Exploratory Research Process1

Demystifying the exploratory research process with Voxco


Table of Contents

Following the exploratory research process in the right way matters more than ever now. In today’s time where the need for market research has increased due to a prerequisite for better understanding a business problem, defining a hypothesis, or boosting the knowledge base about potential customers, focusing on exploratory research process has become the need of the hour. Exploratory research can play a key role in fulfilling such needs as it helps to gain extensive insights, sharpen the focus, and determine the fundamentals required for impending growth. The use of research techniques like case studies, focus groups, expert interviews, or syndicated research can help to perform exploratory research.

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What is exploratory research?

Exploratory research can be defined as a form of a study conducted on issues that haven’t been properly investigated, so there is limited information present about them. The objective of conducting exploratory research is to gain an in-depth understanding of a particular problem. However, there’s no assurance that this type of research will yield any specific conclusive outcomes.


Exploratory researches usually start with a generic idea and the results of the conducted research can help to uncover the issues that are related to the research topic. This can play a crucial role in conducting research in the future, especially on a similar topic. While conducting exploratory research, the process keeps on changing as per the new data gathered or insights found. This type of research is conducted in the starting stage of an issue. The results of exploratory research help to solve questions such as what, why, how, and when. Due to this, this research is also known as interpretive research.

Why does exploratory research matter?

  • There’s no doubt that it’s difficult to stand out in today’s competitive market. By conducting exploratory research, businesses can effortlessly uncover details related to a subject that was not known earlier! Intending to give brands an edge in innovation, exploratory research lays the foundation for identifying an issue, occurrence, or phenomenon by determining its basic properties. Leveraging exploratory research, it becomes easy for companies to: 

    • Perform groundwork for various research types
    • Determine the matters that are crucial for their business
    • Gather opinions from the target market
    • Understand what’s worthy enough to pursue studies and research 

Uncovering the exploratory research process

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Start by defining the objectives of the research

To initiate the exploratory research process, it’s important to determine the goals first. You shouldn’t avoid this part as the research is an open-ended one. Consider the following issues for every research project:

  • What type of questions do you want to answer?
  • What type of answers do you expect?
  • What decisions are you likely to make on the basis of research?

By using terms like “uncover” or “learn” or “understand” as a prefix to your goals instead of “test” or “evaluate”, you get into the league of exploratory research. After you become aware of your exploratory goals, it becomes easy to specify what you prefer to learn and the questions that you aim to answer. 

Formulate an effective plan 

After establishing your objectives successfully, it’s time to create an actionable plan. You should begin by filling in the following details: 

  • Background research as well as stakeholder interviews for ensuring you take into account the previous work along with the in-house competencies.
  • A list of participants for recruiting. Here you should prefer finding people who resonate well with your objectives. In the case of exploratory research, focusing on behaviors is more important than demographics.
  • A precise yet targeted summary of your research objectives for addressing what you need to learn and how will you learn about it.
  • A declaration related to the methodology and the reason for selecting it. For instance, using the remote study as a method for capturing video from people’s daily routines and collecting answers to the open-ended questions for seamlessly completing the story behind those specific moments.
  • A chronology of research, i.e. when will it take place, how long will it take for analysis, and how the result sharing will happen. 
  • A detailed study plan outlining the instructions, questions, as well as activities for the participants.

Develop a guide wisely 

An interview guide or online study can play a pivotal role in the case of exploratory research. Usually, the guide gets categorized into three sections namely: an introduction, the experience part including the activities & questions, and the conclusion or wrap-up.


The introduction is used for ensuring that a participant is comfortable and understands what to expect. During in-person, start by introducing yourself & the topic to your participant and spare some time for the participant to ask questions. In the case of online, you need to plan a bit more as there’s no face-to-face meeting. It’s important to focus on regenerating the ease of a conversation & anticipating questions. You should introduce the topic, highlight what a participant can discuss, and provide answers to common questions.


To effectively plan this section of the study, one way is by getting back to your research objectives and frame 3-5 questions for each objective. It’s essential to include a framing question for each objective that empowers a participant to share what they do and feel. Also, don’t forget to include an elaborative question that asks the participant to share a story or quote an example. The other way of structuring the study is through each goal. This could be an inventory that lets participants showcase everything they do for a specific topic. It might be a process that features the step-by-step activity that participants go through. 


This is where participants need to look back on everything they’ve said and verify, elaborate, or fill in the required gaps (if any). Including some summative questions could be a great idea. Also, you need to make sure that participants know that their contribution is valued.

Conduct your research right 

Before sharing it with other people, it’s important to ensure that your study has got the right flow. Keeping that in mind, you should pilot the study with your team. This is extremely crucial in the case of online study as going back to missed issues is not possible. There’s another way of conducting research in waves, where you can begin with a small group of participants and then schedule another round with more participants. 

Once you feel you’re all set to launch, keep on monitoring the responses on the go. Firstly, this will help you identify the misunderstandings and make the required adjustments. Secondly, it will immerse your team in rich and descriptive responses.

Analysis is key 

To effectively analyze qualitative data, you need to discover the patterns. While analyzing in-person interviews, you need to review transcripts as well as tagging topics for seamlessly uncovering pain points, inspirations, along other themes. This can be done for online research as well but automated analysis can streamline this process. Automated analysis can play a key role in identifying themes in video, open-ended responses, or text transcriptions! By using robust survey software like Voxco, it gets easy to analyze the qualitative data gathered via advanced insightful dashboards

Presentation makes a difference 

Once your study gets closed, the most crucial part comes into the picture — taking the required action on the research. In most cases, research finishes with a report that either gets into an employee’s inbox or gets discussed quickly in a meeting. So, how to really make your team excited about it? That’s where presenting your research in a surprising, funny, and actionable way can help!  

  • Always keep it short and crisp that allows people to quickly get the gist of it. Always make sure that the information is insightful too.
  • Include different types of visuals like images, videos, and quotes for making your research interactive and bringing it to life.
  • Provide solid recommendations by addressing every issue with a relevant path.
  • Trigger creative thinking by ending with exceptional questions that inspire new approaches.

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