Written by Alex Osbaldeston
Understanding the views of customers and prospects has never been more important, making market research central to every successful business. However, at a time of rising competition, the challenge for market research agencies is to successfully deliver the insight that their customers are looking for swiftly and efficiently. Clients want results faster, meaning agencies need to look at how they can operate more effectively, removing stages from the market research process, without impacting quality.
There are five key ways to achieve this:
Traditionally market research agencies have used a variety of different software tools to create, run and analyse surveys. While each one may have been created to support specific research methods (such as around panel management or communities), this leads to inefficiencies. Staff have to be trained on multiple tools, while it is difficult to bring together data from different systems, all of which adds to administration time and cost.
By switching to a single platform agencies reduce the overheads involved in supporting multiple tools, and having to export and import data between them. A single platform makes it easier and faster to run different types of research from the same place, gives a unified approach to projects and dramatically lowers training and support costs. This then helps improve efficiences in market ressearch, without compromising quality.
Many market esearch tools require each question to be manually scripted before the survey is launched. This adds to costs, as outsourcing scripting or employing staff with specialist skills can be expensive, but more importantly it adds potential bottlenecks to projects. Managers have to wait until scripting teams become available – delaying launches and reducing efficiency.
Modern market research platforms include a built-in question library, allowing surveys to be created by staff without deep technical skills, while still providing a powerful, compelling consumer experience. Removing the scripting stage dramatically increases efficiency, allowing your agency to focus on what it does best – running surveys that deliver fast insight to underpin better client decision making.
Thanks to the advent of digital technologies in our home life, we expect the technology systems we use at work to be equally simple and straightforward. Market research solutions should be no different – and by making them easy to use it will also increase efficiency by removing unnecessary administration. Agencies can therefore focus on the results and the insight they provide. Look for a system that is not only easy to use but enables you to port across historical data in order to compare results going forward.
In the past, many agencies have built their own tools to collect, analyse and report on data. This was because, in many cases, existing technology was not powerful enough or could not be tailored to their specific needs. Those days are gone – unified market research platforms can now handle the entire range of your research needs, through a single system that is easy to use and administer. Bringing in an independent technology supplier means you can focus on the research process, enabling staff to be reallocated to where they deliver greatest value to your business. Look to work with software that is open and easy to integrate with your existing systems to make the research process seamless and efficient. Buying external technology doesn’t mean you get a basic, undifferentiated platform either. Pick a provider that enables you to customise your research activities, and can support you if you want to build more features onto their technology.
Most IT systems are now exploiting the scalability, efficiency and processing power of the cloud. Rather than having to run your own market research technology, outsourcing it to an independent technology provider who uses the cloud to deliver Software as a Service (SaaS) means you don’t have to pay for the hardware and administration involved in on-premise deployments. Updating cloud-based systems is automatic, making it easy to access new features as they are developed, ensuring you have a platform for future innovation. As with all research activities, ensuring security and confidentiality of respondent data is paramount, so check that the provider you work with (and the data centres that they use) have the highest levels of security certification.
The pressure to drive down the time and cost involved in carrying out market research projects is ever-increasing. Following these five steps enables agencies to increase efficiency and focus on what they do best – delivering compelling insights to clients, without being constrained by ineffective, outdated technology.