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The 5 Step Marketing Research Process

The 5 Step Marketing Research Process

Do you know the very first thing that’s cut from most marketing budgets for being “too costly?”

Research. Yep, research.

That’s like refusing to hire a chef for your restaurant and then wondering why none of your food is turning out right.

Marketing is nothing without a strong background of research and data. Otherwise you’re just stumbling around in the dark. Research is not optional; it’s everything.

Luckily, research doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive. Let us show you how…

1. Figure out the Main Issue

This is your foundation. Here, you really need to think long and hard about exactly what it is you’re trying to accomplish through marketing. Defining the problem typically means asking as many questions as possible and gathering all the relevant data you need to get started on the right track—not just any track.

Check out our guide to buyer personas here.

2. Construct Your Research Plan

There are quite a few tactics you can utilize to keep research costs low. Now that you have a plan, let’s proceed with our fact-finding mission in the most cost-effective way possible. Some of your options are:

  • Asking your clients. If you want some real data, get it straight from the horse’s mouth. Whether by phone or email, get personal with your customers about what makes them tick.
  • Use a brief survey. Less personal than an interview or email, surveys have the benefit of being quicker and easier for your customers, which may allow you to collect more data.
  • Conduct simple A/B tests on your website and monitor the differences between user behavior based on one tweak at a time.
  • Web research. Odds are someone in your niche has tried to tackle a similar issue before.

You might notice that all of these options are either free or very cheap. Now ask yourself why so many business skip this step entirely, and you’ll start to understand why digital marketing looks like magic to some people.

3. Gather Data

Information is a powerful currency, but comes in various grades of quality. While gathering data, do your best to ensure it’s as unbiased as possible, as well as data that covers all of your bases. That means collecting both emotional and logical information, such as survey scores combined with customer testimonials.

4. Analyze Data

Individual data points are far less important than trends—any given piece of information, no matter how unbiased it may seem, may actually be an outlier and nearly irrelevant to your marketing goals.

There’s on caveat—don’t go into data analysis with preconceived notions. We need to put on our goggles and lab coats and take the unbiased approach of a scientist rather than cramming data into patterns that don’t actually exist.

Guess what? If you’re wrong, that’s better than thinking you’re right. Being wrong means narrowing down your options to make future research easier. Faking outcomes doesn’t do you business any favors.

5. Make Magic

With research in hand, it’s now time to start formulating marketing campaigns. Marketing campaigns are the field test for your findings, and can further reinforce them or cause you to rethink your hypothesis. Both options are perfectly OK, and can only lead to business growth in the future.

As a marketing scientist, the process of gathering data and conducting research is never over. Trends shift, new patterns emerge, and staying ahead of the curve is the secret to marketing dominance.

As you learn more and more about your customers, industry, and your own company, you’ll see options you never new existed before. And that’s a beautiful thing.


I'm Dan, and I live in the back end. I’m always busy figuring out the behind-the-scenes tools and systems that allow us to serve as many clients as possible, as effectively as possible. It might not be sexy, but I’m all about the little details that can really make a difference when it comes to winning online.

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