Market research sounds so formal. Yet it doesn’t have to be. It can be part of your daily marketing activity if you adopt one of the best and easiest techniques: simply ask questions.
Asking market research questions can yield new insights to boost your marketing to the next level. One example of market research involves gathering competitive information to inform your new product and service development. Another market research example involves creating clear pictures of your ideal customers — called customer personas –for precise targeting. Other market research examples involve gathering feedback from existing customers to measure customer satisfaction.
The key to success, however, is knowing which questions to ask. Below is a list of 75 market research questions to use as templates for your own questions. Use them to ask questions internally to your team, or ask prospects and clients directly.
Market Research Questions
A good way to start your market research is to size up and describe your target audience. Gather primary and secondary research to assess the following marketing parameters:
- What is the size of our target market? How many potential customers are there?
- Do we have a good set of customer personas developed, to understand ideal target customers?
- Demographic questions: gender, age, ethnicity. Include annual income, education and marital status.
- Firmographic questions: size, industry. Include annual revenues and other relevant factors.
- Psychographic questions: habits, preferences, interests.
- What key consumer trends do we see?
- How do we identify new target segments? How do these new segments differ from those we already have?
- Which neighborhoods and zip codes do we get most of our customers from today?
- Which geographic locations are growing? Are the demographics of growth markets similar to those in which we already operate? If not, what should we change?
- Is online commerce or online service delivery a growth opportunity? Are our competitors doing business online?
- Can we find marketing partners to expand our reach?
Questions to Ask Customers
Use the following as survey questions, either post sale or as post-support surveys. Or use these market research questions to conduct a focus group, interview individual customers, or engage potential customers during the sales process. Make it a point to include respondents who are less than thrilled with your customer service. You learn more than if you only talk with happy customers. Ask:
- How did you hear about us?
- What made you choose us?
- What features do you like most about our product or service?
- Is our product or service easy, fast, convenient to use?
- What do you wish our product or service did that it does not today?
- Are you aware that we offer _________?
- Were our personnel courteous in all dealings?
- Did we answer all your questions or solve your support problem?
- Can we help you get started using our product or service?
- Were you satisfied with our promptness and speed?
- Would you be willing to tell friends, family or colleagues about us?
- How do you rate your experience with us?
- Would you buy from us again?
- Why have you decided to leave us / not renew?
Pricing and Value
The following are pricing research questions to ask. Small business owners and marketers may want to assign someone to do a competitive analysis, such as gathering data from competitor websites and putting it into a spreadsheet. Doing research may also require you to gather information internally. For example, meet with Sales to discuss feedback they receive from possible customers. You could also ask Customer Support to start tracking when customers give price as a reason to not renew. Here are sample market research questions about pricing:
- Does our team have a compelling sales pitch based on value, not just price?
- How do we create more value to justify our prices?
- How can we position our product as “premium”?
- What are our competitors charging? Are our prices higher, lower or about the same?
- Are our prices allowing sufficient profit to stay in business?
- How often do sales and support staff hear pricing objections? And how often do they overcome them?
- Are we identifying enough people who can afford our products and services, or who want to pay what we ask for?
- Can we more precisely target prospects by income, neighborhoods and other factors to isolate a target audience receptive to our price point?
- In the case of B2B, are we targeting the right industries with needs and pain points we can solve?
- Are we targeting the right job title? Does the target executive have sufficient budget authority?
- How does our business model compare in our industry? Are we missing opportunities?
- What kind of promotions are our competitors advertising? Bulk buys / annual subscriptions? Free gift with purchase? Discounts? Sales events?
Product or Service Questions
Ask yourself or your team these market research questions about your products and services:
- Are our new products or services sufficiently unique compared with what already exists?
- What exactly is our value proposition — the reason customers should choose us? How can we best convey our benefits?
- How are customers currently solving the problem that our product addresses?
- What products do competitors offer? How does our target market view these competitive offerings?
- How do competitors deliver service? Does their process differ from our methods? Are there obvious advantages such as cost or time savings to gain if we adjust?
- Customers have been asking for a certain service — do others in the market offer it? What do they charge?
- What changes will customers likely want in the future that technology can provide?
- How do we get feedback about our product, so we know what to improve, and what to highlight in sales and marketing messages?
- What technology is available in the market to improve operational productivity or cut costs? What solutions are competitors or big corporations using?
- When considering new product development, do we interview customers to test their interest level?
Related: How to Minimize Survey Fatigue
Online Visibility Questions
Online traffic is essential to most small businesses, even local businesses, to drive in-store traffic. Market research questions can assess your company’s online visibility. Get answers from your digital team:
- How much website traffic do we receive compared with competitors? Check free tools like Alexa and SimilarWeb – while not exact they can compare relative levels of traffic.
- How prominently do we appear in search engines like Google and Bing?
- Do we appear in search engines for the queries our audience is searching for, using their words? Or do we need to invest in search engine optimization?
- Which search queries actually send us website traffic? Check Google Search Console or another SEO tool.
- How does our search visibility compare with competitors? A tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs can give this kind of advanced look.
- Have we done a gap analysis and identified which keywords our competitors rank for? Do we have a content marketing plan to attract more visitors?
- Have we claimed business listings like Google My Business and Bing Places, and completed them with engaging content such as photos?
- How prominently do we show up in Google Maps, Apple Maps and Bing Maps?
- Do we give visitors something to do on our website to engage them, such as fill out a lead gen form, read the blog, or schedule an appointment?
Related: How to Interpret Survey Results
Customers today have extraordinary power to talk about a brand, and its products and services. Customers can choose dozens of social media sites or review sites like Yelp to share opinions. A big part of market research today is to find out what customers think and say about your business (and also about your competitors). You want answers to the following market research questions:
- Do we have negative reviews online?
- Do we have any other type of reputation issue, such as poor word of mouth in our local community?
- Are competitors spamming with fake reviews?
- What can we learn from bad reviews?
- Do we thank those who give positive reviews and referrals, or do we ignore them?
- Do we address negative reviews or complaints by trying to make good or by correcting wrong facts?
- Can we use an app such as GatherUp.com to make it easy for customers to leave reviews?
- Does our website have compelling testimonials?
Messaging and Advertising
Assess your current marketing messages. Brands will want to know that their messaging supports their marketing goals. Make sure to also assess advertising to make sure it is in sync with goals and performing well:
- Have we identified the milestones in the customer journey, and what customers looking for at each milestone? Are we addressing the milestones?
- What emotions drive our customers’ buying decisions? Fear? Aspirational desire? Does our messaging align with these emotional needs?
- What information sources do prospects rely on? TV, online digital, social media, radio, newspapers?
- Which marketing and advertising channels have been our top performers?
- Have we developed quality content to educate and persuade prospects?
- What are the best advertising methods and media outlets to reach our prospects?
- Are we using our advertising spend to precisely target our desired buyer, or is it spray and pray?
- Where and how frequently do competitors advertise, and what messages do they use?
- Do we have good assets such as display ads and landing pages to drive prospects to? How do they compare with competitors’ assets?
- What social media channels does our target market use? Should we boost our presence on those channels?
- What issues do our target buyers talk about on social media?
- Do we use heat maps, A/B testing or other measurements to test content and calls to action?
These 75 questions and examples of market research should give you plenty to explore. Always come back to the most important question of all: what can we do better? Answering this one question can put your brand well on the way toward long term growth.