at hand? Once you understand these points of interest for your target group, it will be much easier for you to write down a list of questions that will help uncover information from them.

Conducting thorough market research is crucial for making informed business decisions. If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide, check out How to Conduct Market Research in 14 Easy Steps to ensure you gather accurate insights that drive success.

2. Don’t Ask Leading Questions

Don’t ask leading questions. A leading question is one that suggests how the respondent should answer, usually by employing a lot of “do you” statements. For example: “Do you have a smartphone?” instead of “What kind of mobile device do you own?”

Don’t ask questions that imply a specific answer. For example: “You must be tired after spending all day at work, right?”

Don’t ask questions that require only yes or no answers. For example: “Do you like puppies?” 

This can lead to inaccurate results because it forces the participant to choose between two extremes on an issue when there may be many shades in between (i.e., people who strongly dislike puppies but like them somewhat). 

Instead of asking this type of question, offer your respondents multiple choice options with more than two answers if possible and allow them to pick their degree of agreement (or disagreement) from 1 = strongly disagree through 7 = strongly agree).

3. Understand The Difference Between Qualitative And Quantitative Research

Qualitative research is more focused on the meaning behind the data, while quantitative research focuses on collecting more data.

Qualitative research can be done in a variety of ways: through interviews, focus groups, or surveys. Qualitative researchers tend to ask open-ended questions and probe further once they have an answer to see if it gives insight into other areas. 

Quantitative researchers generally do not use open-ended questions because they are looking for specific information that can be counted or measured (e.g., yes/no responses). 

Instead of asking open-ended questions, quantitative researchers might ask respondents to rate something from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest), or choose between two options such as yes/no or agree/disagree.

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4. Use An Answer Scale

Answer scales are the most common survey design tool and should be used whenever possible. They provide structure for respondents but still allow them to respond in their own words, giving you better insight into how they perceive your question.

Choose an Appropriate Scale For Your Question

Using a 5-point Likert scale when an 11-point one would be more accurate will only confuse respondents and give you inaccurate data. 

Similarly, if you have multiple questions on a topic that require specific answers (e.g., “When do you prefer A?”), make sure they are all using similar scales so respondents don’t get confused by the different options presented in each question. Make sure it’s easy to understand

If people don’t understand what they’re being asked or how they’re supposed to answer, they won’t be able to give meaningful responses which could result in misleading results.

Consider who your target audience will be when deciding which type of scale makes sense for this research project; sometimes it’s best not to try anything new just because it’s available!

5. Write In The Active Voice

You may not realize it, but the way you write your research report can greatly affect how well your study is received. When writing in a passive voice (e.g., “The data were collected from 25 participants”), your report comes off as impersonal and even boring.

On the other hand, using active voice (“We collected data from 25 participants”) makes your work more engaging and direct and research shows that readers tend to be more attracted to active language than passive. 

This is because using an active voice helps guide readers through complicated information by making it easier for them to follow along with what was done and why certain decisions were made during the study process. 

It also makes for shorter sentences and paragraphs so that readers don’t get bored or lose focus on what’s being said!

Recognizing and addressing the flaws in marketing research is vital for improving the quality of insights. Dive into the article on 15 Flaws of Marketing Research and How to Fix Them to enhance the accuracy and reliability of your research methodologies.

6. Test Your Survey Before Sending It To Respondents

The most common reason for receiving poor response rates is a poorly designed survey. Before sending out your survey, take some time to test it on yourself and others who can provide honest feedback about its effectiveness in terms of length, clarity, and flow. 

The most important thing to remember when conducting this type of survey test is that you want participants who have no prior knowledge of the topic at hand so they do not pre-judge information based on assumptions they may or may not be aware they’re making.

7. Don’t Be Afraid To Keep Things Simple

When you’re creating a survey, you want to be sure that you’re not asking too many questions or going overboard with the number of questions. Don’t ask unnecessary questions that don’t apply to your audience and keep it short and sweet.

Make sure that you are being clear in what each question is asking and ensuring that there are no ambiguities or double-meanings within your survey language. 

Also, make sure that any jargon used is explained fully in case someone reading over the results does not understand it (e.g., “inbound marketing”).

8. Test Different Survey Lengths

While there is no one best survey length, it’s important to test different lengths for different audiences, topics, incentives, and formats. First, decide what you need to learn from the research: Do you want to know if people would buy a product? 

Or do you want to know how they feel about an issue? Then consider where they are in the buying process. You may have noticed that longer surveys tend to be more effective among existing customers than new prospects.

For example, we recently conducted a research project for a client who wanted help understanding why some of their customers were leaving them for competitors. 

Since these customers were technically still part of their target audience (and not yet gone), we used shorter surveys so that participants would be more likely to complete them no one wants their time wasted!

But when we were working with another client who wanted us to better understand how their current partners viewed them and how satisfied those partners were with our service offerings.

We chose longer surveys because it made sense given this audience’s stage in the buying process; i.e., these companies had already worked with our clients on several projects but weren’t yet ready or willing commit long-term contracts like our other clients had been (yet).

Sometimes, marketing research can reveal inconvenient truths that businesses must face. Discover more about this aspect in the article titled The Inconvenient Truth of Marketing Research and understand how to navigate challenging findings effectively.

9. Skip Logic Is Vital For Avoiding Survey Fatigue

Skip logic is vital for avoiding survey fatigue. When you create a questionnaire, you must do everything possible to avoid having users leave the survey before they’ve answered all of the questions. 

Skip logic is one tool that helps with this problem by allowing users who are not interested in answering certain questions (or don’t think they have a good answer) to skip them altogether and move on with their lives.

This can be done in many ways:

If a question doesn’t apply to the user, allow them to skip it easily. This might include questions about age or income level if those things aren’t relevant for your research project or service offering, or demographic data if it isn’t necessary for this particular study.

If there are multiple questions within one section and only one is relevant, allow them to move through those sections quickly by making sure that only one question per section shows up at once.

So if someone answers “yes” on question #1 but then clicks through and sees question #2 pop up first without any indication of which order they should follow (and no indication as far as how often people click through).

They could easily get confused and accidentally answer incorrectly because they saw something else first!

10. Keep The Look Consistent Throughout Your Survey

When you are designing the look of your survey, keep it consistent. Use a single font for all questions and headings, and choose one color scheme for the entire survey. Also, be sure to use the same background throughout your survey so that it maintains a cohesive appearance.

You should also be consistent when deciding which images and symbols you will use in your survey design. 

For example, if you use an image of an apple to represent “yes” responses on some questions and an orange icon to represent “no” responses on other questions, then don’t mix up those meanings with different kinds of apples or oranges!

11. Make Sure You Are Asking Sufficient Demographic Questions Up Front

When you start your research process, there are a few things you need to know about demographics.

First, it’s important to understand the audience and the sample size of your research. If you don’t ask enough demographic questions upfront.

Then it becomes difficult for your researcher to get a good understanding of these two things and that can lead them to make some bad assumptions about their data later on in their analysis.

Second, if you don’t have enough demographic information or don’t include the right kind of demographics in your survey results (like gender or age).

Then those findings will be unreliable and not very helpful when it comes time for interpretation by decision-makers within an organization like yours!

12. Include A Progress Bar In Your Survey

A progress bar is one of the best ways to keep your respondents engaged, especially if you’re asking them questions that could be considered tedious or time-consuming. A progress bar lets them know how long it will take for them to complete the survey and when they’ll have finished.

It’s also important for you as a marketer because it allows you to track precisely how long it takes for each person who responds to your survey to finish and report back on their completed responses. 

This information can be useful in helping you determine when most people are starting and finishing their surveys so that they’re not wasting too much time or effort on something no one cares about.

13. Conduct Focus Groups Before You Write Your Survey Questions

While focus groups aren’t a replacement for well-designed surveys, they can help you find out what respondents are thinking about your questions. Focus groups are an excellent way to get feedback on the wording and context of your survey questions. 

They also give you valuable insights into how people respond emotionally to those questions. And if you’re designing an experiment or test, focus groups can help you get a sense of how people interpret the instructions and what they expect from participating in the test.

Surveys aren’t just about testing hypotheses: they’re also about gaining insight into human behavior. 

Focus groups are one way to do this; using them as part of your research process means that when someone responds to one of your surveys, later on, their answers will be more meaningful and more likely accurate!

Are you targeting an in-demand market? Marketing research can be your guide. Learn how to access valuable insights in the article How Marketing Research Can Help You Gain Access to an In-Demand Market to ensure your strategies align with market trends and preferences.

14. Try A Two-Step Confirmation Process For Sensitive Topics

Use a two-step confirmation process for sensitive topics. This is an extra step that helps to avoid survey fatigue, which is when respondents get fed up with answering questions and quit the survey early.

To set up a two-step confirmation process:

Ask the respondent to confirm his or her email address in the first step of your questionnaire.

Give them an option to skip this if they don’t want to give their email address (or if it’s already been given). 

Then ask for more information about them (such as age, gender, and income level), as well as some basic demographic information like where they live and how long they’ve lived there. 

Afterward, you can ask them more detailed questions about their preferences or opinions on different topics these are often referred to as “soft” questions.

Because they’re not related directly back to their buying habits but rather give insight into why consumers make decisions based on different factors like lifestyle choices or social pressures from friends or family members.

“Finally,” says Ms. Salas -Garrido “you should test out different types of headings,” she explains  “because what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.”


In this post, we’ve tried to cover a lot of ground to give you a good overview of the best practices for marketing research. We hope that you were able to find at least one or two tips that will be helpful for your work. 

As with any form of research, there is no one-size-fits-all approach or method, but if you keep these 30 best practices in mind when planning your next campaign, you should have no trouble crafting a strategy that yields results!

Further Reading

Explore these additional resources to deepen your understanding of market research:

14 Cheap Ways to Do Market Research for Your Small Business: Discover budget-friendly methods to gather valuable insights about your target audience and industry trends.

Market Research Guide by Qualtrics: Delve into a comprehensive guide that covers the fundamentals of market research, from planning to data analysis.

Market Research Buyer’s Journey Guide: Learn how to conduct effective market research at different stages of the buyer’s journey, enhancing your decision-making process.


What are some affordable ways to conduct market research for a small business?

You can explore cost-effective strategies like surveys, social media monitoring, and competitor analysis to gather insights about your market without breaking the bank.

How can I effectively manage the market research process?

Managing market research involves careful planning, data collection, analysis, and interpretation to make informed decisions that align with your business goals.

What role does the buyer’s journey play in market research?

Understanding the buyer’s journey helps tailor your market research to specific stages, providing insights into customer needs, preferences, and pain points.

What are some online tools available for market research?

Online tools like surveys, analytics platforms, and social listening tools can help gather and analyze data to inform your market research strategies.

How can market research contribute to business growth?

Market research provides insights into customer behavior, market trends, and competition, enabling businesses to refine their strategies, enhance products, and identify growth opportunities.