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 Along with valid results, a considerable percentage of the data found in the web pages is outdated. Data published on Internet can become outdated very quickly due to the pace of change within in industry. Most of the information will be outdated and useless in no time.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.
The marketing activity is changing more dynamically than ever due to the economic realignment in the recent times. The vital part of any marketing initiative is market research. Comprehensive market research provides insights to marketers on target markets and customer segments. It provides information that facilitates strategic and informative business decisions to target the most profitable market.
The label ‘desk research’ is more appropriate to online secondary research, as a market researcher collects data to the most extent without moving from his desk from Web. With the change in business environment, the market research requirements became more demanding that made online desk research appropriate and viable to most of the businesses.
Variety of Sources
Internet has around 238 million websites as of June, 2009, according to Netcraft. These websites represents many kinds of sources such as competitor companies, trade bodies, research organizations, industry experts etc. They give the required diversity of the resources to market research to evaluate the data from various angles and perceptions.
Internet provides the latest insights into an issue from various sources instantly. The researcher doesn’t have to wait for the data to be physically published and shipped to him. Latest information is available online and is accessible from any corner of the world within no time.
Online desk research can provide a quick glance of the already existing information without much effort. In examining information like social, economic or demographic trends often, it is a better method than primary research. When a business needs to have a quick view of a market situation, online desk research is a better option rather than opting for traditional research.
Online desk research can be done efficiently with less cost than traditional research as it takes less time and effort of the researchers. One more advantage of online desk research is, businesses can outsource the research to specialists that saves more expenditure while maintaining the quality.
The revolution of information access on the Internet continues to affect both market and societal environments, which is very important for businesses to keep a tap on. The changing business scenarios stress more on this opportunity and should not be overlooked.
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.
Online desk research is a systematic examination of the available online sources and data in the context of a research objective. In many research assignments, initial desk research is strongly recommended before primary research to gain background knowledge of a subject as well as get useful leads that will help to get the maximum from a research budget.
Directs primary research
Online desk research directs primary research with a quick analysis of research focus and gives initial feedback with less effort. With this initial information, the researcher can clearly know which information is more important or less important, readily available or not available and can make changes to the direction of the primary research if necessary. Based on this, the research process can also be modified according to the requirements of the research.
Gauges the scope of the primary research
The researcher can have a panoramic and clear view of the primary research based on the information he got from the desk research. Researcher understands the required information, and which information to through more light upon, and what is not needed i.e. enough information is readily available from a reliable source. Based on this researcher can suggest changes to the scope of the research.
Reduces cost and time span of primary research
Online desk research identifies the topics of primary research, where enough information is readily available and avoids duplication of work. If enough information is readily available online from a reliable primary research resource, then it helps to fasten on that specific topic in the research. This saves a considerable amount of resources like research cost and time that can be refocused on the necessary areas of research and get high quality results.
If a primary research needs to find the population census, seldom people will start with a population survey; instead they get demographic information from www.census.org, which is reliable secondary resource. Therefore, even pure primary research needs some help from secondary data, otherwise the research topic is completely new and innovative. A good researcher knows how to use both primary and online desk research to integrate various information sources into a comprehensible and reliable market picture. This combination is effective in giving out reliable output that can be used to make good decisions.
The information collected and leveraged from Internet is invaluable from the marketing research point of view. Imagine gathering impartial information from literally millions of sources each day and deciding the marketing campaigns on this data. Internet marketing research provides a better vision to the business, which helps in delivering better products and better results. There are many advantages of applying Internet to the marketing research.
- Market Know How
Online market research can give the comprehensive information about the various factors and aspects of the market such as market profile, trends, size, segmentation, competition, SWOT and demand prospects. This exclusive and extensive online marketing research report certainly gives a big picture of the market scenario.
- New Domains of Use
Not only online research can be used for the market intelligence, but it can also be put into great use for many areas such as advertising, public relations, and interactive communication activities. Internet marketing research is also useful in numerous other business functions such as Branding, Competitive analysis, Consumer Behavior and Customer Relationship Management and Investor Relationship Management.
- New Opportunities
Internet marketing research can provide insight into new market opportunities that may be never discovered. And also, research can identify new business ventures, and offer the possibility to streamline the existing business processes, which results in more efficient execution of the process. New business opportunities and ventures result in the competitive advantage in the market by delivering better products at less value.
- Competitive Advantage
Competitive advantage enables the firm to create superior value for its customers and superior profits for itself. There are many areas of competitive advantages including the firm’s cost structure, product offerings, marketing research, distribution network and customer support. Internet marketing research allows to gain advantage from the competitors by delivering accurate results at affordable costs.
The main task after getting the market research report is to implement the findings. The ultimate goal of the report is to make the research work for the enhancement of the business. While Internet market research is an integral step in improving the visibility online, its quality and flexibility of use allow it to be effortlessly applied to all aspects of marketing activities.
Information abundance is not about digitalization and copying but is about the perception, analysis, comparison, exchange, reuse and evaluation of facts. Prior to Internet, information is collected through different sources like books, newspapers etc. The curiosity to know the things happening around world is satisfied with Internet.
Information availability prior to Internet:
Information available for us before Internet is scattered in different sources like books, newspapers, encyclopedias, magazines, museums and libraries. Collection of required data or searching for data used to take lot of time. For example, prior to Internet, information about any medical treatment for any disease was a time consuming process. People used to refer different books in libraries and other sources for days together to get the necessary information. But with Internet, any information is available within minutes.
Changes brought by Internet:
The advent of the Internet has been one of the most exciting major events in the second half of the 20th century. Information is shared among all humans with the help of Internet. A big advantage of Internet is the availability of information with quick accessibility than ever before. One can access information in a book that is available in a library, in the other part of the world with just a click of mouse. Unlike the books in the libraries, information online is constantly reviewed and updated frequently.
Internet became a public domain in the 1980’s. From then availability of information was permanently revolutionized and grown tremendously. Information era has changed the lives of all humans either directly or indirectly. Information on almost every topic is obtained at high speed and more easily available than ever before. This new level of information availability and accessibility is influencing the dynamics of the global markets as well as personal lives. Remarkably, information is not only accessible to all but can be created by and distributed to almost everybody.
Everyone can enjoy the unmatched prosperity of global information resources by connecting to the Internet. The advent of the Internet has increased the efficiency of the information availability. With this, significant increase in level of information endowment in a variety of fields is observed.