Small Business Marketing

Cost Effective Ways to Conduct Online Market Research

Written by Kristin Marquet for Gaebler Ventures

Conducting market research is very important to any entrepreneur or small business owner. In order to improve your business, you need to know how to conduct market research.

Like most small business owners and entrepreneurs, we don't have access to large amounts of capital to conduct marketing research through focus groups and conducting elaborate national surveys like global conglomerates do, so we must be resourceful and use the tools that are available to us.

However, small business owners and entrepreneurs have a competitive advantage over global conglomerates because we have taken the time to get to know our clients/customers better. With a little creativity in mind, we can find ways to conduct relatively inexpensive, easy, and efficient market research. To get started conducting effective marketing research, consider using the techniques discussed below.

Before you get started, make sure that your client list is up to date with current mailing addresses, telephone numbers, and more importantly, email addresses. Using email as a means of conducting market research is one of the best and most cost efficient ways to communicate with your market and get honest results. If you plan on conducting an email survey, offer your customers incentives such as 10% off their next purchase or a gift certificate they can use toward their next purchase.

Online survey tools are reasonable and provide various templates that you can customize to fit your business. A few providers are, or For instance, offers customer service and employee satisfaction surveys, and surveys, while offers similar online survey services as well as email marketing and newsletter campaigning. Each provider offers different services, so they are definitely worth investigating.

Add an opinion poll to your website or blog. Ask your readers about their views on specific issues. Always make sure to update and change your poll questions weekly to keep your readers interested.

Offer a redeemable coupons if your customers fill out a short questionnaire on the website. When a visitor clicks on the link, the link will take them to another page to where they fill out a short survey of 5 to 10 questions. Give multiple choice answer options.

Let visitors leave messages and feedback on your website. Offer a "We value your feedback" or "Please leave your feedback to help us service you better" submittal page if you don't want customer feedback readily available to anyone who reads your site.

If you have a sales team, hold monthly meetings to discuss what your clients are saying about your business and how to improve customer service.

Conducting online marketing research is cost effective and done easily. It helps you get a quick read on your customers/clients: who they are; what they're buying and not buying and what they're thinking.

Kristin Marquet will be receiving her MBA from Harvard University in Fall of 2010. She has worked in the marketing and public relations field for over 10 years.

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