6 market research templates for when you don’t have the budget or time for market research.

In a world where marketers are frequently tasked with proving ROI, you can’t afford to make big mistakes or spend extra dollars. Knowing if a piece of creative will work before it goes live is ideal for marketers. Unfortunately, this information is inaccessible to most. The option is either blow your project’s budget and timeline out of the water or do the market research yourself. Market research templates are beneficial to marketers looking to improve their campaigns without increasing spend. First, some background on what market research is and what the industry looks like.

What is market research?

According to the Balance:

Market research is the collection and analysis of information about consumers, competitors and the effectiveness of marketing programs. While market research is crucial for business startup, it’s also essential for established businesses to increase profits. It’s accurate information about the marketplace, the target market (customers) and the competition that allows the development of a successful marketing plan.

5,400 establishments offer market research services in the United States that generate approximately $16 billion in combined annual revenue.  These firms help with anything from reducing overall business risk to testing the color of a digital ad. Results, however, often takes several weeks or months. In a time where things move at light-speed on the internet, most marketers don’t have the money or the time (or both) to invest in a firm.

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” ~ Peter F. Drucker

What is DIY market research?

Enter the DIY option. From free downloadable templates online to quick paid options, DIY market research templates have been a choice for marketers for nearly a decade. Popularized by companies like SurveyMonkey, this type of market research is an option for small business owners and enterprise-size companies alike.

Though varying, the cost of traditional market research is high for most companies. With a range from 15,000 to over 100,000, even the low end can be pricey.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about market research templates. This includes a background on what they are, an overview of DIY options, pros and cons, our top six DIY picks for market research templates and other solutions if DIY templates aren’t right for you.

What are market research templates?

DIY market research templates are exactly as they sound. They’re templates that allow you to do market research on your own. This could mean anything from a template for creating your own market research plan to a template for the final report and presentation to give your boss.

The most common type of market research template assists with the actual research being done. Often times, templates include a set of questions or fields that you can update and send out. You are then responsible for gleaning insights from that report and making a determination about what direction to move your company in.

DIY market research options were developed for small and mid-size businesses that don’t have the financial resources to hire a traditional market research firm. Nowadays, this still holds true but big companies are also using market research templates to test creative that doesn’t warrant the budget of a full, professional market research project.

Advantages and disadvantages of market research templates?

Doing research on the web is like using a library assembled piecemeal by pack rats and vandalized nightly. – Roger Ebert

Or is it?

While all market research template options assist with market research there are some disadvantages.

Quickbooks addresses the overall advantages and disadvantages of DIY Market research:

Doing your own market research usually expedites the process, since you eliminate the need for back-and-forth communication with a marketing research firm. Another benefit is the obvious cost savings, which may be a deciding factor. You can also retain all the research data gathered; depending on the firm and the specific data gathered, a marketing research firm might not allow you ownership of the market research findings.

However, you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage in doing your own research. Research marketing firms have experience in doing the work, and they may be able to get at and evaluate truly relevant data more effectively. Other potential drawbacks to conducting market research on your own include the time and resources required to gather adequate information.

To summarize:

Pros

  • Cheap
  • More control over what you’re doing
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Slow
  • Can be ineffective
  • No expertise
  • No analysis

Market research template examples

There are a few different options for templates. You can download market research plan templates, market research presentation templates, or templates for conducting market research such as surveys.

There are both free and paid options for DIY templates across the web. Here are a few of our favorite templates.

1.) Survey Monkey

While many are familiar with SurveyMonkey’s free survey platform, they also provide a variety of enterprise and otherwise templated market research options for businesses of all sizes. Other options for paid templates include ResearchNow and Qualtrics.  These platforms provide audience outreach options on top of the template with pre-created questions and results in graphic form. To give you an idea of price range: SurveyMonkey’s most expensive option runs at $99 a month and Qualtrics’s cheapest option starting at $300 a year.

Another option if you’re looking for something with a smaller time commitment but more accurate insights is market research automation.

2.) Templates.com

Templates.com provides a list of market research analysis templates from market gap analysis reports to cost analysis for market research programs and beyond. I’m lumping all these into one category, because these are the most DIY-ish of the DIY-ish. These are excel spreadsheets and word docs. All templates require you to find your own survey respondents, create your own questions, and look at your own results. Though undoubtedly the most cost-effective option, this is the most time consuming and also leaves the most room for error.

3.) Proposal template

Looking to get budget for a market research project? This template helps you do just that. If you think you have a project that warrants a larger market research budget this is an option for helping to gain buy-in. This is a great option if you have a larger initiative.

4.) American Marketing Association: Presentation Template

Created by the American Marketing Association, this template was designed to assist you in presenting your research findings and pitching action from the results. Whether you’re a marketer or market researcher, this is best for situations where you’re feeling like the research efforts you’re making aren’t being used.

5.) QuickSurvey Survey Template

These survey templates are divided into categories. The predetermined questions and responses have logic already matching your industry or survey purpose. This helps your survey yield more useful results. Use this option for surveys you already have an audience for but don’t necessarily know the audience you want to ask them to.

6.) Market Analysis Template

This template provides step-by-step instructions on how to do market analysis. Unlike many of the templates above, this template is designed for those looking to do market research on a business idea for a product or service before executing while other templates were more around creative to promote products.

Market research template alternatives

While the products above can be efficient if you’re extremely short on budget, they can be time-consuming and sometimes inefficient at pulling the answers you need. If you have a little bit more collateral to spend and don’t want to spend so much time waiting, another option for your organization might be market research automation.

Market research automation

A market research automation platform is similar to a market research template in that it’s less expensive and more agile than traditional market research options. Though more expensive than most DIY templates, a market research automation option can give you expert-level results in a fraction of the time.

The advantages of market research automation include:

  • Less costly than traditional market research
  • Expert results
  • Quick results (sometimes in hours)
  • Trusted by big fortune 500 brands including Coca-cola, Mcdonalds and more
  • Quick ramp up and easy to use: pick your product, answer a few questions and off you go

Disadvantages include:

  • Less control over questions and audience than DIY options
  • Some market research automation platforms are relatively new and haven’t yet perfected their methodology

How to decide what’s right for you?

There are a number of things to take into account when trying to determine what solution is right for your market research project. This section will walk you through the key questions you should ask before determining whether a templated option is right for you.

Timeframe

When do you need your results by? Are you looking to have something within the next 24 hours, several weeks or several months? If you:

  • Need it in hours or day: market research automation
  • Can wait longer/don’t mind having an unsure deadline: Automated template or market research firm

Time investment 

Templates require much more time investment and research up front. While they are cheaper, think about the time you’re willing to devote before making a determination.  Outside of the template above you’re going to need to take several steps to get where you need to go.

Price

How much are you willing to spend on this project? Consider the time you’re costing your company working on the project research as well as the amount in your budget. If you have the time to do the job effectively and don’t want to spend any money then a DIY market research option might be the best option for you.

Experience

How important is your market research experience to you? Having easy-to-understand data packaged and presented to you might be important. If so, DIY options probably aren’t the right choice for you.

Results

How important are the accuracy of the results and how confident are you in your own ability to secure those results? While DIY options are great for your piggy bank, they’re not backed by market researchers. Without a background on how to ask unbiased questions, what audience factors are most important and everything in between, it’s hard to get the results you want.

Though market research is a difficult necessity for many companies, there are cheaper, faster and less time-consuming options. With the number of online templates and solutions growing every day, there are many ways you can conduct the necessary research without breaking the bank.


To learn more about how market research automation might be a good alternative to DIY market research options, check out our case study.

ZappiStore helped Hershey’s Twizzler brand launch a comprehensive market research program that yielded impressive results.

Posted by

Sasha Laferte

Sasha Laferte is ZappiStore’s Head of Content She’s written for a wide range of digital marketing publications including Content Marketing Institute, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, Salesforce, Convince and Convert, and HubSpot. Her experience spans writing for marketing software companies to creating viral content for Wenner Media (the parent company of Rolling Stone and Us Weekly). Sasha enjoys marketing, tech, travel, fitness, sushi, and her cat. Sasha has a BA in Writing, Literature and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

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