The internet is built for research. Whether it’s a consumer shopping around for prices, a researcher exploring a topic, or a fan looking up their favorite band, the internet makes finding and analyzing information easier than ever before. That’s because everything people do online leaves a data footprint.
Consumers are able to research companies and products easily, gathering information to compare prices and services with a few clicks of the mouse. Consumers are also able to share likes and dislikes easily, whether that information is shared with companies or with friends.
This process can also work in reverse: brands can study who their customers are, what they are interested in, how they feel about the brand, and the best times and places to engage with them. This is what online market research is all about.
In this resource, you will learn the following:
· why online market research is crucial to any marketing endeavor
· the most important concepts you need to know in order to start conducting research
· several methods for conducting online research, including surveys, online focus groups and online monitoring
· what problems and pitfalls to avoid when researching online
The modern world is unpredictable, and things change very quickly in the digital age. It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with trends, customer needs, popular opinions, and competitors—and at the same time, staying at the forefront of the market is vital to success.
So, how can you keep your brand current and ensure you are meeting your customers’ needs?
The answer is to conduct market research. Market research helps you make informed business decisions. It involves systematically gathering, recording, and analyzing data about customers, competitors and the market, and turning this data into insight that can drive marketing strategies and campaigns.
Online market research is the process of using digital tools, data, and connections to glean valuable insights about a brand’s target audience. In other words, it’s the process of learning about your audience by engaging and observing them online. Technology plays a key role in gathering data and connecting with research participants, and makes the whole process quicker and easier to manage than traditional offline research methods.
Traditional and online market research have the same goals and underlying principles, but online market research has the benefit of using digital technology, which provides a range of benefits:
· The internet is always on, meaning that data are readily available at any time.
· Many of the processes for finding, gathering and storing data can be automated. For example, you can get an automatic email alert if someone mentions your brand, or you can set up self-administered digital surveys.
· You have access to a large number of participants around the world at the click of a button.
· A lot of the information you will use is already being automatically collected (such as web analytics and social media data). All you need to do is access it.
· People are often happy to share their own research, insights, and methodologies online, so you can access this trove of resources to inform your own research.
· Online market research can be much more cost effective and quick to set up than traditional research techniques.
There are many reasons to conduct regular market research:
· gain insights into your consumers
· what customers want and need from your brand
· what customers like and dislike about the brand
· why customers buy the brand’s products or services
· why potential customers might choose your brand over another one
· why (or why not) customers make repeat purchases
· understand the changes in your industry and business
· discover new market trends on which you can capitalize
· find new potential sales avenues, customers, products, and more
· find and engage new audiences
· allow customers to help steer your business
If you are able to understand your customers and the greater business context, you will be able to market more effectively to them, meet their needs better, and drive positive sentiment of your brand. All of this adds up to happier customers and, ultimately, a healthier bottom line.
While the research field can be full of complex terminology, there are four key concepts you should understand before conducting your own research:
· research methodology
· qualitative and quantitative data
· primary and secondary research
A research methodology is the process you should follow in order to conduct accurate and valuable research. Research should involve the following steps:
1. Establish the goals of the project.
2. Determine your sample.
3. Choose a data collection method.
4. Collect data.
5. Analyze the results.
6. Formulate conclusions and actionable insights (for example, producing reports).
Most often, market research is focused around specific issues unique to a business or brand. It is therefore not always possible to get hold of comparable information to aid decision making. This is why it can be useful to start from a specific research problem or hypothesis.
Your research question should guide your entire process and will determine your choice of data collection method.
Research can be based on primary data or secondary data. Primary research is conducted when new data is gathered for a particular product or hypothesis. This is where information does not exist already or is not accessible, and therefore needs to be specifically collected from consumers or businesses. Surveys, focus groups, research panels and research communities can all be used when conducting primary market research.
Secondary research uses existing, published data as a source of information. It can be more cost effective than conducting primary research. The internet opens up a wealth of resources for conducting this research. The data would, however, originally have been collected for solving problems other than the one at hand, so they may not be sufficiently specific. Secondary research can be useful in identifying problems to be investigated through primary research.
The internet is a useful tool when conducting both primary and secondary research. Not only are there a number of free tools available for calculating data like sample size and confidence levels (see the section Tools of the Trade for examples), but it is also an ideal medium to reach large numbers of people at a relatively low cost.
Research based on secondary data should precede primary data research. It should be used in establishing the context and parameters for primary research in the following ways:
· The data can provide enough information to solve the problem at hand, thereby negating the need for further research.
· Secondary data can provide sources for hypotheses that can be explored through primary research.
· Sifting through secondary data is a necessary precursor for primary research, as it can provide information relevant to sample sizes and audience, for example.
· The data can be used as a reference base to measure the accuracy of primary research.
Companies with online properties have access to a wealth of web analytics data that are recorded digitally. These data can then be mined for insights. It’s worth remembering, though, that it’s usually impossible for you to access the web analytics data of competitors, so this method will give you information only about your own customers.
Customer communications are also a source of data that can be used—particularly communications with the customer service department. Committed customers who complain, comment, or compliment are providing information that can form the foundation for researching customer satisfaction.
Social networks, blogs, and other forms of social media have emerged as forums where consumers discuss their likes and dislikes, and can be particularly vocal about companies and products. These data can, and should, be tracked and monitored to establish consumer sentiment. If a community is established for research purposes, these should be considered primary data, but using social media to research existing sentiments is considered secondary research.
The internet is an ideal starting point for conducting secondary research based on published data and findings. But with so much information out there, it can be a daunting task to find reliable resources.
The first point of call for research online is usually a search engine, such as www.google.com or www.yahoo.com. Search engines usually have an array of advanced features, which can aid online research. For example, Google offers the following:
· advanced search (http://www.google.co.za/advanced_search?hl=en)
· Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.co.za/schhp?hl=en)
· Google Book Search (http://www.google.co.za/books?hl=en)
· Google News Archive (http://news.google.com/newspapers)
Many research publications are available online, some for free and some at a cost. Many of the top research companies feature analyst blogs, which provide some industry data and analysis free of charge. Some notable resources include Experian, Pew Internet, Nielsen, and World Wide Worx.
Primary research involves gathering data for a specific research task. It is based on data that has not been gathered beforehand. Primary research can be either qualitative or quantitative.
Primary research can be used to explore a market and can help to develop the hypotheses or research questions that must be answered by further research. Generally, qualitative data is gathered at this stage. For example, online research communities can be used to identify consumer needs that are not being met and to brainstorm possible solutions. Further quantitative research can investigate what proportion of consumers share these problems and which potential solutions best meet those needs.
Data can be classified as qualitative or quantitative. Qualitative research is exploratory and seeks to find out what potential consumers think and feel about a given subject. Qualitative research aids in identifying potential hypotheses, whereas quantitative research puts hard numbers behind these hypotheses. Quantitative research relies on numerical data to demonstrate statistically significant outcomes.
The internet can be used to gather both qualitative and quantitative data. In fact, the communities on the web can be viewed as large focus groups, regularly and willingly sharing their opinions on products, markets, and companies.
When both qualitative and quantitative research are used, qualitative research usually takes place first to get an idea of the issues to be aware of, and then quantitative research tests the theories put forward.
The main differences between quantitative and qualitative research are represented in the following table.
|Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research|
|Data gathered||Numbers, figures, statistics, objective data||Opinions, feelings, motivations, subjective data|
|Data sources||Surveys, web analytics data||Focus groups, social media|
|Purpose||· Tests known issues or hypotheses|
· Seeks consensus
· Generalises data
|· Generates ideas and concepts; leads to issues or hypotheses to be tested|
· Seeks complexity
· Puts data in context
|Advantages||Statistically reliable results to determine if one option is better than the alternatives.||Looks at the context of issues and aims to|
|Challenges||Issues can be measured only if they are known prior to starting. Sample size must be sufficient for predicting the population||Shouldn’t be used to evaluate pre-existing ideas. Results are not predictors of the population.|
Both quantitative and qualitative research can be conducted online.
Web analytics packages are a prime source of data. Using data such as search terms, referral URLs, and internal search data can lead to qualitative information about the consumers visiting a website. However, data that is measurable and specific, such as impressions and click rates, lead to quantitative research.
Qualitative research is usually conducted with a small number of respondents in order to explore and generate ideas and concepts. Quantitative research is conducted with far larger numbers, enough to be able to predict how the total population would respond.
Sample size is an important factor in conducting research and should be representative of the population you are targeting as a whole. If your business transacts both online and offline, be aware that using only online channels for market research might not represent your true target market. However, if your business transacts only online, offline channels for your market research are less necessary.
Because quantitative research aims to produce predictors for the total population, sample size is very important. The sample size needs to be sufficient in order to make statistically accurate observations about the population.
For example, if you have 4,000 registered users of your website, you don’t need to survey all of them in order to understand how the entire population behaves. You need to survey only 351 users to get a sample size that gives you a 95 percent confidence level with a ± 5 percent confidence interval. This means that you can be 95 percent sure your results are accurate within ±5 percent.
There are several sample size calculators mentioned in the section Tools of the Trade, below.
There are many online market research methodologies. This chapter touches on three of the most popular and useful ones: surveys, online focus groups, and social media monitoring.
Which methodology should you choose? That all depends on a variety of factors, from your research question and purpose to your budget and time. Here are some general pointers:
· surveys—Ideal for collecting large amounts of quantitative data (and some qualitative data, too). They are quick and easy to set up and can run automatically.
· online focus groups—Ideal for engaging consumers and collecting qualitative data such as opinions, ideas, and feelings about the brand. They require a larger time investment and a willing group of participants.
· online monitoring—Ideal for collecting qualitative data on brand sentiment, and can also provide some quantitative data around volume of interest in the brand/ These data can be collected passively, and there are several tools for automation.
Surveys are questionnaires that contain a series of questions around a specific topic. Their purpose is to gather large volumes of quantitative data easily, though they can also collect qualitative data.
Conducting surveys online allows for data to be captured immediately, and data analysis can be performed easily and quickly. By using email or the internet for conducting surveys, geographical limitations for collecting data can be overcome cost effectively.
Technology allows you to compile sophisticated and user-friendly surveys. For example, as opposed to indicating impressions on a sliding scale, respondents can indicate emotional response. Or the survey can be tailored depending on previous answers (such as questions being skipped if they are not relevant to the respondent).
You can run ongoing online surveys at minimal cost. Simple polls can be used in forums and on blogs to generate regular feedback. Website satisfaction surveys are also an easy way to determine the effectiveness of a website or marketing campaign.
A growing survey trend is getting instant feedback on questions or ideas from an existing community (such as a trusted group of thought leaders, your brand’s social media fans, or an established research community). Examples include the many Facebook polling apps and real-time mobile survey platforms such as InstantAfrica (www.instantafrica.com).
How you design a survey and its questions will directly impact on your success. A survey can include any number and type of questions, and more complicated questions should appear only once users are comfortable with the survey.
Be careful that you do not introduce bias when creating questions by asking leading questions.
Incorrect: We have recently introduced new features on the website to become a first-class web destination.
What are your thoughts on the new site?
Replace with: What are your thoughts on the changes to the website?
In general, you will also find that you get more accurate answers when phrasing questions in the past tense than in the continuous tense.
Incorrect: How many times a week do you buy take-away food?
Replace with: In the past month, how many times did you buy take-away food?
Questions in the survey should be brief, easy to understand, and easy to answer.
The four types of survey questions are described below.
Title of the Tab Navigation
Open-ended questions allow respondents to answer in their own words. This usually results in qualitative data.
Example: What features would you like to see on the website for the digital marketing textbook?
These questions give respondents specific responses from which to choose. These are typically multiple-choice questions with either one or multiple possible answers. This results in quantitative data.
· Do you use the digital marketing textbook website?
· What features of the digital marketing textbook website do you use? Tick all that apply.
· Case studies Free downloads
· Additional resources
These questions ask respondents to rank items in order of preference or relevance. Respondents are given a numeric scale to indicate order. This results in quantitative data.
Example: Rate the features of the digital marketing textbook website, where 1 is the most useful and 4 is the least useful.
· Case studies
· Free download
· Additional resources
These types of questions can be used to quantify qualitative data. Respondents are asked to rank behavior or attitude.
Example: Rate the features of the digital marketing textbook website according to the following scale: 1 = love it, 2 = like it, 3 = no opinion, 4 = dislike it.
· Case studies
· Free downloads
· Additional resources
Online focus groups involve respondents gathering online and reacting to a particular topic. Respondents can be sourced from all over the world and react in real time, arguably being freer with their responses since they can be anonymous in an electronic environment.
Online focus groups are ideal for having frank, detailed conversations with people who have an interest in your brand. This means they result in primary, qualitative data. This information can then be used to create quantitative research questions.
Online focus groups can be conducted by using a range of technologies. The simplest is to use a text-based messaging program or online forum; there are many options available. More sophisticated tools allow for voice or video conferencing, and can make it easier for the researcher to pick up clues from the respondent’s voice and facial expressions. Some tools allow the researcher to share their desktop screen with respondents in order to illustrate a concept or question.
Good options for conducting online focus groups include the following: Google Hangouts, Skype, and GoToMeeting. Usually running for between one and two hours, focus groups are used to get consumer views on the following:
· new products or marketing campaigns
· existing products and campaigns, and how they can be improved
· sentiment around the brand
· views on a brand’s new direction or visual style
· ideas for how the brand could improve its position or branding.
Online focus groups are excellent for collecting a lot of qualitative data quickly. When setting up the group, try to include enough participants to keep the conversation alive, but not too many so that some get drowned out by others—eight to ten is a good range. Also consider that you may run into technical troubles if people are connecting from different locations and internet connections—be prepared to do some basic troubleshooting if this happens.
There are a number of ways you can recruit participants for an online focus group. This could include inviting people from your existing customer database, going through a traditional market research recruiting agent, or putting a call out on your website or social media communities. It is common practice to offer a small incentive to people who participate in a focus group, as it is a fairly time-intensive activity.
Finding out if people are talking about you is quite difficult in the offline world, but almost effortless online. Rather than having to conduct real-world surveys and interviews, in the digital world you can simply “listen” to the conversation happening about you.
Keywords—the foundation to categorizing and indexing the web—make it simple to track conversations taking place online. Customers don’t always use channels designated by a company to talk about that organization, but the good news is that the internet makes it easy for a company to identify and use the channels that customers have selected.
Online tools allow a company to track mentions of itself, its staff, its products, its industry, and its competitors—anything else that is relevant. This is called online monitoring or online listening; you are simply using digital tools to find and tap in to existing conversations. The tool then gathers and collates all the mentions it finds, so that you can analyze the data for insights.
Typically, searches include the following main focus areas:
· brand name
· key products
· key personnel (names, job titles, etc.)
· key campaigns and activities
· brand names
· product launches
· website updates
· job vacancies
· key people
There are four different types of searches you can perform to track relevant brand keywords. Each modifies the specific type of data collected and aims to improve the quality and depth of the data you gather.
The four operators are as follows:
· broad match—e.g. Apple Computers. This is when any of or all words must be found in the mention.
· direct match—e.g. “Apple Computers.” This is denoted by quotation marks and dictates that the tool should find mentions only where the phrase appears complete and in order in the content.
· inclusive match—e.g. Apple + computers. This is denoted by a plus sign directly before a word or phrase. This will direct the tool to search for any mention that contains both Apple and computers, although not necessarily in that order.
· exclusive match—e.g. Apple – fruit. This is denoted by a minus sign directly before a word or phrase. This will instruct the tool to include only mentions that contain the first word or phrase but not when the second word is also in the same mention.
Combinations of these four types of searches (operators) can be used to improve accuracy. For example: “Apple Computers” + “steve jobs” – fruit.
Applying this theory to the groupings above, some keywords used for Apple might be:
· “Apple computers”
· Apple + Macbook, “iPod nano”, “Macbook Air”, “iTunes” + music – radio
· “Steve Jobs”
· “Consumer Electronics Show” + “Las Vegas”
It is also important to track common misspellings, all related companies and all related websites. Tracking the names of people key to a company can highlight potential brand attacks, or can demonstrate new areas of outreach for a company.
Brand names, employee names, product names and even competitor names are not unique. To save yourself from monitoring too much, identify keywords that will indicate that a post has nothing to do with your company, and exclude those in your searches.
For example, apple could refer to a consumer electronics company, or it could appear in a post about the health benefits of fruit. Finding keywords that will indicate context can help to save time. So, you could exclusive-match words such as fruit, tasty and Granny Smith.
Thankfully, online listening does not entail hourly searches on your favourite search engine to see what conversations are taking place online. There are many different tools that monitor the web, and supply the results via email alerts or RSS feeds or a web dashboard.
Google has several bespoke search services and periodically adds more to the list. With the services below, an RSS feed is available for the search (Google Alerts sends weekly or daily emails with updates), so that all updates can be available through a feed reader:
· Google Alerts will send an email when the keyword is used in either a credible news item or a blog post.
· Google News searches all news items for mentions of a keyword.
· Google Blog Search searches all blog posts for mentions of a keyword.
· Google Patent Search allows you to keep track of all filings related to an industry, and searches can be done to see if there are patent filings which might infringe on other patents.
· Google Video Search relies on the data that have been added to describe a video, and will return results based on keyword matches.
There are several search engines that focus solely on tracking blogs, news, and other social media, and can provide trends for searches. In addition to providing regular updates of new postings, these search engines can also provide an overview over a certain period of time.
· Technorati tracks blogs and tagged social media.
· Socialbakers provides a series of social media listening options.
· On Flickr, RSS updates for searches on a particular keyword will reveal when a brand name has been used in tagging a photo.
· With Delicious, an RSS feed can be created for URLs tagged with keywords, or for new bookmarking of a URL.
In addition to these mostly free tools, there are also a number of premium paid tools available to make the process easier and more robust. See the section Tools of the Trade below for more suggestions.
Listening is the first step to getting involved in the conversation surrounding a company. Using search tools and RSS feeds means that information can be accessed quickly and in one place, without the need to visit hundreds of websites. Social media engagement is often the next step in keeping these customers engaged.
There are various tools available to the online researcher for conducting personal interviews, such as private chat rooms or video calling. The internet can connect a researcher with many people around the world and make it possible to conduct interviews with more anonymity, should respondents require it.
Taking its cue from offline ethnography, online ethnography requires researchers to immerse themselves in a particular environment. In this way insights can be gathered that might not have been attainable from a direct interview. However, they do depend more heavily on the ethnographer’s interpretation and are therefore subjective.
Although online communities are a valuable resource for secondary research, communities can also provide primary data. General Motors’ Fast Lane blog is an example of an online research community that helps gather research data. The blog can be used as a means to elicit feedback to a particular research problem. This is qualitative data that can aid the company in exploring their research problem further. In many cases, social media can be used to gather insight about a brand or customer experience. It is important to remember, however, that a representative sample is necessary for making solid conclusions.
When developing websites and online applications, usability testing is a vital process that will ensure the website or application is able to meet consumers’ needs. Listening labs involve setting up a testing environment where a consumer is observed using a website or application.
Conversion optimisation aims to determine the factors of an advert, website or web page that can be improved in order to convert customers more effectively. From search adverts to email subject lines and shopping cart design, tests can be set up to determine what variables are affecting the conversion rate.
As the researcher, you know what’s in it for you when sending out a survey: you will receive valuable insights that will aid in making business decisions. But what is in it for the respondents?
According to Survey Monkey, the ways in which the surveys are administered play a role in response rates, and these can be relative (University of Texas, 2011):
· mail—50 percent adequate; 60 to 70 percent good to very good
· phone—80 percent good
· email—40 percent average; 50 to 60 percent good to very good;
· online—30 percent average
· classroom pager—50+ percent good
· face to face—80 to 85 percent good
Response rates can be improved by offering respondents an incentive for participating in the research, such as a chance to win a grand prize, a discount or special offer for every respondent, or even the knowledge that they are improving a product or service that they care about.
Some researchers feel that monetary incentives are not always a good thing. Some respondents may feel that they need to give “good” or “correct” answers that may bias your results. Alternatively, you may attract respondents who are in it just for the reward. One approach could be to run the survey with no incentive, with the option of offering one if responses are limited.
Designing the survey to assure respondents of the minimal time commitment and their privacy can also help to increase responses.
With all research, there is a given amount of error to deal with. Bias may arise during surveys and focus groups (e.g.,interviewers leading the respondents) or be present in the design and wording of the questions themselves. There could be sample errors or respondent errors. Using the internet to administer surveys removes the bias that may arise from an interviewer. However, with no interviewer to explain questions, there is potential for greater respondent error. This is why survey design is so important, and why it is crucial to test and run pilots of the survey before going live.
Respondent errors also arise when respondents become too familiar with the survey process. The general industry standard is to limit respondents to being interviewed once every six months.
Sample error is a fact of market research. Some people are just not interested, nor will they ever be interested, in taking part in research. Are these people fundamentally different from those who do? Is there a way of finding out? To some extent, web analytics, which track the behavior of all visitors to your website, can be useful in this determination.
When conducting online research, it is crucial to understand who is in the target market and what the best way to reach that target market is. Web surveys can exclude groups of people due to access or ability. It is vital to determine if is this is acceptable to the survey, and to use other means of capturing data if not.
Regular research is an important part of any business’s growth strategy, but it can be tough to justify the budget necessary for research without knowing the benefit. Conducting research can cost little more than an employee’s work hours, depending on his or her skills, or it can be an expensive exercise involving external experts. Deciding where your business needs are on the investment scale depends on the depth of the research required and the expected growth the business. When embarking on a research initiative, the cost to benefit ratio should be determined.
Testing should be an ongoing feature of any digital marketing activity. Tracking is a characteristic of most digital marketing, which allows for constant testing of the most basic hypothesis: is this campaign successful in reaching the goals of the business?
The following market research can be helpful for those in the industry. The list below is divided according to the tool’s function:
· Creating and managing online surveys
· Kwik Surveys:
· Google Forms: accessed through Google Drive
· Qualaroo Insights (unique real-time offering):
· Split test calculator—User Effect, LLC
· Sample size calculator—Rogerwimmer.com
· Internet Usage World Stats—Internetworldstats.com
· Google Think
· Silverback usability testing software
· Mobile-based survey tools
· Pondering Panda
· Instant Africa
· Ideo Method Cards app (ideas for qualitative research)
· Premium Online Monitoring Tools
· SalesForce Marketing Cloud
Market researchers are increasingly turning to online tools in their research processes. The internet allows for research at a far lower cost; it can also more easily cross geographic boundaries and can speed up the research process.
This is not to say there are not downsides. While the internet makes it possible to reach a far larger group of people without the cost of facilitators, this does come with some challenges. For example, you cannot control the environments in which information is being gathered. For an online sample, it’s important to focus on getting the correct number of people to make your study statistically viable. If your questions are not carefully drafted, confusing questions could lead to answers that are flawed or not relevant. Additionally, online incentives could lead to answers that are not truthful, meaning that the value of the data could be questionable.
The value of internet research should by no means be discounted, but it is important to consider the nature of the study carefully, and interrogate the validity and legitimacy of the data as a valid representation. Data is meaningful only if it is representative, so make sure to establish goals and realistic expectations for your research.
The Rocking the Daisies music festival used online monitoring to measure return on investment (ROI) for sponsors and unearthed accurate insights to create a better festival experience.
Rocking the Daisies is a South African music festival that takes place every October in Darling in the Western Cape. For festival organizers, measuring the success of the event is crucial to the planning process for the next one. They ask questions such as, How do we prove that the event is increasing in popularity? and How do we prove that this year’s festival is more successful than last year’s?
The problem is that measurement of sponsored events is challenging, as attendees are often unwilling to interrupt their experience to respond to research questionnaires, and research conducted after the experience loses its impetus and accuracy.
Enter BrandsEye, an online monitoring tool that captures organic conversations in real time across multiple online platforms, offered insight for both organizers and sponsors. BrandsEye also offered a range of metrics used to track festival performance.
For two consecutive years, event organizers used BrandsEye to track online conversation before, during and after the festival. As a result, they could understand the festival audience’s needs and preferences, garner insights in order to answer the most pressing questions around the festival’s success, identify new commercial opportunities, and assist in assessing ROI for sponsors.
For a festival this large, online conversation across social media, blogs, forums, press, and various other platforms begins six months (or more) before the event. For the 2012 festival, BrandsEye began its tracking around May, and slowly watched the volumes of online conversation increase as the festival approached.
All data collected during the period was processed and displayed on BrandsEye’s customized measurement dashboards, which automatically updated in real time. Additionally, users could apply filters to explore the data and mine them for insights.
This table outlines some of the metrics used to measure the Rocking the Daisies festival.
|Rocking the Daisies Market Research|
|Volume of conversation||7,748||14,979|
|Opportunities to see||8,412,530||14,602,550|
|Advert value equivalent*||1,949,024||3,397,916|
|* The amount which would be spent on online advertising for the same exposure.|
Understanding your market is the foundation of every marketing activity, online or off. If you don’t know who you’re speaking to, or what your audience cares about, it’s unlikely that your message will resonate with them.
Market research will define the content you create in your content marketing strategy, which naturally affects channels like email marketing, web writing, SEO and online advertising. It helps you find your audiences on social channels by indicating where they spend most of their time, and how they like interacting with your brand. It also helps you meet their needs by defining the touchpoints they expect from your brand, especially when it comes to creating web and mobile channels.
The more data you can gather about your audience, the better you will be able to optimize and improve your marketing efforts: market research is an excellent supplement to the quantitative data you can gather through data analytics.
Market research means gathering and analyzing data in order to gain consumer insights, understand a market and make business decisions. Information can be gathered about customers, competitors and the market.
Research can be conducted based on secondary data, which refers to information or data that is already published, or based on primary data, which is data gathered specifically for a particular research problem.
Research can also be qualitative or quantitative. The internet provides the tools for gathering qualitative data, while online tools such as surveys and web analytics packages are ideal for gathering quantitative data.
University of Texas at Austin. (2011). Assess teaching: Response rates. Retrieved from http://www.utexas.edu/academic/ctl/assessment/iar/teaching/gather/method/survey-Response.php
Chapter 3: Market Research from eMarketing: The Essential Guide to Marketing in a Digital World, 5th Edition by Rob Stokes and the Minds of Quirk is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. © 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 Quirk Education Pty (Ltd). UMUC has modified this work and it is available under the original license.