Online market research has the same goals as traditional market research, i.e. to gather information about a target audience, product or market. In today’s environment, online research is preferred more than traditional research because of its speed and high performance.
Traditional market research is a tedious, expensive, and complex process, involving a lot of manual work. Usage of internet in market research gives relief, getting rid of the limitations like the excessive cost of research and heavy workloads.
So, how is online research exactly conducted? Let us look at some of the methods of online market research.
Online Primary Market Research
Primary research refers to the collection of original data through first hand sources, like the following.
1. Instant communities:
Instant communities like chat forums relating to your product/service can provide you with valuable feedback for market research. Using these communities for primary research is a good idea, since they provide very fast feedback, thereby minimising the time required for research.
2. Online polls and surveys:
Information can be gathered from polls and surveys. Normally, it is reliable and effective and considers all the aspects of market research. With the help of online surveys, you can collect specific research required for your marketing campaign.
3. Social media:
Popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are very useful as online market research channels. Through these sites, enterprises can get useful information about their products/services within a short period. You can also focus on a few social groups, like Twitter or Google+ to achieve more quality results.
4. Online observation:
Market researchers basically examine the reaction of users about products or services via online observation. The behaviour is analysed by logfile analysis, cookies or clickstream analysis.
Secondary Online Research
Secondary research is not built on its own data. It depends on pre-existing data on the internet, for example: search engines, databases or information sites. Examples of popular secondary online research methods are:
1. Keyword research:
An easy, fast and free way to get a feel of your business or product demand is the Google Keyword Planner. It tells you what consumers are searching for all over the world. It really helps you visualise how many people are searching for your business or product idea during any time period.
This tool will also provide you with various related keywords which can help you generate ideas regarding which words to use in your product name, descriptions, blog posts or the website as a whole.
If no one is looking for your product, then that’s not a good sign. On the other hand, if there are thousands of searches for keywords related to your product, then you’re in stiff competition.
Keyword research can show you how prospective customers look for a product/service on the internet.
2. Public records:
There are several websites which offer quantitative data. For example, you can get access to free demographic data from government sites. Information from public records can give businesses a promising idea on what direction to take in online market research.
Reading the blogs of key opinion leaders is also an amazing way to evaluate how the target audience will respond to the products/services. Blogs come with lots of customer feedback, active participants, and current content, making it a good research option.
4. Google Trends:
Another smart tool by Google which can be used for online research is Google Trends. You can search for a product or business idea, and then view the search demand for that keyword throughout the past few years.
You can also compare search volume between a few terms, geographic locales and even view how particular events affect search popularity.
Whether you choose primary or secondary online market research, both will give you timely and effective feedback on how your target market feels about your products/services. When compared with traditional market research, online research is much less expensive and will give you high-quality information within a short timeframe.