Market Research Process: 6 Steps to Project Success

Did you know there are 6 steps in the market research process?  While this process speaks directly to marketing research professionals, the process applies to HR, customer or education surveys as well:

  1. Identify and define the problem.

    Before you start any web survey project, you should identify the key issues you hope to be able to solve.  This step should also include clearly defined objectives.
  2. Develop the approach.

    In this step, you need to establish a budget, understand influencing factors such as the environment or economy, decide on sampling and survey methods, and formulating hypotheses.
  3. Research design.

    Designing a survey or questionnaire is considered the most important step in any survey process.  Question design takes a lot of thought and time.  We like to say, "If you put garbage in, you'll get garbage out."  This means that if the questions are bad, the data will be bad as well.  During the survey research design, keep in mind sampling methods and data analysis factors you intend to use.
  4. Collect the data.

    Don't forget to test your survey before to ensure you're fielding the correct data.  Thankfully, with the help of an online survey tool, this step is relatively painless.
  5. Analyze the Data.

    The types of analysis you planned to perform on the collected survey data should have been decided in earlier steps, but after collecting the data you have to actually perform the survey analysis.  Analysis can be performed using survey analysis tools like office programs, such as Excel, or more advanced programs such as SPSS - the complexity of the questions will determine this.
  6. Report, Present, Take Action.

    The final step in the market research process is to present your survey research findings and draw conclusions.  While Step 3 is the most important because it defines the outcome of your survey, if you fail to complete this last step and act on the findings in some way, the previous steps don't matter. 
As I mentioned in the beginning, this same process can be applied to any type of project: product evaluations, customer satisfaction questionnaires, public relation surveys, etc.  If you give each step the attention it deserves, each of your online surveys should be a success.
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