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Effective ways to do secondary research

Secondary research or desk research is a research method that involves using already existing data. Existing data is summarized and collated to increase the overall effectiveness of the research. Secondary research includes research material published in research reports and similar documents. The data points, although they are existing, are not easily accessible. Either they are highly-priced, or need some kind of subscriptions and so on.

These are some of the hacks which I personally use when I do secondary research and trust me these hacks work like a charm!

1. The "Case Studies aka Customer success stories"

Let's start with the basics, "What is a customer success story?"

Customer stories usually go into further detail on how the outcomes were obtained and what compromises were made along the way. A customer tale that can be thought of as a means to provide the intended audience with a "sneak look" into what might be their reality. This sneak peek provides enough information if you are conducting any secondary research, information in terms of impact in different KPI, such as revenue, customer acquisitions, lead generations, etc.

HubSpot case study snap shot

These data points will help you to narrow down your solution, to guesstimate the trend and project the outcome of your solution with proper justifications.

2. Consultancy Reports - One for all, All for one

Consultancy reports are written for a non-specialist audience. Often they are written in response to a request for information from an organisation or business or just for the normal audience ( marketing strategy?). The best part of these reports are, they are FREE! and BEAUTIFUL! and EASY TO UNDERSTAND! and FULL OF INFORMATION!

List of sources

These numerous firms conduct periodic surveys, on an organizational level, industry level or general and compile all the data into meaningful insight for the general public to consume it.

e.g. Deloitte Industry Outlook, (set the region before you access the reports to get more region oriented information)

3. Google Scholar - When Google is not enough

Google Scholar is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines!

Google Scholar aka the academic version of Google, will save the day by searching repositories of publishers, universities or scholarly websites rather than carrying out a generic web search. There are multiple filters available (not as robust as Google, but eh! something is better than nothing!)

4. Slideshare - The underdog

SlideShare is a slide hosting service, acquired by LinkedIn in 2012. It allows users to upload files (PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote, or OpenDocument presentations) either privately or publicly. The advantage of Slideshare is that users can upload files privately or publicly in PowerPoint, Word, PDF, or OpenDocument format. Content can then be viewed on the site itself, on mobile devices or embedded on other sites. SlideShare also provides users with the ability to rate, comment on, and share the uploaded content (yes! just like this blog) and these features helps you in filtering the right content

5. YouTube - One with the videos!

YouTube needs no introduction, but this source is a treasure chest for a data thirsty researcher if used properly. This platform holds almost all the videos that you might see in the above pointers, e.g. in customer stories, consultancy webpage, etc.

Use the YouTube search engine wisely and the advance filters that are available!

6. By Hook or By Crook

Disclaimer: Please do this when you don't have any other options left!

There are many firms who sell organizational/industry level reports just like consultancy firms (they are also into consultancy, most of them!) but at a cost (>2000USD).

e.g., Reportlinker, Plunkett research and many more.

You can search for your desired industry and ask for a sample report!

There are many other hacks/techniques to do secondary research effectively but one thing that is a must in all the above-mentioned points, e.g. smart Google search techniques.

Do share your feedback in the comments, if you have any other strategy, do share!


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