I wrote a blog earlier this year about how to find your ideal customer, which centered on defining your audience. In this blog, I want to hone in on how to conduct customer research without breaking the bank. Before you even consider a tool, you’ll need to identify what type of research you want to conduct. There are many types of research surveys to think about. Here are just a few to consider:

Research Categories:

  1. Product Research – If you’re launching a first-to-market product, don’t assume anything about the consumer. Budget for product research in your market. Examples of product research can be usability for apps and online tools all the way to flavors an ice creamery is going to offer.
  2. Audience Research – Audience research is focused on uncovering who is watching, listening, seeing or consuming media (TV, radio, print, bill boards, digital and social media). These studies will tell you which media types are popular with various types of consumers.
  3. Brand Analysis – Brand Analysis is aimed at finding out who is using your brand and their preference to your brand over the competition. Loyalty and how consumers identify with your brand are just a few examples of what this type of research offers.
  4. Consumer Profiling – Consumer profiling is concentrated on creating profiles by consumer lifestyle, income, preferences and connecting buying habits to the market and media.
  5. Customer Satisfaction – Customer satisfaction are typically surveys conducted after a consumer uses a product or service to determine their level of satisfaction. Many companies use email as an inexpensive way to continually up their level of experience and how they provide services to their client base.
  6. Mystery Shopping – Mystery shopping typically involves paying existing or non-customers to “shop” your brand and provide your business with their un-biased experience and feedback. There are several companies that provide these types of services. 

Types of Research Tools and Services

Instantly provides you with an easy-to-use interface and a survey tool where you can build simple or complex surveys to your own audience for free, as well as offer you a rich target audience at a fee for you to access.

AYTM (Ask Your Target Market) is one of the leaders in online market research. They provide a database of over 25 million respondents globally. Pricing depends on what you want to do. Their Define Your Target Market page will help you gauge how much your survey will cost depending on your business needs.

GutCheck offers an online market research solution that helps you get a fast, quick read on new products, business questions or consumer research before you launch. They will also design customized research studies that help businesses plan for getting ahead of the competition.

Google Consumer Surveys offers an online easy-to-create customer survey. If you use their Standard Survey feature pricing starts at $1.10 to $3.50 for 2 to 10 questions. Custom Surveys start at $2,000.

Survey Monkey is a well-known email survey tool that has many varieties of pre-defined email surveys. This tool allows you to conduct your own surveys. The basic tool is free for as little as $26 a month you can email up to 1,000 respondents. Survey Monkey also offers an audience survey service similar to AYTM and others.

All of these research categories and tools apply to both B2C and B2B businesses. Next time you get that “gut feeling,” go the extra mile and find a way to use research and data to validate your next move.