Marketing Research Process in 8 Steps

When asked to advise clients on whether they should keep marketing research in-house or partner with an agency, you might assume that (human)x would automatically recommend the latter. We do, after all, offer full-service research capabilities, and it can be worthwhile to partner with an agency when you don’t have the in-house expertise, technology, resources, or capacity to deep dive into marketing research.

Successful marketing research begins with gathering a wide scope of information. (human)x recommends gathering a mixture of data across multiple sources, including primary and secondary research, target audience research, and competitor and product research, to develop a complete picture of how your market functions. These data collections then enable you to formulate problems and define your objectives. Marketing research also provides necessary insights into consumer motivation, predicted consumer behavior, the competitive landscape, and the digital environment. In short, marketing research is the key to audience intelligence.

(human)x’s 8-Step Marketing Research Process

We design our research to cater to the unique positions of each of our clients. At (human)x, our mission is to understand your target audience and ensure they’re receiving the right message, on the right channel, at the right time. Are you curious about (human)x’s marketing research process and how it might benefit your brand’s next campaign? Let’s take a closer look at how we use an 8-step approach to provide our clients with optimal marketing research results.

We begin by examining our clients’ status within the digital competitive landscape by comparing their digital property to industry competitors. (human)x provides audits of client websites and SEO (Search Engine Optimization), social media strategy, media and content. Competitive audits enable us to build a well-rounded picture of our clients’ positions within their target markets as well as refine their marketing research strategies.

(human)x’s research team is made up of subject matter experts who have honed their skills both within academia and through hands-on experience in the field. Before diving into new research strategy, our team first considers our clients’ existing research. By examining past data on clients’ target consumers, business models and marketing efforts, (human)x can probe for new opportunities and identify potential gaps. We then take time to define the scope of new research, which includes creating objectives, formulating specific problems, and focusing on intended target audiences.

We then utilize the collected audit and marketing research data to determine a baseline of knowledge for the project, which includes information our client already knows and what has already been established in the industry or competitive landscape. Establishing a performance baseline is essential to ensuring we don’t duplicate previous marketing efforts, as well as measuring the impact of any future efforts. Effective baselines are dynamic, inclusive of all conversions and integrated into all attribution calculations. Baselines also enable our clients to delineate sales fluctuations caused by external factors unrelated to marketing campaigns.

Monitoring and identifying gaps in the market is the best way to explore new opportunities. For example, where can we focus our research to explore disruptions, innovations or hacks to solve our clients’ problems. These gaps can be found by examining existing data on consumer pain points, product reviews or customer service feedback, or they may be located through curiosity. (human)x identifies gaps to give our clients opportunity to rethink existing products or create new products that can fill an industry gap and meet their target audiences with fantastic solutions.

To ensure our data collection is thorough and multifaceted, (human)x interacts directly with consumers through a variety of individualized and personalized methods, including interviews, moderated focus groups, highly focused surveys, social media listening, user testing and Leap Panel. We collect primary data by asking great questions in a variety of formats and situations, all of which are directly correlated to our clients’ goals so that no time is wasted on nonproductive efforts. This mixed-methods approach provides the most well-rounded qualitative and quantitative results that, when combined, provide a detailed picture of target audiences’ needs, wants and pain points.

Data collection methods like surveys and focus groups yield key qualitative data, but these data then needs to be measured statistically, or converted to quantitative data. As a data-driven marketing agency, (human)x converts each client’s qualitative data to measurable metrics that can inform new market potential, identify growth opportunities, and illuminate new channel prospects.

Solid market research requires rigorous analytics to ensure its insights are free of bias, because while quantitative data might seem objective, the humans that analyze it may not be, even without realizing it. As Raconteur Magazine cautions, “Bias is the tombstone of research, and it is hard to cover up. Most people are proud of where they work and have seen first-hand the effort going into products and services. It is human nature to want to defend these efforts and a forgivable, if ruinous, instinct.” (human)x avoids bias by providing our clients with data-backed analyses, including a competitive SWOT analysis and target audience behavior personas.

The (human)x team draws from our rigorous analysis process to deliver actionable insights to our clients. Actionable insights serve to bridge the gap between research and strategy. The most valuable insights are synthesized and presented to our clients for consideration, and together with the (human)x team, our clients are able to make calculated decisions about their marketing strategy.

If your business is searching for a solid plan to level up your marketing research, the 8 key steps outlined above can set your project up for success, regardless of whether you compile your research in-house, partner with a qualified marketing research agency, or choose a combination of the two. And if you do decide to connect with a marketing firm, (human)x is here to do the heavy lifting. Our research is conducted by our team of experts—no middleman or outsourcing. We are always ready to deploy our full-service research capabilities, interpret the outcomes, and present top-notch recommendations that support our clients’ key business objectives and speak directly to our clients’ audience.