Not only is market research the most reliable, proven, and practical way to provide research-based and data-driven answers to important business issues, but also is the only way to properly address the basic needs of businesses.
In fact, for businesses, instead of relying on assumptions, intuition, and taking chances, marketing research provides them with meaningful, practical, and realistic data, allowing managers to rely on data rather than emotion and speculation.
In the article “Market Research Guide” we explained in detail the market research process, its methods, and benefits.
In this article, we wish to introduce you to the most effective way to design a marketing research questionnaire and provide you with 34 common questions in the market research questionnaire.
What is the strategic approach to design market research survey questions?
If you want to be able to distinguish a perfect marketing research survey from a poor and incomplete one, you must pay attention to the nature of the questions you are asking.
In her book Strategic Market Research, Ph.D. Anne E. Beall discusses the strategic approach to designing market research survey questions:
«Experience has shown me that the best projects are those that have very specific questions, with strategic meaning and concept. Unfortunately, companies have a lot of unanswered questions, which is why many research projects have a large number of vague questions. In qualitative research, the result of this number of questions is often a long and wide guide, also, in quantitative research, we encounter long questionnaires. This approach gives companies a lot of information on many topics, but that is neither in-depth nor effective. For example, I once worked for a dental supplies company that did very little research on its clients. Its target audience was all dentists throughout the country. The company wanted to know everything about its customers because it had done little research on its target audience. It wanted to know what dentists thought about the product, how they decided to buy it, how often they see competing marketers, what they know about the strengths and weaknesses of the company’s products, how they feel about competing sales marketers, how they feel about their slogan and brand name, etc, this list really did not end. Eventually, we wrote a long guide in face-to-face interviews. After analyzing the results, we had very little information on many topics. The head of the company was also disappointed and admitted that he had already known a lot of this information and had obtained a small amount of strategic data. This experience was a valuable lesson for me. What I learned was: “trying to find answers to a large number of questions usually gives us less valuable results than answering only one or two questions”. Asking one or two correctly chosen questions will allow you to gain in-depth information and practical recommendations.
Here I wish to compare this dental equipment company with another nonprofit company, at which I was asked to conduct marketing research to determine whether or not this company should change its name. This issue was quite clear, as some members of the company thought the name was outdated and gave customers a misconception about the company. So I suggested that members be interviewed to know their perception of the company, its current name, and renaming it.
The result of these interviews showed that the name of the company was very appropriate, but they had to change their slogan and marketing materials. The owners of the company were also satisfied with the result of this research because it gave them a clear answer and set a strategic path for them. So it is clear that having a few good questions is much better than having a lot of questions. However, sometimes some of these questions may be weak. When clients ask me to do marketing research for them, I, first of all, ask them to define their purpose.
In many cases, managers say that we want to better understand the customer, know what is important to the customer, or understand how we can sell more products or services. All of these questions are very vague and general, and before we can answer them, other different questions need to be answered first. Better customer understanding cannot be considered a goal because it cannot be specifically defined in a marketing research project. All companies and organizations wish to know their customers better, but every company needs to understand a specific side of that customer, which must be understood through strong and appropriate questions.»
Strategic features of market research survey questions
What makes us have a strong and appropriate question? A good question is a question that leads to a specific answer and opens a clear path for the organization. A good way to review market research survey questions is to evaluate them based on the following characteristics and then design your questionnaire more specifically:
- Is there a strategic and main goal behind this question that the organization wants to achieve?
- Do they want to increase their market share?
- Do they want to identify and break into a new market?
- Are they thinking of changing their product or service?
- Are they planning to create a new product or service?
- Is there a clear and strategic question that the organization wants to be answered in a way that suits a certain purpose?
- What specific changes in our products will lead to increased purchases?
- Do our current customers see the idea of our new and potential product or service?
- Why has our market share declined?
- Are there any subsets of strategic questions that we want to use in order to answer our main and strategic questions?
For example, the question “Reasons for reducing market share” has sub-categories such as these questions:
- Are people dissatisfied with our product or service?
- Do they prefer competitors’ offers to ours?
Also, the question “Making a change in a product or service” includes the following questions:
- Will it increase purchases or usage if we change the factor “A”?
- Will it increase purchases or usage if we add the factor “B”?
- If the organization finds the answers to these questions, can it adopt a specific strategy based on the results?
- If the organization obtains this data, what can it do?
If you can answer “yes” to these four characteristics, we must congratulate you because you have been able to find a strategic framework for your questions allowing you to write strong market research survey questions.
But what is important is that in many cases the questions may be very poorly designed or biased. In such cases, it should be possible to distinguish the weak question from the strong one.
In cases where the organization officials have vague and general questions, you should ask them several questions to identify the main problem. For example, you can specify the answers to these questions:
- Is there a problem or issue that has prompted you to do this research?
- What is the main purpose of this research?
- Who is responsible for conducting this research?
- Why do you wish to do this research? What specific issues does your organization need to address?
- If you want to prioritize these issues, what will be your first, second, and third priorities?
- What will your organization do after obtaining the results of this research?
When the manager of the organization thinks about these questions, he/she can make his vague and general questions clearer and more specific.
For example, an organization manager may tell you that the purpose of creating a market research survey is to better understand customers and increase sales. But after having a discussion with him/her and asking the above questions, you will find that he/she has created banner ads on their website, but this ad failed to attract new customers and now he/she wants to know why this happened.
Now the strategic goal of “we want to sell more of our products” has become clear, and it replaces the previous vague question. Now based on that, you can ask clearer questions in your market research survey:
- Do people react to banner ads?
- If they respond to these banner ads, why not respond to this site?
- If they do not respond to ads, how can products be sold to them?
- What information should people know before buying the products of this organization?
If you wish to test your ad before publishing it, send the Advertising Test Survey to your audience, and based on the results you can decide whether or not to publish your ad. If you do this process correctly, you can set a strategic and accurate framework for yourself and obtain more accurate data.
Strong and weak market research survey questions
As mentioned earlier, sometimes the marketing questionnaire with a strategic and clear framework does not provide a suitable answer for the manager. The reason is that the market research survey questions are either vague or unsuitable.
Another reason why questionnaires may be useless is that the target statistical population is not correctly chosen, and our questions are not only biased but also answered by the wrong statistical population.
To avoid such a problem and correctly choose the target population, use screening questions at the beginning of the market research survey. Screening questions exclude unsuitable individuals from the list of respondents and allow only those who meet the required criteria to complete the survey.
Market research survey questions can be either strong and practical or weak, biased and illogical, and just to give you an idea we present in the table below a comparison between some weak and strong market research survey questions:
|Strong strategic market research survey questions||Weak strategic market research survey questions|
|What special needs does this product or service meet?||What is important to customers?
How do customers see the features of our products compared to the features of competitors’ products?
|How do customers decide to buy this product or service?|
|How likely is it that customers will buy this product with these features and this price?
||What do customers think about this potential new product?|
||What do customers think about this new service?|
Sample market research survey questions
We have categorized the questions of Customer Satisfaction Survey or Market Research Survey into two sections: after purchase and after receiving support service.
After-purchase section questions are sent to the customer immediately after the purchase via email or SMS in the form of an online purchase satisfaction survey. This type of customer survey is considered a customer transactional survey. In B2B businesses, transactional surveys usually do not take place immediately so that the customer has the opportunity to test the product or service.
Sample questions form of customer satisfaction of service
- Why did you choose to buy from our company or website?
This question helps you understand the differences between you and your competitors from the customer’s point of view.
- How did you find our website?
This question helps you figure out which marketing means are more effective. For example, if customers generally find your website through Google search, it means that investing in this section is more important than participating in conferences or any other techniques.
- Did you easily find the product you were looking for?
This question helps you understand the navigation of your website and how to improve it depending on the customer’s point of view.
- Are you satisfied with the product or service you received?
This question helps you understand the perceived quality and value of the product or service from the customer’s point of view. If most customers are satisfied, it will probably mean they would buy from you again.
- How can we improve the buying process?
This question helps to gradually identify improvements in the purchasing process.
Note that some of the above questions can be asked to the customer as grading questions or rating questions.
The second category of the questions is the “After receiving support service questions”, they target the effectiveness of the support team or customer success team, these questions include:
- Was your problem resolved at the end of the call, chat, or email?
This question shows whether or not the support team succeeded in solving the customer problem.
- How much effort did put into solving your problem?
This question measures the customer effort index.
- Generally speaking, how satisfied were you with the support service you have received?
This question helps identify areas for improvement in the behavior of support experts, the process of assigning a support expert to the customer, and the response time to the customer problem.
- Which method would you prefer to receive the support service?
This question identifies the investing priority in the various service delivery channels.
- How can we improve the quality of support service?
This question is asked again at the end so that the customer can make suggestions that he/she may not have mentioned in the previous questions.
Sample questions about customer behavior and habits on the Internet
These questions can be asked in the form of a customer personality survey or a customer profile. Answering these questions will help you identify the best advertising channels, media, and social media platforms for your customer, which allows you to wisely spend your marketing budget, These market research survey questions are as follows:
- Where do you look for recommendations and suggestions before choosing and buying a product or service?
This question identifies blogs, social media platforms, influencers, and reference websites from the customer perspective, which in the future could be channels for advertising, collaborations, and partnerships.
- In terms of product or service, whose advice do you usually accept?
This question helps identify influencers in any field or industry.
- When you think of a product or service, what names, companies, or brands come to your mind?
This question helps identify the main actors and competitors.
- What magazines, newspapers, websites, or social media platforms do you read daily, weekly, or monthly?
This question helps you Identify various online and offline advertising channels.
- Where do you spend most of your time when you are online?
The answer to this question will help you to accurately prioritize how your product or service is marketed and advertised.
Note that some of the above questions can be either open-ended or closed-ended depending on how much you know about your market, product, or service.
Sample market research survey questions
Different stages of market research require different and diverse surveys. Here are 19 frequently asked market research survey questions that can be found in various types of market research.
- What is the biggest challenge you are facing in your job?
This question will help you identify the content of landing pages, the subject of blog content about your current product or service, or ideas for a future product or service to develop your business portfolio.
- What are the 3- or 6-month goals you are pursuing in your job?
If you are in the pre-production stage where you only have an MVP(the minimum viable product) or even just a prototype, this question will help you with the development of the product features. If you go through this step, the answer to this question can lead to a product with desirable content and features making it ready for marketing.
- What is the biggest stress in your job?
The answer to this question can lead to the production of an MVP acceptable by customers and the market, or the development of product features at the product-market fit stage.
- What are the biggest obstacles to achieving your career goals?
The answer to this question provides the best topics for your marketing approach that explain how a new product or service will help generate value for the customer and remove barriers.
- What hinders your decision to buy a product or service?
This question helps identify customer values and decision criteria.
- What features or values are you looking for when shopping from a company?
Similar to the above question, understanding the customer decision-making process occurs when you know the answer to this question. For example, some of the customer’s considerations may be the product support team or the existence of a telephone line to receive support services.
- If you want to hire someone for your own job position, what skills should this person have?
Understanding the client’s skills helps you produce content that leads to the development of his or her skills.
- In most of your purchases, do you usually prefer to stay loyal to the brands from which you have already bought?
This question helps to understand whether the target customer can be drawn from competitors to your product or service.
- What makes you prefer buying from one brand to another?
This question along with the previous one identify the customer’s reasons for buying from a different brand instead of buying from the previous brand.
- What is the main benefit you get from using this product or service?
Knowing the main benefits of a product or service from the customer’s point of view means obtaining accurate information to formulate strategies and marketing tactics
- What are the three main benefits you get from this product or service?
It is better to know the key benefits of a product or service from the customer’s point of view rather than just guessing them!
- How would you feel if you no longer had this product or service? Why?
This is the main question of the product-market fit survey, which shows how important this product or service is to the customers.
- In case the product or service is not available, what alternatives do you use?
The answer to this question tells you who is the biggest competitor of your product or service from the customer’s point of view.
- Have you offered this product, brand, or service to others? How did you describe it to them?
This question shows that this product or service has fans who are willing to promote it. Also, you can use the way they describe the product for new marketing techniques.
- Apart from you, who else in your enterprise with other job descriptions can benefit from this product or service?
Identify potential sales opportunities for new customer groups with this question.
- What changes in the product or service make it more in line with your needs?
By getting the answer to this question you can identify opportunities that allow you to improve your product. This question will also show you why the customer would not choose your product or service.
- In your opinion, in which price range this product or service can be considered expensive?
Van Westendorp’s pricing model using questionnaires is commonly used most appropriately during the market research process.
- What problem were you trying to solve when you first came across our product or service?
The answer to this question explains what customer needs your product or service meets and what added value it creates for the customer.
- What makes you not use our service or product?
This question can be used not only to clarify the critical points in the customer’s decision but also for the current customers who have been churned.
Keep in mind that doing market research and marketing research is one of the most basic and essential things you should do before starting a business. Read this article carefully to be able to design a practical market research survey. Finally, use the market research survey templates on Porsline that offers several survey templates like Customer Satisfaction Survey, Buyer Persona Survey, Advertising Test Survey, Product Testing Survey, Brand Awareness Survey, and other surveys that will facilitate the process for you with just a few drag and drop. Register now to use the features and services of Porsline and create a free online survey.