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GuidesMarket researchHow to use market surveys to gather actionable insights

How to use market surveys to gather actionable insights

Last updated

1 April 2024

Reviewed by

Cathy Heath

New to market surveys? Follow this guide to take the guesswork out of your next product or service launch with easy-to-build market surveys that will get you the data you need.

Effective market research is the backbone of successful marketing initiatives and brand expansions. As a way of peering into the (metaphorical) crystal ball that holds valuable insights about your target audience, market research helps to remove the smoke, mirrors, and confusion surrounding the needs, wants, and expectations of your top customers.

As one of the most effective research methods, many businesses use market surveys as their primary data collection tool. Whether your team is looking to improve existing client offerings or wants to redesign your current products or services, collecting market research will be an essential part of your project’s success.

Your team must facilitate regular market research to understand your target market. Covering everything you need to know, use this guide to get you started down the path of high-quality market research and insight collection. 

Let’s get into it!

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What are market surveys?

A market survey is a tool used to collect information and data from a set group of people. Often sent to existing customers, surveys for market research can help your team learn valuable information about your target audience and chosen market.

When used correctly, a market survey will provide your team with data and insights, including:

  • Demographic information of your top customers

  • The needs and wants of your target audience

  • Any pain points or issues with your current product or service

  • Competitor brands that your customers also use

  • Trends and information about your target market

Market research vs. marketing research

Despite sounding quite similar, market research and marketing research are two different terms:

Market research

As the primary subject of this article, market research is the practice of collecting and analyzing information from a specific target audience or customer base. It’s commonly done as part of UX research and gives the company better insights into the needs and wants of its customers. Market surveys are some of the most widely used tools to conduct this type of research.

Marketing research

Alternatively, marketing research focuses more on reporting on information specifically related to marketing efforts. This type of research is often focused on gaining insights about new or upcoming marketing messaging, campaign launches, and more. A/B testing packaging, surveying customers, and price trialing are examples of marketing research.

The benefits of surveys for market research

Market surveys are popular across all industries due to their ease of use and efficient data collection capabilities. As your team begins to develop your market research strategy, here are a few reasons why you should consider using market surveys as part of your plan:

Gain insights for potential future products

Instead of blindly creating a new product or service that you think your customers will like, use market research surveys to create exactly what they’re looking for from the start.

Brand loyalty is built through trust and collaboration with your customers. By inviting them into the process (by getting them to share their experiences and preferences), your team not only gains direct feedback about how to move forward but also creates a sense of community and appreciation. 

Using open-ended questions as part of your market research surveys allows your customers to talk about their preferences, experiences, and desires for your brand. This allows their needs and concerns to be heard while providing you with a road map for future success. Talk about a win-win!

Analyze your competitors

Do you know where your brand measures up compared to other competitors in your industry? Learn why your customers choose you (and why others opt for your competitors) with well-crafted surveys for market research.

No matter the industry your company works within, there is always competition between different brands. Help your business stand out from the others by conducting regular market research about your target audience’s experiences—giving you great insights about where your offerings currently stand and what you can do to improve and better serve your customers.

Test your marketing efforts before the big launch

Don’t blow your marketing budget on a campaign that isn’t going to land with your target audience. Instead, top-performing teams use market research surveys to A/B test ideas and storylines within their marketing materials before the big launch—and the results are worth the extra effort!

Focus groups, customer interviews, and small-batch surveys are great ways to learn more about the effectiveness of your current marketing materials. When done currently, your market surveys will give you direct insights into the wording and phrasing used to convey their primary concerns (something that will go a long way for relatability while boosting your conversion rates). 

Everyone wants to be heard and understood—so use your market surveys to connect and listen to your target audience to enhance your next marketing campaign.

Create fresh content that connects

Creating high-quality content is hard—especially if you operate within a narrow niche. If your company uses content marketing to connect with its target audience, marketing surveys can be incredibly valuable. 

Instead of racking your brain to find content ideas that you think will resonate with your target audience, your team can use market surveys to get ideas, perspectives, and stories that can be turned into earnest and compelling content for your brand. 

Sending out a market survey asking for opinions or ideas for content is a surprisingly easy (and effective) way to build a winning content strategy—and we highly recommend adding it to your current marketing strategy!

Understand customer sentiment

How do your customer base and the general public feel about your brand? If you don’t have a clear answer to this question, you need to use well-crafted market surveys to find out.

The way your customers perceive your brand, products, and services has a dramatic impact on the success of your business. Customer sentiment analysis (which can be part of your market research strategy) is a great way to explore this topic—giving you direct insights into the experiences and sentiments about your offerings. Often sent after a purchase or speaking with a customer service representative, this type of market survey helps your team stay on top of your public image. 

If you start noticing an influx of negative reviews, you know it’s time to change. If your brand is well-loved, you need to focus on initiatives supporting and fostering this sentiment further. 

But, without market research surveys, your team will be unaware of customer sentiment, making all decisions reactionary and late rather than as part of your day-to-day decision-making process and strategy.

Types of market surveys (with examples)

Now that we have explored the incredible value that market research surveys can bring to your team, let’s jump into some of the most common types of surveys used by businesses looking to learn more about their chosen market:

Market description surveys

Market description surveys determine the size and interests of a particular niche segment. When done correctly, market description surveys will give your team insights into the following:

  • Potential market growth

  • Existing competitors within the space

  • The core issues and problems this market is looking to address

Market description surveys are often sent out to a large number of participants to collect data from a wide range of sources. This type of survey is great to implement during the early stages of a new project, as you can use any of the feedback quickly to improve your business. 

To better understand possible questions to ask (and how to order and organize your survey), we recommend checking out this market analysis survey template from SurveyMonkey. As it’s designed to survey a potential client, only a few minor tweaks are needed to turn this survey into a customer-facing resource that your team can use to learn more about your target audience.

Market segmentation surveys

Market segmentation surveys are created to learn more about the specifics of your target audience. Who are they, and who is not a part of this group, and why? What do they like, and what do they need now and into the future?  

By sending market segmentation surveys to your customers and target audience, your team will gain information about:

  • The different types of people within your chosen market

  • Market demographic, including age, geographic location, income and gender

  • Your customer’s primary wants and preferences

  • Your customer’s pain points and concerns

To create better quality products and services that resonate with your target audience, you first need to understand who they are. Using a market segmentation survey template from SurveyMonkey, your team will be able to segment your market into groups based on shared interests and preferences—allowing you to create more personalized and detailed offerings and marketing campaigns that will convert.

Purchase tracking surveys

Market research surveys can understand and track your customer’s purchase experience and habits. They can highlight each customer’s journey, from learning about your product to paying for your product or service. Purchase tracking surveys provide insights into:

  • How your customers became aware of your brand

  • The impact of marketing campaigns

  • Customer purchase behavior (including the likelihood of repurchase)

  • Pain points or barriers that prevent customers from buying

Understanding your customer’s path to purchase and experience with your brand is essential for long-term brand success. We recommend using the SurveyMonkey purchase tracking survey template to get started with effective customer purchase tracking research. 

Just adapt the questions to your specific customer base and set the survey to be sent a few days after a purchase—you will be blown away by the amount of information you can collect!

Common market survey mistakes to avoid

Using the information and templates provided throughout this article, your team can now create and distribute market surveys to your customers and chosen market. To get the most out of your efforts (and to avoid mistakes that can diminish the value of your surveys), here are a few of our top market research survey mistakes you should avoid:

Choosing the wrong audience

No matter how well you write your market survey questions, if you send the content to the wrong group of people, you will not collect helpful information. 

To avoid this fate, spending extra time identifying your target audience can be helpful. Whether you do this through team brainstorming sessions, smaller custom research projects, or by segmenting your already existing target audience, these efforts will be tremendously helpful for getting accurate and nuanced insights from your surveys down the line.

Using the wrong sample size

The number of people you survey will significantly impact the quality and accuracy of the results you receive—and should be something your team is aware of before you even send out your first market research survey!

To determine what size of sample size will be best suited for your project, you first need to think about the type of information you are looking to collect:

Generalized market analysis

Broad-scoped research projects need a large number of participants to provide an accurate portrayal of your target audience. If your team wants to learn more about a new market, making sure you send and receive surveys from a large sample size will be essential. 

Collecting customer demographics and exploring purchasing behaviors are two examples of market research categories that require a larger sample size to give reliable results.

User experience

Alternatively, anecdotal and personalized information is often more beneficial when provided by a smaller (but high-quality) group of participants. Instead of collecting large amounts of vague information from a bigger group, interviewing or surveying a smaller group of qualified people can provide specific and detailed insights into the experiences of your top customers. 

Learning more about product or service pain points or exploring the reception to a new feature are examples of market research projects that can benefit from a smaller sample size.

Not optimizing survey send times

How (and when) you send your market research surveys to your target audience matters.

Demographic surveys can be sent to new subscribers, ideally during the workday, to prevent notification during the evening or at night. Ensure that your surveys get seen and completed by factoring in send time into your strategy. If you collect post-purchase data, send your survey after a recent purchase. 

Whenever you ask your customers to complete a survey, you’re asking for a favor. So, do your best to be appreciative and polite—and always avoid sending too much email spam!

Writing unclear survey questions

Possibly one of the most commonly made mistakes when beginning market research is writing confusing and non-specific questions for surveys.

The questions you choose to add to your survey should be intentional—meaning that they have gone through rounds of editing and prioritization to be clear and compelling to your audience while providing your team with insightful and specific data.

We highly recommend hosting a brainstorming session for potential survey questions with your team. After you have written out as many ideas and iterations for questions as you can, spend the time to rewrite, reorganize, and rate the strength of each question you want to include in your survey. Only the best of the best should make the cut—making your survey short, sweet, and impactful.

Maximize your market research insights

Using this guide, we hope your team now understands the importance of market research on the success of your upcoming lunch or brand redesign. No matter the size of your company, taking the time to learn more about your chosen market will always improve your offerings—so we encourage you to get started as soon as possible!

But, once you get started, the fun has only just begun. Market surveys are an excellent tool for gathering information about your target audience—but how can you get the most out of the data you have collected?

A customer insights hub can give your team access to customer insights, no matter the type of data you want to collect and analyze. Made to store your market research data in an accessible and flexible way, use it to infuse customer insights seamlessly into your existing workflow.

We hope you found this guide helpful—now get out there and create high-quality market surveys!

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