Getting the most out of your research budget

Research doesn’t have to be a formal process or consume a lot of resources – and the benefit it provides can be immeasurable. Learn why it is so important and get some research ideas that won’t bust your research budget.

Illustration of different types of research.
Published: 10.8.2019

We don’t have time in the schedule. We don’t have the budget to do research. We already know what the target wants. We think we have enough data to support our direction. We just did research a few years ago. These are common objections to doing research, and some of the very reasons you should find the time and money to do it.

At Sanger & Eby, we conduct lots of studies, surveys, and focus groups for clients and the thing we see over and over again is that you always learn something new and meaningful that impacts your approach to the project.

Why? Consumers are influenced by life changes and personal experiences as well as ads, trends, marketing campaigns, and more, every day. These experiences impact the values and concerns of your audience(s) in meaningful ways. What mattered to someone six months ago might be very different today.

Learning the “what” and “why” does require time and financial investment up front, but that investment doesn’t have to consume a lot of resources. And the benefits that research provides are immeasurable. The information you gain will save your company valuable time and money on marketing that doesn’t work because it wasn’t based on research.

While there are many reasons to hire a third-party research partner to conduct things like in-person focus groups and interviews, research does not have to be a formal process. There are lots of other ways to measure the needs, desires, and concerns of your audience without investing in research that doesn’t fit into today’s budget. Here are a few of them:

1. Conduct secondary market research. Secondary research can be conducted without leaving your desk and My Market Research Methods shares that, “Secondary data could be US Census data, Twitter comments, journal articles and much more.” This can help you pinpoint specific information about your audience’s concerns and interests. For example, studying your competitors’ social media posts may enable you to understand which images and messages produce the highest level of engagement. Knowing this can help inform the strategy behind your social media and web content as well as inform overall messaging.

2. Conduct surveys. While many types of primary market research should be handled by a third party, you can conduct surveys anonymously to inform your recruitment marketing campaigns, website hierarchy, content strategy and more. Ask your existing audience to participate via regular email communication or try creating a targeted social media campaign to reach your ideal audience. To attract more participants, consider offering an incentive – “Return this survey to be entered into a drawing for ...” But make sure your offering is something your target audiences would be interested in.

3. Use existing information. The best way to begin understanding your audience is by leveraging existing data. One way to get direct feedback with potential for some qualitative insights is to ask your website customer service team what their most common inquiries are. Knowing what users are asking for help with will allow you to identify navigation and content improvement opportunities to ensure users can easily find what they're looking for.

Need help deciding what kind of research to conduct? Ready for a focus group? We’re here to help with all your research needs, big or small.

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