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Online and mobile tools for market research

By Mike Courtney

Remember back in the day when business was slow and steady? No frantic rushing around, a calm and relaxed business environment. Much like a stroll down a country lane in the days when not much happened, and the changes that did evolve could be seen well in advance and dealt with over time?

Well, maybe I am not old enough, but I do not remember it either.

The pace of change our parents and grandparents might have known pales in comparison to today’s fast-changing climate.

If business is a highway, mobile marketing is certainly one of the fastest lanes you can be in today.

Here are some tips to keep you from ending up in the ditch:

Market research works
Market research has been around a long time, even before mobile phones – much less mobile marketing – were common, and remains an important tool for fast-growing business.

Keeping up with customer requirements often means keeping up with needs and desires that can change literally overnight.

Formal market research has traditionally cost more than most small- and medium-sized businesses can afford, and could take weeks or months to develop, execute and analyze.

Not anymore.

Using online and mobile survey tools
Today’s research tools are smarter, faster and even allow you to research on the go to ensure planned campaigns will strike a chord with your target market – before the target market starts singing their next “tune.”

Tools such as Zoomerang or Survey Monkey allow creation of detailed surveys.

The trick is figuring out how to get consumers from your target market to respond.

Having a loyal customer or contact list is critical if you go this route.

If you do not have a customer list, you might try sharing your survey with your social graph on Facebook or a personal blog.

Other newer, self-service online and mobile market research tools help with validation of marketing concepts.

In the mobile arena, there are iPhone applications, for instance, which can be used to survey consumers.

Haveasec and Survey on The Spot allow you to send a mobile survey to your customers. They do not provide you with those target consumers.

Thumbspeak will find consumers to answer your survey on their iPhones but you have to buy your consumer respondents from its partner Peanut Labs.

Online self-service target market research tools such as let you survey consumers who own mobile devices and enable you to show them images and video to test their response to mobile campaigns.

Mitigating risk
However you choose to go about it, doing a little research before you run your next campaign will help you learn consumer preferences and maintain a steady speed on the road to mobile marketing.

It is a lot less expensive to do your market research before you run campaigns than to make the buy and pray for an ROI.

Market research can help on the road to business success, so buckle-up and enjoy the ride.

Mike Courtney is Dallas-based executive advisor of market research science for and founder of Aperio Insights, a consulting agency focused on marketing research and analysis. Reach him at [email protected].