person Guy Potter access_time January 29, 2020

The Importance of DIY Research

Another year of research is now well and truly underway. We have resolved a few political issues (!) and made it through another general election.

No matter what your stance is on Brexit and the government, there is a palpable feeling that businesses have more clarity on the direction commerce will take in the next few years. In turn they are feeling more focused on growth.

Now that 2019 is behind us, (see our round-up of research surveys in 2019), for any business that is looking at their strategy for 2020, research is always going to be a crucial element. Whether it’s market analysis, PR campaigns, ad campaigns, product feedback or marketing, surveys are a necessity.

We take a look at DIY research and how it can be a real asset to your business over the next year.


“I believe in innovation and the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts”

– Bill Gates

DIY Research

Even though there is more economic stability, marketing and PR budgets have pretty much remained the same, which has meant agencies or in-house departments are having to be more creative with less.

Gone are the days of big-spend research projects with weeks or months of waiting times for survey results to be processed and put into glossy reports. We now have access to realtime data and analysis from Google, social media platforms and a whole host of other reporting tools that are always available and easy to access.

This has meant businesses are able to do a lot more analysis in-house, which has given them more control over their data and enable more insights-led marketing. This is also true for national charities who need to keep their finger on the pulse of the 24-hour news cycle and piggyback on emerging news stories with samples of public opinion.

Having said that, there is still a place and time when an organisation requires a major pan-European or global research report, but, in the main, most businesses want to be able to create their own surveys more cost-effectively and quickly, putting them in control of outputs and data.

DIY surveys allow organisations to do just that. They enable users to create their own questions in their own format and be as interactive or ‘static’ as they choose. If you want to gauge opinion around video or simply send out a range of questions, then this is all possible and under your control.

Creative campaigns strategy

Today’s news agenda is fast. Stories come and go very quickly. What is covered extensively one day may be totally forgotten the next. DIY surveys are done in realtime and usually completed within 15–30 minutes, which allows an agency or inhouse team to also react in realtime.

Not only that, but if you’re looking to create a PR story for a client that may be short on their own news, then this form of research is ideal for fast turnaround news generation.

Creative campaigns, whether they are PR or Sales and Marketing-led, can be seen as something to consider during periods when there is more spend, but DIY research can work within tighter budgets and give your agency or team a bit more creative freedom.

DIY for more depth

DIY surveys can sometimes be seen as a method that is ‘cheap and cheerful’, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, we’re seeing more and more of our clients using it to gain more depth and understanding.

This depth is what we call iterative research, which means testing and analysing and changing a set of questions over a period of time.

For example, you send out a set of five questions on a topic and gauge response. From there, you send out another round of questions to gain deeper understanding of the first set of questions.

This iterative approach enables you to change or adjust plans or strategies accordingly. This is a particularly effective route for innovators or startups who are looking to gain feedback or get a better handle on consumer behaviours.

It’s also a more cost-effective route than investing in endless rounds of focus groups, which can be costly. Although it is fair to say that agile research will only take you so far in your customer analysis journey, but it does mean you can use your spend more wisely when you do need to start getting into targeted qualitative analysis.

With marketing spend set to stay relatively the same for a while yet, this approach will become even more popular.

Self-service research gives you the option to pick and choose what you want to do; whether it’s market analysis or news generation, it gives you the freedom to do this cost-effectively and very quickly.

And it’s not just something for startups or growing businesses, DIY surveys can be used by large organisations as well. There are times when small projects can pack just as much of a punch as a costly brand awareness push, so why not give it a try.

See also:

Agile Research

Charity Survey Tools

PR Agency Research Tools

Self-Service Research Tools

Guy Potter is maru / usurv's head of research and clients.
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