Marketers often refer to primary research when they can’t find adequate answers from secondary research. After all, they can collect data that are tailored to a particular challenge or problem that they’re trying to address.
There are various primary market research methods. Now, the timing and the type of information you need will determine the approach you need to take. Other factors like budget and project resources come into play.
What Are the Best Primary Market Research Methods?
Under primary market research methods, you get to choose from two approaches – qualitative and quantitative. When it comes to qualitative research, you need to describe and understand participant behavior. You collect information by using open-ended questions. Meanwhile, quantitative research involves gathering data that you can statistically analyze and numerically present.
Now, there are different ways you can conduct qualitative and quantitative research. Here are the types of primary research techniques you can try:
- Qualitative research – focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, and observational research
- Quantitative research – surveys, social listening, and experimental research
1. Focus Group Discussions
Focus group discussions are among the most popular primary market research methods. In focus group research, you need to assemble a small group and let individuals provide feedback and answer questions. This technique allows you to get insights from participants while they’re interacting with each other. As a result, you’ll also see how they respond and behave in a group.
The Challenges of Conducting Focus Group Discussions
Primary market research methods are still far from perfect. In focus groups, it’s common for one or multiple respondents to dominate the conversation. Naturally, this will discourage other people from participating with the same energy. Aside from that, some groups begin to think in unison. One participant may be conversant enough to influence the views of the rest of the participants.
Tips for Handling Focus Group Discussions
You’ll need a skilled facilitator to ensure an effective focus group discussion. This person should be able to motivate every participant to join the conversation. What’s more, they should listen actively to ensure that they can ask relevant follow-up questions that will add value to the data.
Aside from encouraging participation, the facilitator must make sure that the respondents stay within the topic to get the necessary insights. Of course, they shouldn’t inject their biases just to get the answers that they want.
Early in the discussion, the most important questions should be brought up. The facilitator must prepare a discussion guide to ensure that all questions will be covered within the set time. The guide should also follow a logical path to keep the participants in the group engaged.
How to Hold a Virtual Focus Group Discussion
With the World Health Organization declaring that COVID-19 remains a global emergency, it’s best to hold focus group discussions virtually. Online video conferencing apps are great for this purpose, but make sure that people don’t talk over each other. The facilitator should put everyone on mute and let the participants speak when they’re asked to.
The chat feature can also be used for discussions, especially if an individual wants to add something. They can also click the ‘raise hand’ button to inform the facilitator that they wish to speak.
2. In-Depth Interviews
With in-depth interviews, marketing researchers can go deeper into the topics by understanding the individuals involved better. Usually, this approach requires you to target individuals with specific characteristics fit for the topic.
Let’s say a pharmaceutical company aims to understand why medical doctors prescribe certain drugs for particular medical conditions. In this case, they need to find physicians who specialize in that specific field. Another example would be a software company wanting to discover the improvements they can make on their product or service. They would have to interview a heavy user and ask them about the limitations they see in the product.
The Challenges in Handling In-Depth Interviews
The cost is the primary disadvantage in handling in-depth interviews. Researchers would have to allot a budget for compensating an experienced interviewer. What’s more, they need to provide incentives for the participants. It’s also worth noting that the compensation will depend on the characteristics a researcher is targeting.
For instance, if you want to get insights from a busy lawyer, you may have to offer enough to compensate them for their time. Now, if you want an in-depth interview with a cash-strapped college student, the incentives might not be as much.
Tips on Conducting In-Depth Interviews
For an in-depth interview to be efficient and comprehensive, the researcher will need a discussion guide. They will ask questions and actively listen to the responses to come up with follow-up questions that provide additional insights and clarity.
It is also important to consider the length of the interview. In reality, if the conversation goes beyond 30 minutes, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep the participant deeply engaged. As such, it’s critical for the facilitator to keep the topics and discussion guide focused. This way, they can cover key questions within the allotted time.
How to Hold In-Depth Interviews Virtually
Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Skype are some of the best video conferencing tools you can use to conduct online, in-depth interviews. You can also record the interview and turn to GoTranscript for 100% human-generated transcriptions. By getting legal-grade accuracy in the text, you can easily find important insights for your research.
3. Observational Research
Another type of qualitative research approach is observational research. When using this method, you understand how subjects behave by listening, watching, and paying attention to their actions. You can take this approach by monitoring buying habits or by gathering information. Researchers can also establish a setting and watch how consumers interact with it. Moreover, you can look at product returns and complaints to understand market insights.
Tips for Conducting Observational Research
The first thing you need to do is choose subjects that accurately represent your customer base. Moreover, you should prepare a list of insights you want to observe before going into the research sessions. It’s also critical to know if informing subjects about the research will be useful. After all, when people know that they’re being monitored, their behavior may change.
How to Conduct Virtual Observational Research
Market researchers can collect information and observe subjects by using biofeedback systems or video camera connections. You can also see how participants interact within an online environment or a website by using a heat map program or eye-tracking software.
Another option is to ask the user for real-time feedback. Let’s say you want to learn about a user’s experience on a website. You can let the subject share their screen while interacting with the site. This way, you can see their feedback and reactions in real-time.
Surveys are among the most popular quantitative-type primary market research methods. When you take this approach, the participants get the same questions. In most cases, the questions are close-ended with responses that can be ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The answers can also be on a scale ranking or based on multiple choices. However, there are situations wherein open-ended questions can also be useful. In such cases, the subjects can provide a more comprehensive answer to the questions provided.
What’s great about large-scale surveys is that the findings can be released to the public for wider use. Researchers can even use the results to develop content marketing tools that help them build authority and credibility in the industry.
Tips for Conducting Effective Surveys
Before conducting the survey, you need to screen the participants to get the right sample population. As such, you must carefully choose the demographic for your topic. Otherwise, getting answers from the wrong samples will skew your results.
It can be difficult to keep participants engaged. So, the survey questionnaire should be interesting enough to motivate them to answer all the items. What’s more, it shouldn’t jump around topics and create confusion among the subjects. The questions should be easy to follow and logical to ensure that the participants stay on track.
The questions should also be simple and easy to understand. Ideally, you need to use close-ended questions. However, if necessary, add a few open-ended questions. When survey questionnaires are user-friendly, it’s also easier for researchers to collect data for comparing trends. Once you get the results, you can conduct a statistical analysis to determine the accuracy of the findings.
How to Conduct Virtual Surveys
Before, surveys were done over the phone, by mail, or in person as one of the preferred primary market research methods. However, these days, it’s easier to conduct them online using tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. Now, if you want a more personal approach, you can also ask the participants to answer the questions via a video conferencing app.
5. Social Media Measurement
Marketers can directly access consumer opinions through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Consumers usually post their insights on brands and businesses on these sites. Reddit and Quora can also be virtual spaces where market researchers can ask questions ang get public opinions.
Tips for Conducting Social Listening
Social media measurement is one of the quantitative primary market research methods. Even so, it can still be done observationally. Researchers can track hashtags or subjects to understand consumer behavior. However, if you want to be more proactive, you can tap influencers or content creators to get their insights on certain topics.
For instance, you can reach out to your target audience and create a private social media group for them. After that, organize a focus group discussion where the participants can interact while answering specific questions.
How to Conduct Social Media Measurement
You can aggregate data like trending topics and mentions by using various social listening tools. Brandwatch and Sprout Social are some of the most popular options. However, you can also create polls on Twitter and Facebook to get insights from your target audience.
6. Experimental Research
If you prefer using a test marketing format, go for experimental research. You can manipulate factors by conducting A/B tests that allow you to compare results. One example is showing participants different versions of email campaigns or landing pages. You will know which option can attract higher engagement. You can also discover insights about customers and leads by conducting A/B tests for digital advertising campaigns.
Experimental research is not only for websites and email campaigns. You can also use it to test physical products. For instance, if you’re conducting research for a skincare company, you can recruit subjects to use the products and monitor the results. Ask one group to use your client’s product while the other will use items from a competitor. Later on, when you promote the product, you can use the test results as marketing materials.
Tips for Conducting Experimental Research
Remember to follow ethical guidelines when conducting experimental guidelines or using any primary market research methods. In most cases, it’s critical to get consent from the participants and let them know that they are subject to an experiment. It’s not a big deal if you’re working on marketing experiments like redesigning landing pages.
However, if the trials can affect the physical and mental health of the individual, you need to disclose the effects. It’s always best to get legal counsel before starting any form of experimental research.
How to Conduct an Online Experimental Research
If you’re running A/B tests for landing pages or email campaigns, you can use HubSpot or other similar marketing tools. Ideally, you should only change one prominent feature. Making too many changes will make it difficult to identify which element affected the results.
Analyze Primary Market Research Interviews with Accurate Transcriptions
Which of the primary market research methods do you prefer? Do you plan to conduct in-depth interviews or focus group discussions? If so, then make data analysis easier and time-efficient by getting GoTranscript’s transcription services. You’ll get insights quickly from your qualitative data by using 100% human-generated interview transcripts.