3 Free Ways That Market Research Can Boost Startup Success

Market research can make or break your business – it allows startup founders to see things objectively and allow the customer to do the talking about how the product or service is perceived.

Doing this in the initial stages of a company will guide your product development and marketing and could save you a lot of time, energy and money.

Many start-ups simply don’t have the funds to spend thousands of pounds on the help of a market research agency. However, the good news is there are ample opportunities to compile market research yourself that won’t cost you a penny.


1. Email Marketing

If you have a list of email subscribers who are interested in your company, you can use this for market research. If you have already launched your business, you can also ask your email subscribers for feedback.

It’s a good idea to offer people an incentive to give you their thoughts – this can be as simple as a £50 gift voucher to someone at random who has clicked through and taken the survey.

You can create a survey for free using software like Survey Monkey or Google Forms. Think about what questions will be the most beneficial for you as a business. What do you want to find out from your customers? What is vital information that you need to discover to best serve them? Think about how many questions you are asking people – survey respondents get fatigued or drop out if surveys are too long. Try and keep it short and simple.

Where possible, ask someone who doesn’t work in your business to look over the survey before it goes live to make sure your question wording isn’t biased or misleading and that you’ve covered all bases. Using an external agency is always beneficial in this situation because your survey is compiled by experts who will know the right questions to ask.

Often our clients come to us because they want to understand very specific things about their target customers. We also have links to hundreds of panels around the world – so if you need data from a very specific sub-category of person, I.e mothers in Spain who have a Netflix subscription, we can find those people on your behalf.


2. Social Media Feedback

Even if you only have a small following on social media, utilise it! You can either write some social media posts that direct followers to your survey (again, using an incentive is a great way to encourage people to complete it) or you could use your Instagram stories.

For Instagram stories, either use the poll function to ask a question or the question and answer box function. These are two very simple but effective tools you can use to get quick, easy feedback and to find out more about your audience.

For example, you could put a few different polls up asking “Are you 1. Male 2. Female” or “Do you prefer 1. Driving to work 2. Walking to work”. If you have more than two potential answers to a question, use the “Quiz” function to give people the option to pick from multiple answers. However please bear in mind that when you use the quiz, it will look as though

there is a “right” answer when in reality there isn’t. It’s worth writing a disclaimer so that your respondents are aware of this.


3. Focus Groups

Focus groups are an amazing opportunity to gather in-person feedback from your customers. Again, we would recommend offering a goodwill gesture to participants to thank them for giving up their time to take part.

To compile a focus group, invite 5-10+ customers together in a group scenario and ask them questions about whatever it is that you’re trying to gather feedback on. You may want to consider hiring a professional moderator for this, many work freelance.

Focus groups are particularly useful when you want feedback on branding or any kind of design work. If you are struggling to make a decision, who better to ask than customers or people who are already interested in your brand?

This piece was written as part of a collaboration with Manchester Digital, who support Greater Manchester’s most forward-thinking and progressive digital and tech companies.