Is there demand for my product or service? Are my customers satisfied with our service? How can I generate more sales volume from my existing customers? How can I improve the quality of my product or service? If there is something that you would like to know about your business and industry, marketing research is the way to start researching for some answers. Marketing research comprises one of the most important and fascinating facets of marketing. We are going to focus on sharing some Internet resources that can help you to conduct online marketing research. “Marketing research is defined as the systematic and objective identification, collection, analysis, dissemination, and use of information for the purpose of assisting management in decision making related to the identification and solution of problems (and opportunities) in marketing.”(Malhotra, 2004)
There are many ways in which the Internet can be useful to marketing researchers. It can be used as a source of marketing research providers, a source of secondary data, a source for marketing research software, and a source for data gathering via focus groups, surveys, etc.”(Malhotra, 2004)
Why do Market Research?
– It helps to understand current industry and market trends.
– Provides information about target customers.
– Identifies market and sales potential.
– Keeps researchers objectives.
– Becomes a framework for creating a marketing strategy.
– Helps business owners to examine customer satisfaction.
– Gives a close look at their competitors strengths and weaknesses.
– Helps marketing managers create benchmarks for future improvement.
There is perhaps no single best way to search the Web, but we recommend the following steps:
1. Pre-Searching Analysis: Think about the topic or subject you want to explore on the Web. Ask yourself some of the following questions, what unique keywords are associated with the topic or subject? Are there any organizations or associations that might have information on the subject through their web sites?
In order to identify trends for your topic or subject, you are going to have to put together a key word set to run in the search engines.
2. Run your key word set in any of the search engines.
Recommended Search Engines
– Google: http://www.google.com
– Yahoo: http://www.yahoo.com
– MSN: http://www.msn.com
– Ask: http://www.ask.com
For example, let’s supposed that you are searching for a Hispanic Business Directory where you can promote your business. “Hispanic Business Directory” is your key word set. You are going to open any of the search engines available in the market to find what you are researching for. Use the following variations to get better results:
“Hispanic Business Directory” – Specific search for what you are researching for.
“Hispanic Business Directory*” – Add the star symbol to research for every variation of the word.
“Hispanic Small Business Directory” – You can be as specific as you need to.
“Hispanic Business Directory*” and result* – Helps to find case studies if there are available in your topic or subject.
Recommended Keyword Search Tools
3. Learn as you go and be open to vary your approach with everything that you are learning from your earlier findings. Follow leads that can take to what exactly you are researching for. If you need official data, we recommend you to visit the official web site of the USA government.
Visit http://www.firstgov.gov. This USA official site provides a gateway to all government sites. You can also visit the official sites for your county or city. They provide very relevant information, especially when you are trying to find demographic data.
4. Usually, the most relevant information is within the first three to five pages of Google or any of the other Search Engines. If you can’t find anything interesting within the first 3-5 pages of results, you need to improve the quality of your key word set in order to get more relevant results.
The following are a list of Online tools that you can use during your online marketing research:
On-line Market Research Sites, Services and Tools
– Questionpro: Offers survey great design templates and hosting, visit http://www.questionpro.com.
– Zoomerang: A great site to develop your own online survey, http://www.zoomerang.com.
– Vovici: Create professional-quality surveys with a comprehensive, wizard-driven process, http://www.vovici.com.
– Surveybuilder: Customizes online surveys and respondent retrieval, http://www.surveybuilder.com.
– Surveysystem: Sells the research tools or will host your online survey, http://www.surveysystem.com.
– Add-A-Form: Create a survey form or use an existing form, http://www.addaform.com.
– Quantcast: It’s a new media measurement service that enables advertisers to view audience reports for millions of sites and services to build their brands with confidence, http://www.quantcast.com.
– Busreslab: Online employee and customer satisfaction surveys, http://www.busreslab.com.
– Frost and Sullivan: Excellent industry specific market research reports, http://www.frost.com.
– GuideStar Research: Freebees and assistance with online surveys, http://www.guidestarco.com.
– ResearchInfo: Great source of information for market researchers, http://www.researchinfo.com.
Email list sources
– Emailresults: Permission based email providers, http://www.emailresults.com.
– L-I-S-T: L.I.S.T. Inc. is a leading provider of B2B email lists, B2B mailing lists and B2B telemarketing lists, http://www.l-i-s-t.com.
If you need help from experts in the topic, we recommend you to visit:
Marketing Research Associations Online
AAPOR: American Association for Public Opinion Research (www.aapor.org)
AMA: American Marketing Association (www.marketingpower.com)
ARF: The Advertising Research Foundation (www.arfsite.org)
CASRO: The Council of American Survey Research Organizations (www.casro.org)
MRA: Marketing Research Association (www.mra-net.org)
QRCA: Qualitative Research Consultants Association (www.qrca.org)
RIC: Research Industry Coalition (www.researchindustry.org)
CMOR: Council for Marketing and Opinion Research (www.cmor.org)
Developing your Internet research skills is one of the skills that a lot of business owners should develop due to the important role that plays to understand your competitors and the market in general.
I hope you find some of these information useful.
Cheers to your success,