Work Smarter: New Opportunities With Internet Market Research
The most integral part of any marketing initiative is market research. Comprehensive market research identifies the wants and needs of your potential target market, but also provides information that creates strategic and informative business decisions to target your most profitable market.
Market Research Collection
Where does this information come from? What are the most common means of conducting market research? Focus groups and questionnaires are two well-established methodologies. Both have the ability to record and examine quantitative and qualitative factors such as verbal and visual information. However, are they fully reliable as untainted sources of marketing information? There are a number of factors which may blemish these research results:
* Focus Groups: Participants may alter their own answers to mimic the responses by other participants, or they may be inadvertently influenced by focus group moderators.
* Questionnaires: Survey questions, formatting, & content may influence participants to select one answer over another. Distractions while completing the survey may also produce biased information.
In contrast to these two traditional research methods, a relatively new form of conducting marketing research exists, gathering information online and serving up timely, accurate, and - most importantly - unbiased data, directly from your target market. Sound too good to be true? Not at all.
Internet Market Research Collection
The Internet has opened the door and reset the bar for market research. Sometimes still (erroneously) classified as a new marketing medium, the Internet is growing at the astonishing rate of 60,000 new web sites per day! Virtually all markets and languages show continuous activity and growth. Gathered within this environment of high speeds, low costs, and near perfect anonymity, Internet market research is proving to be increasingly viable and insightful when conducted independently, or as a valuable complement when integrated with more traditional marketing research methodologies.
Roughly 450 million online searches occur each day (JupiterResearch, 2005). Search engines like Yahoo!, AOL, MSN, Ask Jeeves, and the ubiquitous Google capture and record the exact phrases that searchers are using to find a specific product or service. Search engine users, typing unprompted words and phrases into empty search engine fields, are impartial and uninfluenced when conducting their searches.
Consequently, the information gathered and leveraged from this medium is invaluable from a marketing research perspective. Imagine gathering impartial information from literally millions of people - each day - and basing your marketing campaigns on this data. In most cases, it is used for search engine optimization (SEO), to enhance the effectiveness of a web site for certain keywords and phrases highly searched for online. However, as the power of this marketing research is increasingly being discovered and recognized, it is also being used to power a wide range of offline activities.
So What, You Ask?
Well, considering that online research drives 70 percent or more of offline purchases (iMedia, 2004), it's undeniable that having a highly visible and functional web presence is vital. An optimized web site ensures that it is ranked high in the search engines for particular search phrases.
Ranking highly in search results is extremely effective in ensuring that potential customers will find you at the most opportune time within the buying cycle - when they are ready to learn, compare, and of course, buy! This is critical to any organization with an online presence.
How else can better research and SEO help your business? It can increase lead generation, reduce operational costs, increase customer loyalty, improve partner or channel development, and offer extensive market analysis.
Lesser Known Uses Of Internet Market Research
Let's take a look at offline marketing activities as well. Not only can online research be used for web site development, but it can also be a great benefit for many areas used within integrated marketing communication (IMC) elements such as advertising, PR, interactive communication activities, and numerous other business functions. Here are just a few examples:
* Branding: Increase your profile and brand awareness. Sixty percent of searchers' brand opinions were changed or enhanced as a result of online research (American Interactive Consumer Survey, 2004). SEO market research can be used to correctly understand the behavior of your target market. By using keyword research that reflects your brand positioning, you can both enhance your brand and increase your chances of getting found by web searchers.
* Competitive Analysis: Discover your market position. Market research can determine how your company and products measure alongside your industry competitors.
* New Opportunities: Satisfy your potential customers. Research can provide insight into new market opportunities you may never have discovered. As well, research can identify new business ventures, and offer the possibility to streamline your business processes.
* Public Relations: Be research ready. A press release can benefit from market research by ensuring that the appropriate content and language is used, allowing your target market to find it quickly and easily. With 98 percent of journalists performing research online (PR Web, 2005), take advantage of this opportunity, and have an online press release optimized with extensive market research.
* Investor Relations: Strengthen your business. You can build rapport with current and potential investors, and supplement marketing and strategic direction using information identified within Internet marketing research reports.
Applying Internet Market Research
The ultimate goal is to make the research work for you. While Internet market research is an integral step in improving your visibility online, its quality and flexibility of use allow it to be effortlessly applied to all aspects of marketing activities. Consider how doing better internet marketing research could work for you.
About the Author: This article has been provided by Epiar Inc. Author Ken Jurina (email@example.com) is President of Epiar Inc., Canada's premiere search engine optimization company based in Edmonton, Alberta. For more information, please visit http://www.epiar.com