You should know by now that online market research is an integral part of any business organization that seeks commercial opportunities to grow its turnover. Hooking into the true voice of the customer to directly target their needs is crucial in increasingly competitive markets. In this post I’ll delve into what market research firms and surveys are able to do for your firm.
According to the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA), marketing research involves discovering a niche market and going the whole hog to ensure satisfied clients through the use of effective sales and marketing campaigns.
The standard process is that market research companies prepare professional market research surveys which provide the necessary market intelligence to encourage business success, enhance business competition and maximize their profits. If you have an in-house marketing team then this is key in your understanding of how to market a new product.
In recent years, business research has been completely revolutionized by online research resulting in the provision of challenges and opportunities to both the research users and researchers. This means that surveys are now just as applicable in small business Internet marketing programs as they are in larger enterprises.
The Web Has Certainly Helped Market Research in Many Ways
The tremendous growth of internet technology over the past few decades has enabled business researchers to offer their clients ultra fast and pocket friendly methods of reaching their target clients.
According to the US Census Bureau, business owners paid out a staggering amount of $4 billion dollars back in 2004 for online advertising, Search Engine Optimization services and marketing. This figure is set to hit the $12 billion mark by early 2013.
So its safe to say that Internet market research is growing at an impressive rate with social media marketing services being one of the ‘must-have’ capabilities for developing brands (or so the consultants in these firms would have you believe). The passing of every year sees the use of new research methodologies and the establishment of specialized online marketing agencies.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) insist that internet opportunities are still vastly unexplored and that it has the potential of achieving much more. Clearly a lot more research (and trial & error in marketing techniques) is required to get a clear picture of how to provide excellent customer service, sales & marketing in e-commerce situations.
Where Online Market Research Surveys Pay Off Big Time
You’ll find that a market research survey commissioned online has several advantages:
- They have the ability to research on many respondents at a go.
- They are not restricted by international boundaries. As a matter of fact, your global market research can be carried out the touch of button.
- It is pretty inexpensive for you even when undertaking huge research projects. A few thousand dollars can be used to generate thousands of potential clients’ responses.
- Professional market research firms have pre-screened panels which provide you with a respondent base that allows the easier access and prompt response of the research questionnaires by respondents.
- Online market surveys allow you rapid turnarounds. Once the research has been undertaken, the market research reports or results are received after a short while. Currently, top notch market research firms guarantee same day results delivery.
Any business that desires to have an authoritative general view of their target markets should consider carrying out an online market research.
But Your Surveys Still Need to Play by the Rules – Planning is Still Key
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), organizations are required to follow the following three considerations which are vital towards a successful market research campaign.
- You should come up with a detailed brief for the researcher. This ensures that both parties understand the key objectives of carrying out the research which avoids disappointment and confusion later on.
- Zero in on the critical issues to you & your firm. What is more important to your organization, getting quick results of gaining an in depth view of your target market? Prioritize the two.
- Ensure that the researcher carrying out your research is able to effectively carry out the task through the use of approved techniques and resources. There have been concerns from some quarters about the possibility of deception (or gaming) from respondents and the market research companies. However, this risk has been eliminated by the use of the pre-screened access panels. These panels allow the research agencies to access a more representative audience.
So Where Do Offline Market Research Surveys Fit into Modern Marketing?
Offline research methods that were used prior to the coming of online research still play a crucial role in the world of business research. Some die-hards caution against the substitution of these methods with the online approach due to the following reasons:
- DIY surveys have been found to compromise impartial interpretation and questioning objectivity. These survey types involve the direct questioning of a respondent by the client without the use of a researcher intermediary.
- The internet despite its versatility is still a rather limited arena for sourcing a sample that can be said to be truly representative. Online research targets internet users and specifically those who are ready to answer the questionnaires provided by the researching firm. This makes for a very small percentage especially in nations classified as third world where internet penetration levels are still very low.
- Internet research has grown dramatically to field a formidable growth potential. This rapid growth of the industry has not been commensurate with the putting up of structures and laws aimed at guiding online research practice.
The above shortcomings are not intended to undermine the invaluable role that internet research continues to play in the modern business environment, which can only be described as dynamic and fast paced. Your strategic planning models need to factor in quality/validity checks no matter which type of surveys you are performing.
It is therefore important that your online market research be carried out with the same degree of commitment and responsibility accorded to offline market research endeavors.
In conclusion: Anyone keen on learning how to do market research will have to learn the latest research techniques used in market surveys, learn how to maximize the response rates of the survey and also how to come up with an excellent survey questionnaire. You would also have to learn how to combine the two methods of offline research, that is, qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as online research to come up with a winning formula.