Online desk research involves systematic identification, collection, analysis and documentation of data in order to assist the businesses to identify and solve the problems in decision making. Online desk research can provide precise market information with statistics in a cost and time effective manner.
Online secondary research gathers data that already exists in the Internet from reliable sources. Some of these sources include internal sources of the business, government publications, websites of non-profit organizations such as industry bodies, freely accessible data on the Internet, some professional newspapers and magazines, and annual reports of companies filed with SEC. Though it looks all is fine, there are some limitations of online desk research.
Search engines return thousands of links when searched for any data. Along with valid results, a considerable percentage of the data found in the web pages is outdated. Data published on Internet can become outdated very quickly due to the pace of change within in industry. Most of the information will be outdated and useless in no time. The data collected through secondary research may not exactly tell current happenings but can be effectively used in time-series analysis i.e. to identify historical patterns and trend cycles to forecast the future developments.
Limited Useful Data:
One can spend hours searching for specific details as useful data on Internet is limited. Sometimes publishers are reluctant to give away the complete details freely online, so data availability is generally restricted and incomplete. In some occasions, all the required data may not be available from the same or one source. Data has to be carefully searched, identified and arranged to get the complete picture. Any missing piece of data has to be replaced with similar data from other qualified sources.
The overall quality of the market research is directly related to the accuracy of information sources used to collect data. There are many websites and blogs that provide information on the Internet, but a market researcher cannot consider them as reliable information sources as they generally provide incorrect information. A researcher first identifies reliable sources related to the topic, then analyzes and crosschecks the same data from various sources to validate its accuracy.
Though the information available on Internet is free of cost, it requires lot of effort, patience, extreme care and skill to dig out useful information. To overcome these limitations, the professional Internet market researchers use various Internet tools and search engine techniques that enable to find the qualified data and utilize it for research.
Internet has become a major source of information in marketing research. Online sources are used to collect data or cross validate the processed data from more than one source to check the consistency of the data. However, it has posed new challenges in the areas of data collection, interpretation and validation.
Drawbacks of Internet in Marketing Research:
Based on Netcraft’s data, Boutell estimates some 29.7 billion pages on the Web in February 2007. This giant source itself is a big challenge to find the available right information.
As already stated, Internet contains vast amounts of data which is relevant as well as irrelevant to the user’s requirement. The problem is not the volume of information but finding that tiny bit that is necessary in this enormous ocean is a big challenge. To overcome this challenge the researcher has to be well versed with all the tools and techniques that are necessary to filter the unnecessary information.
Internet houses information from all kinds of sources ranging from government portals to blogs. Though the information gathered is correct, it is necessary to make sure that the source is a valid one. The quality of the final marketing research report depends upon the quality of the information sources that are used to collect information.
Demands More Focus on Processing
As there is a large amount of data available, processing this data into reliable information is a major task in the marketing research. To interpret, categorize, arrange and document this information requires more focus and effort from the market researcher.
Challenge of SEO optimized websites
Internet is becoming a major tool of promotion for business. This lead to various consequences like emergence of junk websites and money making through search engines. This has posed as a challenge to the researchers to obtain relevant websites since many good sites do not appear on the top of search results because low quality sites are focusing on SEO to get them ahead.
Demands Different Mindset
To access the right information, Internet requires a different mindset i.e. more focused and conceptualized research is necessary. Earlier, the amount of data available is very less when compared to the requirement. But now, a huge amount of information is pouring in from all directions. The Internet age market researcher requires a different mindset to process the data using various tools and techniques.
However, to overcome these challenges the Internet market researchers have the search engine and Meta search engine techniques, which filter the information and give thousands of narrow results, which leads to the target information.