A Research Strategy is a step-by-step plan of action that gives direction to your thoughts and efforts, enabling you to conduct research systematically and on schedule to produce quality results and detailed reporting. This enables one to stay focused, reduce frustration, enhance quality and most importantly, save time and resources. The Research Strategy is the nuts and bolts of your application, describing the rationale for your research and the experiments you will do to accomplish your desired goals. This post will discuss an extremely important phase in the process; clearly defining your research strategy.
In phase 1 we focused on inventory of all research, current and past. This week we will use that data to identifying specific research targets for both customer segments and feedback criteria.
This defined research strategy will also act as a reference point for benchmarking purposes so your company can see if it yielded the desired results. It requires the clear communication of targets and criteria ensuring all relevant stakeholders move in the same direction.
Identify gaps in existing data
A good place to start this process is to first examine the results of Phase 1 where you took an inventory of existing data and current research projects. With this framework you can identify gaps in data sets and create a research strategy that will compliment your company’s existing information.
Include all departments to maximize resources
Understanding the needs of your company’s individual departments, like marketing, communications, human resources and others, will help you to avoid repetitive research efforts which are both a waste of resources and damaging to communication channels with your clients. So determine data needs by department to make sure everyone is involved, to insure the highest possible value to your research investment.
Map out your customer’s life cycle
Another approach is to map out the customer’s life cycle in three steps.
- information seeking
- purchase decision
- product use
With these three steps you can visualize when you are attempting to reach your customers and evaluate whether or not the timing is appropriate for the specific information you’re trying to collect. You can also set the frequency at which you are requesting feedback or information from your customers; it is wise to avoid over-saturating a customer base with research inquiries.
What are your company’s priorities?
Once you’ve identified a need for data by examining your research inventory (established in Phase 1) and you’ve mapped out the customer life cycle to pinpoint the ideal timing for a research project, consider your company’s overall priorities to determine if a research project will help accomplish your goals. If so, then you’ve done your due diligence and moving forward with a research project is a prudent way to increase the likelihood of future success. As we’ve mentioned before, due to an ever-changing environment and variables it is impossible to predict with absolute certainty how a market will react to your product or service. However, an educated perspective of your consumer base will always improve your chances of achieving company-wide goals.
Our series will continue with – Phase #3: Conduct Research. We will discuss effective ways to communicate with your target respondents and keys to developing a successful research instrument.