Product-market fit plays a critical role in companies’ success, helping them develop the right capabilities, reach the ultimate price point, minimize time-to-market, and improve business results. Research finds that the lack of a proper fit is one of the top reasons companies fail, making it a justified focal point. To succeed in a competitive landscape, companies must gather market feedback fast and iterate accordingly.
When asked about the challenges of finding product-market fit, Michael Seibel, serial founder and partner at the legendary YC startup program, said, “I often talk to founders who believe they’ve found product-market fit when they haven’t.” Companies that want to stop relying on gut feelings and start basing decisions on facts turn to market research for insights, only to discover new challenges they must overcome.
A 1000-Piece Puzzle: the Fragmentation of Market Research
In their search for answers regarding the target audience and industry pain points, businesses learn that many different tools are necessary to complete the task, with each one revealing only a fraction of the big picture. Ideation, prototyping, designing, and measuring all have their own platforms, and together, they create a fragmented flow that slows down the process and threatens its accuracy.
Today’s B2B market researchers typically gather data using these procedures:
- Qualitative and quantitative research: Teams conduct surveys via multiple channels to gather primary data. Today’s tools make qualitative research a whole lot easier.
- Attitudinal and behavioral research: Researchers test and challenge their presuppositions by analyzing real-world actions and comparing results. This is where beliefs meet reality.
- Generative and evaluative research: This part of the process dives into the problems, needs, and solutions related to the issue at hand.
Most market research tools focus on generative and evaluative research, with 46% of research professionals stating that it is the method they use most often. This leaves the Design and Product teams responsible for the important task early on in the company’s lifecycle.
The Missing Piece: Too many Market Research Elements
Gathering information using multiple tools often causes the following problems:
- Workflow damage
Companies cannot form smooth workflows that move from one segment to the next while maintaining data integrity and a cohesive language. Information might get lost or tarnished in the process, as platforms interpret the data differently or human error when manually transferring information.
2. Disconnection between the design and development stages
Maintaining the connection between design and development is always a challenge, but it becomes much harder to tackle when several tools are put to use. Product managers and designers face a clumsy process that requires hands-on involvement to successfully migrate the data using spreadsheets. The result is a longer, more expensive procedure with questionable results and poor communication between teams. This isn’t just a technical issue but a more profound problem related to trust and beneficial collaborations across the organization.
3. Difficulties in forming a central data system
Companies rightfully wish to create one central data system for all insights and records. This powerful method improves the market research process and results, standardizing the workflow and enabling fruitful knowledge sharing. When the process is broken into many disconnected parts, building a central data system is near impossible. Each research is a single-purpose event, and systems struggle to detect patterns. The result is a massive amount of unstructured data accessible only to those directly involved in the project. Knowledge isn’t shared effectively between teams, and serious effort is needed to allow any level of coordination.
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Common Market Fit Tools Aren’t Fitting the B2B Marketing Research
The selection of tools is too wide for market researchers’ and product managers’ own good. Leading product families include:
- Video-centric tools: The global pandemic made it clear that every process should be conducted effectively online. Video-based tools like Dovetail, a solution that integrates with Zoom to offer advanced user interviews and testing capabilities, have plenty of benefits. Research finds that 56% of market researchers appreciated the time effectiveness that allowed them to connect with remote users. Other advantages include cost-effectiveness, convenience, and more.
- Survey-centric tools: Survey technology can be embedded in the user journey to gather fresh insights. Tools like UserLeap automatically collect data and turn it into simple, clear reports that offer valuable feedback. This and other tools also include mobile capabilities, answering current market needs as 64% of companies use mobile surveys as a research method. Some tools allow researchers to manage panels and templates independently, while others find respondents to take the survey.
- Panel-centric tools: Studies find that user testing can be incredibly effective, and even a relatively small test group of five users can identify 85% of the problems. Audio and video recordings of user testing sessions offer insightful feedback through screen capturing capabilities that demonstrate real-world interactions with the product.
- Multi-channel tools: Very few tools qualify as multi-channel, but we are beginning to see this area evolve in recent years. Such tools may include surveys, usability testing, click testing, website intercepts, card sorting, tree testing, and more. Combining several research tools in one platform improves some of the challenges discussed in this article. Still, we see gaps in recruiting, knowledge sharing, audience targeting, and decision making.
Marching Product-Market Fit Research Forward
For product-market fit research to yield better results through an enhanced process, here are the requirements tools in the field must answer.
- Asking for user feedback directly within the product: Targeting specific audiences for the sake of gathering feedback may be time-consuming, and relevant users are available for feedback within the product itself. Innovative tools enable teams to embed micro-surveys into the site or product triggering questions based on real-time use. Presenting questions directly improves speed for research and development procedures and ensures that the feedback is as relevant as can be.
- Knowledge-sharing: Product management involves many roles, including designers, engineers, marketers, data scientists, and more. Unfortunately, most product-market fit solutions make essential information available only for research teams involved in the specific project. New and more advanced tools solve the data and knowledge-sharing problem by creating shareable reports that break barriers and keep everyone on the same page. Integrating research data with external platforms like Github and Intercom brings us closer to forming a centralized data repository for the entire product development process and all teams involved.
By embracing these capabilities and addressing the issues mentioned above, Vancery improves both the product-market fit research process and the outcome it delivers. Next-generation product-market fit software can produce better products the market truly needs, steering businesses in the right direction.