A brief guide to market research on a shoestring

B2B Market Research
Qualitative Research
Online Market Research
Quantitative Research

Buying research can be expensive, but depending on what you’re researching, there are various ways to conduct market and user research without splashing out.


Use research that already exists.

You could start by trying a simple search on Google. Someone may already have done the kind of research you need.

Platforms such as the Office for National Statistics, trade journals, social media, industry news outlets or influencers and events/conferences can be full of valuable insights.

True, what you find might not be the most up to date or produced for the precise market you operate in, but chances are you’ll find something you can use. And it’s free!


Talk around your own departments. 

Spend some time asking people within your own business about how they perceive your products/brands.

As different departments engage with end users in different ways, that’ll give you varying insights into who your customers are.

Overall, it’ll provide you with a more in-depth understanding of your customers and the journey they go through with your business, besides getting wider teams involved in marketing projects.


Speak to your customers. 

Getting out and speaking directly with your existing customers – what better way to glean valuable insights into how they perceive your products and you as a brand?

You can make this an informal chat, or more formal using a tool such as Survey Monkey to gain feedback.

You can also create and share free online forms and surveys and analyse responses in real-time using Google Forms.

A real example: Online florist Bloom and Wild asked customers what they wanted to receive for Valentine’s day, and discovered that many people would rather receive a thoughtful gift than something traditional – like red roses – which came out as the least favourite gift that people had received for Valentine’s Day. As a result their no rose campaign saw a 4x increase in sales.


See your products and services in action.  

Experience your brand in real life scenarios. (Known as ethnographic research.) This would involve going out to spend some time checking out your real life target market to see how they interact with your brand.

You can do that in your stores, or by using tools such as Hotjar, a ‘product experience insights tool’ that uses behaviour analytics and feedback data to help you understand your customers through tools like heatmaps, session recordings, surveys, and a feedback widget.


Use your own data to your advantage.

Data gathered using tools such as Google Tag Manager and Analytics, social media reporting, Hotjar, website sales and others can provide you with valuable insights into your existing customers and sales trends to help inform your marketing decisions. Better still, this data is exclusive to you and free to use.

If you use a CRM, cleaning and organising this data can often reveal useful marketing insights to help guide your marketing decisions on when might be the best time of day to communicate, to profile your most valuable customers, or to see how well your products are working.


Research forums, social media and customer reviews.

Genuine customer reviews are a great way to learn how people really feel about you and your products, so it’s well worth taking time to read feedback, reviews on Google or other platforms. Look too at forum-based websites such as Reddit or trade forums.

Roll’s Royce’s campaign ‘At 60 miles per hour the loudest thing you can hear is the clock’ was written by marketing great Ogilvy. He spent three weeks reading about the car and came across a statement that ‘At sixty miles an hour, the loudest noise comes from the electric clock.’ This piece of customer research lay the foundation for arguably Roll’s Royce’s most famous campaign.


So there you have a sackful of useful ideas for where to gather some valuable marketing research data on a budget.


If you happen to have a marketing project you’d like some expert help with, just give us a call. You’ll find we’re full of great ideas.