How brilliant is your business idea? Conducting a simple market research is how to find out.

Researching your market helps you understand your competitors, the industry, and most important, your customers and reasons they will buy your product.

Long before you take serious steps to start a business, it’s a good idea to speak to potential users about their pain points, how your product can solve them and how much they are willing to pay for the service.

There are many simple, low-cost tests you can carry out. An easy way to do this is to observe customer behaviour around existing product in the market you are going after. This might require you to conduct questionnaire surveys, have a chat with potential clients or work as an employee in the market space you are going after.

All of these will provide you with critical perspectives on your product and the market you intend to serve. Below are seven things to consider if you want to conduct a market research at the lowest cost possible.

1 Define the goal of your research

Pick one key outcome that you’d like to achieve from your market research. Make it measurable. For example, you might want to measure the significance of the number of people willing to buy your product. Or learn if your pricing is just right.

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You might want to get data that show which competitors your prospects currently buy from. Your goal encapsulates your key hypothesis and assumptions around your product, the market and your customers. Having a defined goal for your research will enable you to select the right sample and strategy for your survey.

2 Determine the easiest customer segment to survey

You need to determine the particular customer segment that will provide you the most information you want. You can even be more specific about the demographic segment such as age or location.

However you need to go after the easiest groups you can reach. You may be setting yourself for failure by trying to survey busy C-level executives.

Describe in detail this group of people that you will survey and match them to your survey objective For example, for the particular purpose of learning about what competitors your prospects currently buy from; you might survey your non-paying leads in your mailing list.

3 Design your survey in the simplest way possible

Now you can start developing your questions. You will need to think about the question types and the phrasing of the questions. Then you will need to consider the ordering of the questions.

These details affect the accuracy of your survey responses, and response rate. Asking the right questions is often more important than the answer itself. Without investing time to carefully crafted questions, it becomes hard for the respondent to give the information needed.

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Your survey needs to flow logically to draw out the data that you seek. Consider running through your draft survey on a colleague to test the logical flow of your survey design.

4 Stack the odds in your favour to get responses to your market research

Consider the method for how you will attract respondents to your survey. Sending your survey via email is common. This is an easy way to scale the survey and at minimal to zero cost. When doing this, you need to frame the inquiry in a way that entices the respondent to complete the survey.

A benefits-based subject line. Incentive for completion of the survey such as free coupons. Short, well-written copy and a clear call to action in the form of a link or button to take the respondent through to the survey platform. These are all effective tactics for improving your response rate.

5 Use free survey tool to collect the data

By now you have designed your survey, and you can plug your questions into a free or low-cost online survey platforms such as SurveyMonkey, Typeform (we use Typeform) or Survey Gizmo.

These products have free plans that will allow you take advantage of small surveys to get you up and running with your initial steps.

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You can also use search.twitter.com, a Google-like search engine which lets you search Twitter posts – giving you access to find out what current trends are, see who is talking about products and where the hot-spots are.

6 Analyse the data

You don’t have to be a data scientist in order to draw value from your survey data. Just listen to your data, and test your hypotheses.

Information from the survey tool back end is usually sufficient to draw insight. But you might want to go further. DataCracker is an easy tool that helps you analyze survey data. You will be able to create tables and charts that show the statistical significance of your responses.

7 Follow up on your insights

The last step and most important is to take action based on your insights. Think about the original goal of your survey and your basic assumptions behind the questions. Take the new insights that you have discovered and apply them in your business.

Start with small experiments. Your results may lead to changing your pricing, how you communicate your marketing message or what future updates and product variations you intend to release. Ultimately, listening to your data will help you make a better product that is better positioned.