Understanding Research Methods and Design 101

Let’s be honest. Sometimes research is… well.. overwhelming.

When understood and utilized appropriately, research can provide a fantastic amount of horse-power for a marketing campaign. The size of a business greatly impacts how a marketer may interact with research.

  • Do you have the budget to conduct your own product and consumer research?
  • Or, do you have the budget to buy industry reports and data?
  • Does your target audience want to see research – if so, what kind?
  • What accountability measures are in place to ensure the marketing campaign represents the research ethically?
  • What’s the best way to visualize the research for readers?

The list of questions for a marketer + research could have readers scrolling for days! Here are essential elements of research methods and design so that marketers can confidently understand a research study or report.


Research Methods speaks to the type of research being conducted. This is helpful to marketers seeking to incorporate research from a study in their marketing campaign.

  • Depending on the context, a qualitative approach may be used, a quantitative approach may be used, or a mixed approach to research may be used.
  • There are a variety of methods including case studies, questionnaires, ethnographic studies, interviews, surveys for example.
  • Consider the integration of visual tools to convey the insights and data including videos, diagrams, mapping, photos, and thematic trees.


Research Design speaks to how the study was created and conducted. This is extra important to marketers who are leading a research study.  

  • Noting the research design allows others to understand the approach and design of the study. This helps readers understand findings and potentially replicate the study.
  • The basic elements of a research design include assignment, measurement, comparison groups, and treatment.
  • To strengthen a study, the marketer should be as thorough as possible with the research design and elements included. Terms such as validity, randomization, implementations, and inferences stem from the research design.
  • An important distinction for marketers to understand is the difference between quasi-experimental and experimental design. Depending on the organization’s need, conducting a quasi-experimental study may be sufficient. Experimental designs include control groups and randomization. Experimental designs are important when seeking information relevant to a broader context while a quasi-experimental study may be appropriate in certain situations.

With a basic understanding of research methods and research designs, marketers are better able to consider ways to integrate studies into their marketing campaigns. As campaigns assist business development and sales efforts, research has the potential of making a powerful impact!


Sarah SkidmoreAuthor Bio

Sarah Skidmore spurs the creative application of theory & strategy for leaders and organizations seeking to enhance their competitive advantage. Sarah serves as a consultant, freelance writer, and speaker for industries including plastics, construction, medical & pharmaceutical, food & beverage, and consumer products. e: Sarah@Skidmore-Consulting.com

Skidmore Consulting offers Innovation + Leadership + Marketing services to drive organizational growth and enhance the competitive advantage of clients. w: www.Skidmore-Consulting.com