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What Is the First Step in the Marketing Research Process? — Everything You Need to Know

The marketing research process is an essential step in creating a successful marketing strategy. It is a process that helps you reinforce your brand, stand out among competitors, and learn about your existing and potential customers’ needs and their attitudes to your products or services.

The marketing research process gives you an insight into which products or services your offer are most marketable and how to go about advertising them.

Although marketing research is considered an invaluable tool, less than 40% of companies utilize it. Thankfully, your business can choose to act differently.

How does marketing research work?

marketing research

Marketing research refers to the analysis of data gathered from your users and your competition. The data can be collected via social media monitoring, focus groups, product surveys, etc. This can help your business determine who your target audience is and what your brand can offer them. It can give you a better perspective of your marketing and sales services.

Marketing research also includes competitor analysis that compares your products and services with those of your competitors and provides valuable feedback. In addition to this, marketing research can show you how successful your marketing efforts have been and if and how you can improve them.

To ensure you use marketing research correctly, this article will guide you through the steps of conducting marketing research helping you harness all its benefits.

Step 1: Problem Diagnosis

The first step in marketing research is deemed the crucial one and it’s all about defining the problem. A properly defined problem results in clearly set objectives and the achievement of the desired result. This step is the marketing decision-maker’s responsibility and will dictate all the following steps in the marketing research.

The problem definition process should rely on three types of research/objectives:

  1. Exploratory research involves comprehensive discussions to identify opportunities.
  2. Descriptive research is conducted using product surveys to evaluate your market conditions.
  3. Explanatory research helps you determine if there is a cause-and-effect relationship between your company’s actions and your consumers.

After conducting these three research types, a research methods framework can be designed containing the defined problem, purpose, and research questions, as well as the methodology (data gathering and analysis).

Your company can either define the problem on its own, or it can hire the top SEO agency in the field and ensure the problem is accurately identified to avoid the marketing research going to waste, including all the time, money, and energy invested.

Once it is properly diagnosed, the problem definition is presented to the marketing researchers in the form of a research brief based on which a research proposal is made.

Step 2: Approaching the Problem

how to approach problems

The following step in your marketing research is deciding which approach to take when dealing with the problem. The problem at hand needs a properly formulated theoretical framework that determines the relevant data scope to be analyzed. In other words, you need to decide what type of information you need.

Furthermore, you also need to determine your research and analysis methods. You may decide on the pragmatic approach to collecting data including prospects interviews, product surveys, A/B testing, online research, etc.

In this phase, marketing researchers are required to make plans and discuss the problem with the deciding business authority, consult with industry experts, and examine previous case studies.

Step 3: Conducting the Research

Finally, after all the preparation, it’s time for the actual research to begin. There are two types of research to perform within marketing research:

  1. Secondary research
  2. Primary research

Secondary Research

Secondary research refers to the revision of the existing data and research already published and gathered by other researchers. These can be previous research projects, industry reports, internal data analyses, etc. Secondary research is an efficient way to find out useful information that can further shape and direct your primary research.

Primary Research

Once you have gathered all the possible information via secondary research, your primary research can commence. It can involve questionnaires or interview scripts addressed to a carefully chosen sample of your target audience. The collected data needs to be captured accurately for your results to be valid and useful.

Step 4: Analyzing, Interpreting, and Reporting the Findings              

marketing analysis and reporting

After the data is collected it needs to be converted into useful information that can be used to meet the research goals.

This step in marketing research involves:

  1. Data Analysis
  2. Data Interpretation
  3. Marketing Research Reporting

Data Analysis

For any analytical technique to work, the data must first be formatted, cleaned, and edited to ensure that it is suitable. Further on, the data is subjected to one or more analytical techniques such as:

  • An analysis of regression that can help determine relationships between factors
  • A predictive model that can predict patterns and cause-and-effect scenarios
  • A conjoint analysis that can help define priorities and tradeoffs
  • The analysis of unstructured data such as social media data, emails, audio files, etc. is used to structure the data and obtain value.

Data Interpretation

Data interpretation uses the results of the data analysis and explains the meaning behind the data. It also provided the managers with suggestions on the actions they should take depending on the data analysis results. For example, if the results of the data analysis point to your target audience preferring certain products your competitors offer, the data interpretation can pinpoint the reasons and suggest potential solutions.

Marketing Research Reports

marketing research

The marketing research reports rely on both data analysis and data interpretation to discuss the objectives of the marketing research project.

The reports can be presented via presentations or in written form.

Slide Presentations

Slide presentations are an excellent choice for demonstrating the market research results to internal stakeholders as they tend to simplify the more complex aspects of the project.

Written Reports

Written reports tend to be more thorough and detailed. Therefore, they serve the purpose of being examined and referenced in the future.

Step 5: Making Improvements

perform better

Just as the first step in the marketing research process is crucial to the project, so is the last one. Once you have obtained the results and interpreted them, you can take action to improve your marketing efforts or design a new marketing strategy such as SEO, etc.

If the marketing research results show your business is on the right path, you can intensify your efforts to strengthen the well-devised and successfully implemented strategy.

However, if the research results point to a different route to take, this can be a bit tricky. Managers may need additional explanations and a bit more persuasion to introduce a change to the management strategy.


The marketing research process is a valuable step in understanding and evaluating your company’s marketing plan. If executed well, it can pinpoint marketing strategy flaws and come up with ways of making improvements.

To ensure the marketing research project is conducted successfully, pay special attention to the first step and define the problem accurately. Also, make sure there is enough time and plenty of resources for the results to be interpreted properly so that they can be acted on effectively.

Whether you choose to perform the research on your own or contact an established agency for additional help, a well-conducted market research project will ensure an immense ROI increase for your business.

Nebojša Janković / Founder & CEO
I founded Heroic Rankings with desire to help other businesses increase their visibility and bring real customers. I love SEO and networking with people.

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