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Market Research Survey: The Absolute Guide to Conducting Surveys for Your Business

Strategy for success in consumer marketing involves acquiring intimate knowledge about your consumers. Make your marketing a success with these techniques.

February 5, 2023

Market Research Survey: The Absolute Guide to Conducting Surveys for Your Business

Strategy for success in consumer marketing involves acquiring intimate knowledge about your consumers. Make your marketing a success with these techniques.

In order to navigate the world of business in the 21st century, every move you make must be  done with confidence and strategy. Much like in a game of chess - only with far higher stakes - every decision that is made in and for your business has to be done with a purpose in mind; it can take just one false move to lose, whereas winning requires constant vigilance and wherewithal.

One of the most common failings experienced by both new entrepreneurs and seasoned business veterans alike is that they underestimate the importance of market research.

To err is human, and businesses often fail due to circumstances outside of their owner’s control.

Where does the market research survey come in? It can help you get a better understanding into the minds of the customers you serve.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about conducting quality market research for any product or service: the concepts behind market research, how to get quality customer feedback, the costs associated with surveying for our products and services, and where to find the best free marketing tools that are going to help us reach our key customer demographics.

Without any further ado, let’s take a look at the structure of what makes up a successful research strategy.

What a Market Research Survey is - and Why You Should Care

A market research survey is designed to capture valuable information from consumers that can then be turned into something actionable.

Information like consumer preferences, sentiment, favored services, and purchasing habits can be used to create clearer consumer profiles for our target markets.

A consumer profile is a mock representation of our target consumer or consumer groups.

These profiles often contain descriptions of demographics, buying patterns, personal interests, income, and intimate traits like brand affinity and shared geographic location. When you are able to clearly visualize the people you’re trying to sell your product or service to, the path to increasing our market share becomes clear.

Activities related to market research are ones that gather data about your target market. Marketing as we know it was only conceived within the last 100 years - but has now become a crucial core element of any company.

Quality market research strategies not only help us gain a better understanding of how we can reach our consumers - it allows us to take better risks, avoid mistakes, and navigate the ever-changing landscape of consumer tastes and market trends. Through the development of intimate consumer profiles and sound marketing strategy, we can meet the needs of our customers like never before!

Developing Your Market Research Strategy

With digital surveying, anyone with an internet-capable device can now conduct the kind of quality, in-depth consumer research that was previously only available to market research firms and large, established companies.

In order to better understand the basics, we'll look some testing I conducted using Helpfull’s intuitive A/B testing methodology.

A/B testing - otherwise known as split-run testing - involves asking respondents to pick between two or more alternatives. These are incredibly simple to design and tend attract a large volume of respondents in a short amount of time; the results that they garner can lend important insight into the psyche of your consumer, and have a major impact on your business decisions.

For this example, we posed as a novice author in need of help with choosing a book title. We’ve already culled down a greater list of book title concepts privately, and presented the remaining six to an audience of 100 Helpfull pollsters:

  • The Cracked Crown
  • A Kingdom Besieged
  • Catalyst: Rise from Ashes
  • The Last Mage
  • The Golden Blade
  • The Hope of a Doomed Kingdom

By allowing respondents to choose which title they feel best fits our upcoming fantasy/adventure novel and comment why they’ve made their pick, we’re looking to gain a better understanding of what elements of our book titles do and do not work.

Market Research Strategy Development

Ultimately, what is returned to us is a ranked order list of our titles ranging from most popular to least. Even more importantly, we’re given 100 unique consumer insights as to what our test audiences thought about our title suggestions.

Panelist response on Market Research Strategy

These consumer insights will play a crucial role in the way you develop your business decisions. Each bubble is a unique look inside the mind of our audiences - and the “why” behind their decision making can be far more useful for our purposes than the decision itself.

consumer insights for business related decisions
consumer feedback through designs

Oftentimes, we are able to immediately incorporate insightful consumer feedback into our designs. This pollster’s helpful advice was what ultimately allowed us to develop our winning book title. After two more rounds of audience testing and polling, our consumer research efforts bore fruit. Our final book title - Frozen Ashes: A Kingdom Under Siege. Oh - we've got chills! We can use cases of feedback success like this to bolster our confidence in our designs and help us reach our goals.

While not every comment or consideration is bound to be insightful, they are ultimately meaningful by virtue of their existence. They each represent an individual consumer -someone who influences the market with their spending,  who makes regular purchasing decisions, and  that could ultimately wind up in your customer database.

Designing an Effective Target Market Survey

Not all customer surveys are created equal, and no two customers are wholly alike. The best way to ensure the success of your consumer research is by pairing the right questions to the right people.

In order to get the most out of your time, money, and effort, you’ll need to make sure you have a clear understanding of what goal you’re hoping to achieve with your research. The best way to do this is to consider the different kind of survey marketing activities and what they are used for. Then, it’s all about finding the one that most closely matches your concerns, developing your questions, and finding the correct target audience.

For this section, we will be taking a look at the four different categories of market research  and how these differ in both purpose and design. Afterwards, we’ll talk briefly on the importance of choosing the right demographics when disseminating your questions.

Types of Market Research

  • Product Surveys
  • Brand Surveys
  • Market Surveys
  • Customer Service Surveys

Product Surveys are an integral part of product development, as they allow us to determine what features & benefits are most sought after by consumers. Questioning related to packaging design & shipping methods also fall under this branch of test.

One research method is what’s known as product positioning. These are designed to reveal how respondents view a particular product in comparison to other products inside of the same product market. One example is a survey that asks pollsters to rate five different soft drinks (all produced by Coca Cola) on a favorability scale of 1-5 - with 5 denoting “most favorite”, and 1 denoting “least favorite”.

By learning how your products that compete in the same product line or market space compare in the mind of a consumer, you will gain a better understanding of what sorts of product improvements we need to be making. Having a clear idea of how your customers view your products is crucial for crafting a successful strategy.

Product Surveys analysis

Other Product Surveys:

  • New Product Concept Analysis
  • Consumer Habits & Uses
  • Product Fulfillment
  • Price Setting
  • Sales Forecasting & Market Tracking
  • Price Setting
  • Price Elasticity Analysis

Brand surveys are those that better allow marketers to understand how people view their brand. Those pertaining to the exploration of psychological associations, emotional resonance, and parity as they relate to brands are all fall under this umbrella. These will give you insight into how a consumer views your brand in relation to competing firms, how they view individual  elements, and what sentiments they hold about your organization.

One of the most common and useful forms seek to identify & analyze the value being generated by our brand efforts - like an advertising campaign. Creating and maintaining unique, resonant imagery is vital to the success of all businesses competing in a digital marketplace. In order to find out if your advertising works, one method you can employ involves asking respondents to share the emotions & value judgements they make about your advertising material.

In this example, we created a mock set of branding concepts for a theoretical cosmetic company, Hush. We then asked our audiences to share the “sorts of images or emotions” that our brand evokes in their mind.

panelist comments on advertising campaign

The phrases & keywords our respondents use to relate to our desired image (sexy, simplicity, playful), we as marketers are able to gauge the effectiveness of our advertising. As we are posing as a company that produces products oriented towards young women & a club-nightlife atmosphere, these value judgments the respondents are making tells us that our branding is on the correct course. Were our audiences to share a completely off-base assessment on the outcome of our marketing plans, we could work to adapt & change our branding to better fit our desired market position.

Brand Surveys in market

Other Brand Surveys:

  • Equity Analysis
  • Messaging Effectiveness

Market surveys are those that look to gather information about the demographics of your target market - as well as their wants and needs. Without knowing the demographics and desires of your target audience, you can never be sure there is going to be the right market size necessary for your company to stay afloat.

Some of the most ubiquitous forms of surveying are those designed to gather information for the purposes of profiling & market segmentation. Demographic information like age, sex, household income, and geographic location can all influence the designs your strategy will need to adopt in order to succeed.

An example of market segmentation research in action involves asking the respondent relevant personal information, like their political standing. A customer’s political beliefs can have a major impact on their purchasing habits, and as such the information is very valuable to marketers. In this example, recipients were asked to self-describe their political leanings; this was done in the context of being able to gather consumer sentiments about current events across the political spectrum.

Customer experience survey

With this information like this, you can create a clearer profile of your consumer base. As it has been stressed throughout this article, your consumer profiles will never be too clear or accurate - the more information you’re able to gain from your customer, the better you will be able to meet & satisfy their unique needs.

Other Market Surveys:

  • Market Description
  • Consumer Tracking

The Customer experience survey allows researchers and marketers to step outside their usual schema and view their activities from a new perspective. These methods often seek to gain information about customer satisfaction, consumer feedback & suggestions, and customer loyalty questionnaires all fall under this broad category.

A customer expectations market research survey is a common way to improve the conversion of potential customers into paying ones; this is done by asking customers intimate questions about their experiences and expectations of a product. If the product is not meeting or exceeding the customer’s expectations, then the underlying causes of this disconnect can be routed out and addressed.

In this example, we took on the role of an all-natural body wash manufacturer looking to produce a commercial. For the purposes of this commercial, we’re looking to create a visual environment that resonates with consumer’s existing notions of cleanliness and freshness. In order to more effectively advertise our soap, we want to pull away from focusing directly on the product itself and move instead into establishing strong, subliminal connections with the consumer. We asked consumer panelists to answer the question, “Aside from the shower or bath, where do you feel the most ‘clean’?”

Surveys feedback on various Customer Experience on tools

Using these insights from our panelists, you can see how we might be able to translate their ideas of “clean” and “fresh” into a visual atmosphere that is far more enticing and stimulating than simply showing an actor in the shower. Fresh fields of flowers, a clean-pressed bed, a bubbling stream - these are all concepts we can use to strengthen the associations our customers will make between our product and traits like cleanliness and freshness.

Other Customer Experience Surveys

  • Purchase Analysis
  • Customer Retention
  • Sales Force Effectiveness
  • Customer Service Representative (CSR)
  • Sales Lead Generation

One final consideration you must make before conducting any  research - identify your target audience.

Identifying who does not make up your target market is far easier than identifying the unique individuals that make up your consumer base. If you’re a marketer working for a premium alcohol retailer, you’re not going to be seeking feedback on the effectiveness of your sales force from teenagers; just like manufacturers in the US are not going to be testing their newest product line with people in countries they aren’t licensed to operate in. Be sure to avoid wasting valuable time and money on surveying demographics outside of your target market.

Demographic data is hugely important for marketers. Targeting your research towards the consumer groups that most closely match your customers will not only save you money by limiting the number of extraneous responses you’ll need to pay for - the overall quality of your responses will improve. Feedback from those who are current/potential customers is far more useful than feedback from those who would never consider purchasing your product.

The Costs Associated With Market Research Surveys

Traditionally, the costs associated with conducting quality market research would be enough to dissuade it from being a tenable option for small-time owners with limited resources. Now services that used to begin at four-digit cost projections can now be completed for tens of dollars - or even free, if you know where to look.

Where To Find The Best Marketing Survey Tools?

There are a variety of tools that any marketer is going to want to have available in their digital toolkit. While many of the best services are going to require a subscription fee, there are many free websites that offer tools and resources for the thrifty do-it-yourself marketer.

Here are just a few of the best free  tools available right now:

Google Trends & Google Analytics

The existence of these products hopefully won’t surprise you. Google’s own analytic services are extremely useful for identifying market trends as they happen, and for data analysis pertaining to performance on Google.


Salience is a website that offers free and detailed reports on a variety of global  industries - everything from retail, fashion, to finance and automobiles. These reports are chock-full of useful data pertaining to research study, industry growth, and market niche opportunities.


Statista is an online portal that hosts a wide range of insights and statistics for nearly every global industry. Statista has become the go-to for many of us who are looking for generalized insight into the ever-evolving world of global commerce - and while the free version may lack some of the features that make the premium version superior, the free program is still very accessible for the average user.

Think With Google

Formerly known as Consumer Barometer, this Google-funded application is designed to promote data related to online purchasing habits & internet engagement. The data provided gives unique insight into how we interact with search engines and ad campaigns on the web.

Pew Research Center

The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan organization that specializes in conducting opinion polling on a wide variety of issues and current events. This website is a fantastic resource to use when looking to obtain existing  data, and to note what other topics professional market research surveys are exploring at any given time.

Atom Finance

This investment research software is going to provide all of the most important information you need to know about what’s going on in the stock market. SEC filings, daily news updates, financial expert analysis, and real-time access to quotes are just a few of the features included in the free version of this amazing piece of software.

All The Best Tools for Market Surveys (And What They’ll Cost)

Google Forms

Google Forms, also known as Google Surveys, is often one of the first tools new surveyors looking to conduct consumer research will come across. Google Forms features a familiar and easy-to-navigate dashboard, along with free basic survey templates for those looking to dip their toes into the water of digital marketing.  

  • Pros
  • Completely free to use
  • Ubiquitous design should be familiar to users of other Google products
  • Variety of document types to incorporate into market research surveys
  • Cons
  • Lacks style and customization options
  • Some features are buried inside the layout - new users can sometimes have trouble accessing important design elements
  • Pricing Options
  • Free access to basic surveying functions
  • $.10 per response for a one (1) question test
  • $1 per response for 2-10 questions
  • Pricing increases per response if the surveyor is looking to survey a targeted audience


SurveyLegend is a powerful digital research tool with many intuitive features that make it an appealing product for those looking to improve the quality of the data they receive. Utilizing drag-and-drop elements, surveyors can quickly build sets of surveys that work well across every digital device - tablets and mobile devices included. The biggest drawback of this website stems from the fact that many of the best features are locked behind paywalls, and the free options can only be utilized for the first three surveys you create.

  • Pros
  • User-friendly design interface
  • Plenty of customization options for changing design elements in the survey
  • Built-in feature prevents users operating from the same IP from voting multiple times and cheating a survey
  • Cons
  • The features inside the free version are limited in comparison to the full paid application
  • Users can only run three (3) free surveys before being asked to pay for the platform
  • Users cannot export data from free surveys
  • Pricing Options
  • First three (3) surveys are free
  • Pro Plan - $15/month
  • Business Plan - $25/month
  • Legendary Plan - $65/month


SurveyMonkey stands out among its competitors by being one of the largest and most frequently used surveying platforms on the market. Over the years, the proprietors of SurveyMonkey have continued to purchase other smaller competing firms and supplementary applications in order to build out a more complete platform. While this site lacks some of the analytic tools that it’s competition boast, this service ultimately offers one of the most affordable paid plans ($384/year for the Advantage plan) for those looking to get the most bang for their surveying buck.

  • Pros
  • Accessible user interface
  • Results are displayed simply and clearly
  • Users can easily incorporate visual elements into their  designs
  • Cons
  • Free version is limited in comparison to paid versions
  • Website limits the types of file formats that can be uploaded into surveys
  • Analytics lack depth & form
  • $.15 per response over the limit caps, even for Premier version
  • Pricing Options
  • Personal Plans
  • Limited Free Surveying Capabilities
  • Standard - $99/month
  • Advantage - $384/year
  • Premier - $99/month
  • Business Plans
  • Team Advantage - $25/month/per user
  • Team Premier - $75/month/per user
  • Enterprise - Contact sales for pricing


Typeform offers some of the most unique and aesthetically pleasing survey designs currently on the market. Surveys are conducted one question at a time, with the next question beautifully flowing onto the page after each pollster response. For those who prefer form over function and are looking to create gorgeous, professional-looking surveys - look no further; if you’re looking for more substantial analytical tools, or are looking to run lengthy surveys with multiple question-sets, then you may want to consider some of the other alternatives on this list.

  • Pros
  • Intuitive integration with other platforms like Zapier
  • Drag-and-drop elements makes reordering and organizing surveys easy
  • Aesthetically pleasing design & UI
  • Cons
  • Wide array of surveying options may be daunting for new users looking to learn the program
  • Surveys only present one question at a time - making it harder for pollsters to gauge the length of surveys
  • Typeform branding on all surveys & analytics (this is removed by paying for premium access to the program)
  • Free option is limited and temporary
  • Pricing Options
  • Limited Free Plan
  • Essentials - $35/month
  • Professional - $35/month, billed annually
  • Premium - $70/month


Survicate is a great surveying tool for those looking for a balanced, middle-of-the-road alternative for their solutions. With plenty of design options and existing template to choose from, coupled with user-friendly analytical tools and export features, Survicate stands on solid footing in the digital surveying landscape. The biggest drawbacks of this software stem from the large leap in cost from the free plan to even the most basic essentials plan - making this a turn-off for new users or those who are skeptical about switching to a new platform.

  • Pros
  • Preview what your questions will look like to users before sending them out
  • Comes with a variety of pre-existing survey templates for different needs
  • Cons
  • Lack of integration with other apps
  • Free plan only allows for 100 responses a month
  • No intermediate pricing options for casual surveyors
  • Pricing Options
  • Limited Free Plan
  • Essential - $49/month
  • Professional - $99/month
  • Ultimate - $249/month


For those who feel limited by free surveying plans and want an app that will allow them to use the full breadth of surveying features for a low price, SurveyPlanet is a great paid alternative to things like Google Forms and SurveyMonkey. Not only does SurveyPlanet offer the cheapest paid pro plan of the surveying websites listed (only $180 a year), it’s well-spaced design layout makes it aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. The survey templates offered by SurveyPlanet are rather limited compared to some of its competitors; SurveyPlanet users will also find that the analytic tools offered by the website are rather lacking compared to other products.

  • Pros
  • 90+ pre-written survey templates to choose from
  • Easy to duplicate market survey template
  • Questions can be shared through social media networks or through email
  • Cons
  • Scope of question types for free version is very limited
  • Users are unable to export results from the free plan
  • Pricing Options
  • Limited Free Plan (no cap on responses)
  • Pro Plan - $180/year, billed annually

Alchemer (Formerly SurveyGizmo)

Alchemer is a heavy-duty  surveying tool that offers a wide range of analytic tools and logic features that come standard with their surveying. Secure digital security infrastructure, combined with a very intuitive application design that allows users to integrate the tool seamlessly with other applications like Salesfore, makes Alchemer a highly sought-after product service for research firms and large  enterprises. The improved functionality Alchemer offers over other competitors comes with an increase in asking price, with the cheapest paid options starting at a hefty $49/month.

  • Pros
  • Integrates well with tools like Salesforce & Google Sheets
  • Software is regularly updated with bug-fixes and new features
  • Built in logic and analytic tools allows users to easily export data into a variety of formats
  • Cons
  • Harder to develop tests for mobile devices than on other platforms
  • Pricing for full product service is especially high
  • Pricing Options
  • Limited Free Plan
  • Personal Plans
  • Collaborator - $49/month
  • Professional - $149/month
  • Full Access - $249/month
  • Enterprise & Business Plans
  • Contact sales for pricing


Qualaroo is a unique surveying tool that utilises “nudges” to survey recipients while they’re actively browsing your website. The ability to ask people pertinent questions right as they are in the middle of a relevant activity (browsing sales, researching products) can greatly improve the quality of responses one receives in their market research surveys. Qualaroo also gathers and tracks a variety of important information for each of your website visitors, giving you the customer feedback you need to create a clear and actionable consumer profile. While offering some of the most intuitive and detailed consumer analytic software out there, Qualaroo’s high-end pricing plans are going to dissuade any casual market researchers from seeking out their product service.

  • Pros
  • Captures additional info about recipients like UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) data
  • Easy to read and highly informative dashboards
  • Feedback taken through conversion funnel allows for better intent visualization and consumer satisfaction metrics
  • Cons
  • Pricing options are very high - not for the casual surveyor
  • Lacks customizability for design and layout
  • Unable to receive responses in real time; users can only view responses once the test is completed
  • Pricing Options
  • Limited Free Plan
  • Essentials - $960/year for 100,000 tracked pageviews/month
  • Premium - $1,920/year for 100,000 tracked pageviews/month

What Helpfull Does Best

Helpfull is the premiere surveying software for anyone looking to get the most out of their efforts. With a vast variety of different question types to choose from, Helpfull market surveys can be generated and delivered to a sample size of upwards of thousands!

Here are some of the features that make Helpfull the premiere tool for owners, creatives, and people like you:

  • No Locked-In Price Plan
  • Affordable Surveying Options
  • Create with Pre-Designed Market Survey Template, or Create Your Own
  • No Extra Cost For Multiple Questions in a Single Survey
  • Wide Variety of Polling Demographics to Choose From
  • Get Responses & Feedback in Real Time
  • Save Your Favorite Answers for Easy Reference
  • Aesthetically Pleasing UI and Easy-To-Use Interface
  • Accessing Prior Tests Is Easy

A simple research survey could be all that stands between your company and the renewed success of it’s online data collection efforts.

An intuitive user-interface, coupled with the ability to gather hundreds of consumer responses in just minutes, are just a few of the features that make Helpfull the ultimate tool for any artist, designer, inquisitive spirit, or organization.

Achieve your goals - sign up with Helpfull today, and get surveying within minutes!

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