One of the first things we do to help our clients understand SMB needs and preferences is work with them to determine how best to conduct research. The format we recommend depends on their research goals, budget and time requirements.
In brief, there are three main types of primary market research:
- Qualitative research (“qual”) consists of in-person or online interviews or groups to gain detailed feedback from a relatively small number of participants. It’s usually considered exploratory research and can be useful to understand SMB attitudes, feelings, and motivations. Each interview or group can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to conduct, and the entire process can take as long as ten weeks (or more, if multiple focus groups are involved).
- Quantitative research (“quant”) uses online or phone surveys to gather data on customer or prospect needs and behaviors. It is useful for gathering statistically meaningful samples from different segments, and typically takes eight weeks to conduct (or more, if a large or difficult-to-reach audience or sophisticated data analysis is involved).
- Agile research, as the name implies, is focused on speed. Insights are generated via short, focused surveys conducted in just a few weeks. The goal is not to get perfect insight, but quick directional information to inform marketing, product development, user experience or other strategic decisions; or to generate data to support PR, content and other sales and marketing campaigns.
To learn more about agile research, join us on Thursday, July 28 for our next live Fastcast “Is Agile Research for You?”
With its emphasis on speed, agile research fits between traditional qual and quant as follows:
How do I decide which format is best for my needs?
The use cases for qual, agile, and quant overlap. Whether to use agile research depends primarily on how quickly you need insights, but there are other factors. These questions can help:
- How quickly do you need insight? If you want to put out a press release or develop content on SMB reaction to a news event – for example an interest rate change, or a spike in inflation – agile research fills the bill. If you want to get iterative feedback on product features or ad creative without slowing product development or creative execution, agile research is built for speed.
- Do you need frequent insight? Agile research is well-suited for iterative or repeated research. For example, it can be used to obtain feedback on evolving product specs, feature sets or ad creative. It can also be used to track sentiment – for example business, hiring or purchase outlook. However, given the typical sample size, agile research may not be a fit for brand trackers.
- Do you conduct other market research? If you have research needs that involve breaking down results by company size, industry, or other criteria, agile research may not provide sufficient sample size. Likewise, if you want to survey a range of topics, agile research, with its short and topic-specific surveys, may not be a fit.
- Do you struggle to create questionnaires? Quant is a great way to gather in-depth insights on your audience, but the questionnaires take time and team engagement to develop. Agile research can enable your team to more easily gather actionable, timely data quickly that can inform marketing, sales, product development and other initiatives.
- Is your target audience difficult to reach? Agile research depends in part on how easy your audience is to survey. For example, business owners at companies with fewer than 100 employees are readily available. However, surveying respondents at larger companies, in specific roles such as IT manager, in specific industries, or in countries where translation is required can significantly slow fielding time. If it takes time to get a statistically valid sample size, agile may not be a fit.