3 Big Ways DIY Research is Letting you Down

Jan 28, 2021

When economic realities shift and budgets shrink, it’s entirely understandable why you’d want to shift away from robust market research initiatives and take a “do-it-yourself” approach. The logic may go something like this: DIY is fast, cheap, and can give you the quick insights you need to make decisions at a time when you can’t afford to fall behind the competition.

But DIY market research isn’t necessarily the saving grace you may think it is. While it can provide some answers in a pinch and save you the costs associated with traditional market research, it also presents significant challenges that can ultimately override its benefits.

In a sink-or-swim market, DIY can only get you so far. Here’s a closer look at three ways DIY research may actually be letting you down, and why agile market research is a better approach, helping you survive and adapt in a tough market and drive greater growth when times are good.

DIY research is time-consuming and labor-intensive

“Time-consuming” and “labor-intensive” run counter to the notion that DIY is always a faster and easier approach to traditional research. What many businesses forget to consider is the time it takes to comb through all of the data and insights after a DIY survey is conducted or an automated dashboard is delivered. Remember, if you’re conducting DIY research, that means your internal resources are the ones who have to make sense of what comes back. Depending on the depth of the study and the impact you’re hoping the insights can make, that can take more time and effort than you’re really willing to put forth, and actually decrease efficiency.

If you have a smaller team to begin with, you’re asking them to take on this burden in addition to all of the other responsibilities on their plate. In reality, there’s little utility in getting quick results if your team has to spend inordinate amounts of time on the back end of a survey parsing the information on their own and coming up with actionable takeaways.

DIY research lacks quality

Online survey providers and other DIY tools tend to be one-size-fits-all. They have to be simple enough for a variety of businesses and skillsets to fire up quickly, but that means they’ll almost certainly lack true relevance to your industry, market niche, product category, audience, or other specific criteria. The results you get won’t have the level of accuracy and focus you need to effectively tackle the specific problem you’re trying to address, innovate in a way to meet your customers’ demands and, most importantly here, to be a leader in your industry.

Quality data comes in large part from thoughtful and caring study design, including representative sampling and respondent recruitment. Without these components, you’re either getting biased or generalized data that can’t, by their very nature, provide you with the accurate, detailed, nuanced insights you need to make the best decisions for your audience, products, messaging, overall brand health, and future growth.

DIY research circumvents necessary expertise

Internal insights teams that have decided on DIY market research may be making good-faith efforts to collect valuable data. But because it’s all too easy to use DIY tools, it’s also easy to ignore or downplay the role that research knowledge plays. If your team doesn’t have a comprehensive understanding of research design and measurement, respondent recruitment, data analytics, or other disciplines, DIY research can go down the wrong track and turn out to be far less useful than anticipated. Additionally, and through no fault of their own, internal insights teams will almost always come with varying levels of biased perspectives as they set out to conduct DIY research, which risks affecting the end results.

Additionally, the data you do gather has to be put into a human context if you want to fully understand, keep up with, and meet consumer demands. As one thought leader puts it: “The goal must not be to just collect relevant data, but to humanize the information so that clients/research buyers may use the results to achieve their business objective.” This is something DIY research tools simply aren’t set up to provide and something that many internal teams don’t have the expertise to do on their own.

Why agile market research is the better approach

At a time when budgets are reduced and consumers are less loyal than ever, agile market research provides you with the speed you need to adapt to evolving circumstances, especially in times of crisis, without undercutting quality or expertise.

Agile market research uses an iterative approach to get results quickly in a short time frame, and then iterate on those results in subsequent research cycles so that you’re continuously learning, refining, and responding. Because agile market research enables flexibility, you can respond to changes and evolutions faster and in more productive ways. Each short research cycle allows you to focus on a working, adaptive deliverable that meets the needs of the moment instead of struggling toward a large, static, and potentially irrelevant goal. Perhaps most importantly here is that agile research was built to fit into your project timelines – not the other way around.

When you work with an agile market research partner, you also get the benefit of quality research design and sampling that nets accurate, contextualized results. And their expertise in analyzing the results and recommending actionable next steps is invaluable. Instead of sitting on a pile of DIY data that you’re unsure what to do with, a partner can help you strategize and make informed business decisions so you know when, where, and how to capitalize on opportunities and strengthen your competitive advantage.

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