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Five Affordable Consumer Research Tools Thanks to the Internet, small businesses can now survey consumers quickly and easily for opinions about new products and other marketing plans.

By Susan Gunelius

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Five Affordable Consumer Research Tools

Before launching a new product or entering a new market, it's always wise to gauge potential demand by getting feedback from your target audience. That usually means surveying large consumer opinion panels that reach well beyond your existing customer lists.

Until recently, such market research was prohibitively expensive for many small businesses. Not only did you have to hire a company to conduct surveys, but you also had to pay to get the results tabulated and presented in interpretive reports you could use to make decisions. What's more, such surveys could take months to create, conduct and analyze.

Related: A New Way to Crowdsource Customer Feedback

Fortunately, the Internet has opened the door to some creative and affordable research tools that enable you to survey opinion panels quickly and easily. Here are five such tools, all of which can help you gather trustworthy market research on targeted audiences.

But first, determine your research goals and test each tool to decide which is most cost- effective, is easiest to use and provides the type of data tabulations you want. You don't have to pay anything until you send out your survey. Furthermore, you aren't required to sign a contract, so you aren't tied to using a specific tool in the future.

1. AYTM AYTM (Ask Your Target Market) enables you to create surveys on the fly and send them to your own lists or to the AYTM panel of more than 4.5 million people. You can choose targeting criteria, such as gender or geographic region, and include a variety of closed and open-ended questions, as well as images and videos. Pricing, which starts at 95 cents per completed survey, depends on the number and types of questions and the targeting criteria.

Most consumer panel surveys are completed within 24 hours, and you can watch your results as they come in. Results can be cross-tabulated and shared through your website, blog or other online medium. AYTM also offers qualitative research through one-on-one online video interviews; the cost depends on the size of the project.

2. GutCheck GutCheck is a qualitative market research tool that enables you to conduct 30-minute one-on-one online video interviews with some of the 3.5 million members of its U.S. consumer panel. You can target respondents through a variety of criteria, such as age and income, to ensure you're talking to the right audience.

Related: Conducting Market Research

If you don't have time to conduct the interviews, GutCheck can do it for you. Results are typically provided in less than 48 hours. You have to contact the company for price quotes, which will depend on the number of interviews and type of project.

3. uSamp With 6.5 million global panel members, uSamp provides custom targeting, as well as pre- defined consumer lists you can survey using its SurveyBuilder tool. Targets could include a specific country, a business-to-business audience, or an industry panel, such as food, automotive and travel. You also can survey your own lists.

Results are provided in real time, so you can see the data coming in. You must contact uSamp to obtain price quotes, which will depend on the range and focus of your study.

4. SurveyMonkey SurveyMonkey is best known for enabling you to send online surveys to your own lists. But it also offers a consumer panel that includes hundreds of thousands of survey respondents.

You can create and send custom surveys to the SurveyMonkey consumer panel using the targeting criteria of your choice. Results are provided within seven days for $3 per completed survey, or in 3 days for $5 per completed survey.

5. Zoomerang Zoomerang is another well-known tool for surveying your own lists, but the company also has two million consumer panel members you can question using more than 500 targeting criteria.

You should contact the company directly about costs, which will depend on the parameters and goals of your study. The other option is to create your survey online using the Zoomerang tool and fill out a form outlining your targeting criteria. A Zoomerang employee will follow up with a price quote.

Related: How to Do Market Research--The Basics

Susan Gunelius

Marketing, Branding, Copywriting, Email and Social Media Expert

Susan Gunelius is CEO of KeySplash Creative Inc., a marketing communications and strategic branding company. She has authored a dozen books about marketing, branding, social media, copywriting and technology and is the founder and editor in chief of, a blog for business women.

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