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Why and how to combine UX research with market research in the discovery phase and beyond.
Whether your company is product-first or a marketing-driven or, like many, both or neither of those extremes, it’s safe to say that the more people who get value from your research, the more buy-in you’ll get for more research across the company.
Sharing insights and resources between user research and market research initiatives can allow you to learn more, faster, for less money.
That alone is reason to keep marketing and product in the research loop together, but arguably more importantly, keeping product and marketing research aligned will ensure that what you build, how you market it, and how people experience it are all truly aligned.
Sian Townsend at Intercom explains the importance of thinking about user research beyond the product, and considering things like customer experience and marketing:
Restricting the role of user research to collaboration with just your product team means critical aspects of your customers’ experience are never evaluated. You’ll miss out on studying relevant parts of the customer experience that flank your core product, such as the marketing site where people first learn about your product, or your process for handling customers who have billing issues months later.
Market research can help you figure out how your product could be improved, and user research can help you understand how to market to your audience. Both can give you valuable insight into people’s pains and motivations, which are the foundations that you need to be successful across the board.
Here’s how you can bring it all together.
First thing to mention here is one of the golden rule of research, and business in general: know your goal.
When attempting to connect market research and user research, always keep your main objective in your crosshairs.
You can’t learn everything at once, but you can take advantage of the complimentary business goals that inevitably exist across your organization. Your job is to find the overlap between your core research objective and other research needs. As you share your goals and learn other team’s goals, opportunities to share relevant insights will appear organically, too.
How do you find the overlap? By looping your product people in with your marketing people from the very beginning of any research project.
It’s a pretty simple tip, but can be easier said than done. If you’re getting started on a user research project, tap someone from marketing, discuss how your research could inform marketing initiatives, consider adding relevant questions to your study that would be particularly valuable for marketing and most importantly, share your results at the end.
The key here is to lay everything out on the table so that you don’t end up duplicating research efforts or missing out on opportunities to share important insight across departments.
If you have a research roadmap, share those across teams and find areas to combine efforts, rather than duplicate them, or create avoidable gaps.
User researchers often use generative research to ask “what problem needs solving?” before they start coming up with solutions and asking “does this solution solve a problem?”
Market researchers are asking similar questions, trying to understand the market they’re building for, agnostic of a particular solution.
Jason Fried, CEO and Co-founder of Basecamp, used the “Jobs-to-be-Done” framework to understand product opportunities for Basecamp, an already very successful company. In his user interviews, he uncovered an important insight for marketing:
For eight years we’ve been talking about Basecamp as a project management tool. What was interesting to me was that very few customers that we talked to really talked about project management. They didn’t use that term or really even think of it in that way. That was eye-opening to me. Different people said different things and had different reactions, but for me not hearing the words that we use or not hearing the description that we use or not even hearing the positioning that we use, that we’ve spent so much time trying to hone was really eye-opening.
Generative research can clearly give you valuable insight for marketing, and the same thing applies in reverse. If you’re conducting market research (or you’ve already done it), chances are you’ll uncover ideas for problems to solve with your product. So, show and tell!
Good user researchers plan their research alongside the product development cycle. Here’s a simple version of what that might look like:
Market research frequently happens in the discovery phase. That’s useful because if you don’t have a market fit, once you build it no one will come. But it shouldn’t stop there. Companies that do ongoing research tend to to grow faster.
User researchers: share product research insights with marketers to keep them up to date and inform updates to positioning and message.
Marketers: your market has probably evolved since you first did market research to launch your company if it’s been a while. If you don’t have the budget for ongoing market research, take advantage of the discovery research your UX research team may already be doing. And if you do have the budget, theme of the article, share it!
The best research is habitual research, shared.
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Nikki Sequeira is a content marketer passionate about helping brands deliver more value to their customers. Writer, editor, strategic thinker. Traveling the world when not at home in Victoria, BC Canada.