Internet is referred to as the first technology that achieved a global scope. Now, there are zillions of web pages on Internet with lots of information, almost on anything. There are no restrictions to access general information on internet. The evolution of search engines has made the ease of accessing the information online at finger tips.
Internet and the Information age
The age before Information was called the Industrial age where people had to face scarcity of information and time lag to access the available information. Today, Internet has evolved to be a crucial medium in distributing and accessing the relevant information within no time. Internet is also the fastest growing media that has the capability to impact the social, technological, economical and political activities of people, all over the world. This can be compared with the Information revolution brought by the invention of printing press.
Accessibility of information at any time
In this information age, the competition among businesses has grown incredibly all around the world in all kind of industries. It is unaffordable for any competent business to succumb to information limitations, in order to sustain in the competitive environment. Control of the availability of the information is no longer confined to the few people. People are free to communicate, work and access information round the clock from anywhere in the world. It is through Internet that the communications have grown incredibly and leveraged outsourcing of services to such a big extent.
Information for decision making
For any Information-age organization, it is the information that is going to help to sustain the competition. The success of any organization in the information age relies with the speed and accuracy of gaining relevant information and making effective decisions based on it. No other medium is as effective or reliable as Internet for such purposes. There is a vast amount of information available on internet on any field, which can be collected, analyzed, and then used for effective decision making.
Indeed, the internet has become an indispensable tool in the part and parcel of people’s lives, as it gained influence in information distribution. The role of the internet as a useful, practical, and even essential, information tool by other forms of media is increasing and is a clear example of the information era powered by Internet.
The growth of the World Wide Web has been one of the major events in the second half of the 20th century. A big advantage of World Wide Web for businesses is the availability and quick access of information than ever before in the history of mankind. Businesses can access almost any kind of information from any corner of the globe just in few minutes that can aid decision-making. Information online has become a commodity available in many flavors.
Remarkably, there is an immense amount of information online that is not only accessible to all but can be created and shared by almost everybody. According to a claim by Google, there are around 8.1 billion documents online and are growing rapidly. A team of researchers from SIMS – University of California claims that the size of the information on the World Wide Web is 170 terabytes. Information of about 170 terabytes is equal to ten times of the information available in the Library of Congress. This new height of information availability and accessibility is influencing the dynamics of the global markets as well as regional businesses more or less equally.
Most of the data available online is in English as it is the most popular language online. More than 80% of home pages on the Web are in English, while the next greatest, German, has only 4.5% and Japanese 3.1%, according to englishenglish.com. Clearly, this means more information in English is available online than any other language.
The above statistics from various sources reiterates that the information available online is not only abundant but also growing rapidly at an exponential pace. This vast size of the information available never earlier in the history of mankind, sometimes becomes a challenge for the business researchers to find the reliable and credible information within it.
The major contributors of the information online that is useful for the businesses are market research companies, industry associations, related-industry web sites, competitor companies’ websites and government sources like www.bls.gov. Information from various sources from a variety of backgrounds can help online researchers to crosscheck and validate the data they are collecting for the research purpose. Information thus derived from the online secondary research is good enough to give insight into the research issue and help the businesses in well-informed decision making to the extent possible.
The increased efficiency of the information availability has significantly increased the level of information endowment on a variety of fields of marketing and business as a whole. The abundance of information available online that is instantly accessible at low or no cost has certainly created a great resource for secondary research for businesses.
The present era is being called as the Information age, where we have tremendous amounts of information available as never before in the history of the mankind. This was possible with the Internet, where immense information is available in the form of billions of web-pages and can be accessed at any instance provided that you have tools to access it. The Information available online has changed living and working styles of the people to a big extent.
Impact on People
The availability of information online has facilitated people with the ease of accessing the required information and utilize it for efficient living. People use information available online in a variety of formats like video, audio, presentations, text and images for wide variety of purpose like Shopping, Education, Health, etc.
If they want to know more about any historical incident instead of going to library for earlier copies of newspapers, they can accesses any kind of details with a click. People can access global news on any topic from international journals without subscribing it and being shipped to their homes. Information available online helps people in making efficient purchase decisions. People have latest Information online about new products, price comparisons, product reviews, and fashion trends.
There are many websites that provide information on anything, right at the instance. Websites, like Encyclopedia Britannica, Google maps, which provide reliable information, are very popular. People use this information to solve their problems, to improve their knowledge, to elucidate their doubts, etc. more efficiently and effortlessly.
Impact on Businesses
For businesses it is a more helpful to have vast amount information backing their way of doing business. They can accesses information from various sources and perspectives, which helps in judging the market situations more accurately. Businesses could access information, which was not available about their competitors and their moves. With the evaluation of the information online they could know the pulse of the customer.
Information available online became an essential ingredient for businesses in making crucial and successful decisions like designing marketing campaigns, launching new products, etc. They can access latest information from reliable sources at an instance which helps them take quicker and viable decisions. Using information available online also helps businesses improve their bottom line as it costs far less than traditional forms of marketing research.
The easier access of valuable information helped to be aware of many social issues in the world like global warming, AIDS, terrorism, etc. The vast amount of information available online has helped people and businesses to come out of information deficiency and information time lag implying they are well informed about anything that leads to overall betterment of the society.
Marketing research specifies the information required to address the vital issues in decision making, designs methods for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyzes and communicates the findings and their implications. In simple marketing research is about researching the whole company’s marketing process.
The Role of Internet in Marketing Research:
Internet became the part and parcel of the businesses to make and convey decisions. The decision-making is done based on the information generated by the marketing research. Increasingly Internet is becoming a major source for the market research. The reason is Internet contains vast resource of information available for market research.
- Access to Multiple Resources
Accessing information through the Internet is an efficient alternative to hours spent with traditional sources like libraries. The Internet connects businesses, academic institutions, trade associations, government agencies and private individuals. Using browsers, it is possible to access the sites or user groups who are linked through the Net.
- Information at Finger Tips
Any kind of information that is available in Internet is just a few clicks away. For marketing research, the Internet has two important sources of information. One is the websites, which represent companies, organizations and individuals to promote their products, services or communicate their views. The other source is user groups. The information given in the websites rather than the user groups is more reliable for a researcher. The companies and organizations generally give genuine information about their businesses in their official portals. The user groups can give some useful leads by giving key words and URLs.
- Exchange Information Globally in Less Time
Through Internet it is possible to send and receive information from far distant countries. You can send and receive market reports to and from China as easy as Canada. All this will happen in few minutes with less effort and cost. The effortless transmission of information across the boundaries made the job of the marketing research easier, to process both globalized and localized information for the marketing research.
It is undisputed to state that Internet has a vital role to play in the marketing research. The information base in Internet is expanding by the online versions of the other sources of information such as libraries, press, books etc. This will give a new exposure to the marketing research to become more effective and efficient in delivering better results.
The integral part of any marketing initiative is market research. Comprehensive market research identifies the wants and requirements of the potential target market. It provides information that helps to make operational business decisions. It is good to outsource Internet marketing research, as it is advantageous for businesses in many ways.
Features of Outsourcing Internet Marketing Research
- Specialized Expertise
The online marketing research firms offers specialist services to almost all kinds of businesses. Because major operational business decisions can be taken based upon the marketing research reports, it should be carried out by the research professionals. Professional online marketing research firms do have professionals with expertise in online search techniques. Online marketing research professionals are familiar with reliable data sources and with the techniques to the reliable information.
- Less Time
The professional marketing research firms operate according to a timetable and schedule. They will give timely updates and status reports to the client to make sure that the research project is going in the right direction. This will make the report delivered on time according to the client’s requirement. And also the in-house research reports may be delayed as all the resources may not be employed on the research project.
- Limited to Specific Businesses
Online research reports are limited to some specific business. It is well known that online research projects are entirely dependent on the information available on the Internet. That means, if the information about a particular industry or the topic is not available on the Internet, the objective of the research may not be fulfilled.
- Cost Effective
The main reason for the outsourcing is to get quality services in a cost effective manner. The research firms will have all the built-in infrastructure and resources to do the research project. As they are exclusively focused on the research they know how to reduce the cost of the project. At the same time by assigning the research project to a research firm, the company can reduce the operational costs and concentrate more on their core business.
- Unbiased Report
In some cases of in-house research, there is a chance of the report may be influenced by the internal environment of the company. At the same time the professional online marketing research firms can deliver the impartial research report with an objective perspective.
The research done by an external source will have credibility because it is done by a professional agency. However, to deliver a good online research project there should be good knowledge about the local market of the client. Globalization with the aid of the Internet is bridging this gap.
Desk research is also known as secondary research. Desk research is analyzing already existing information from various sources and creating research reports according to the business requirements. Online desk research leverages the Internet as the major information source. Various advantages of online desk research are as follows -
- Preliminary Assessment of Market
Desk research is a good option for a preliminary study of the markets. It can be used highly effectively to provide leads that help the decision makers to get more detailed analysis about the market situation.
- Competitive Intelligence
Competitive Intelligence is more than analyzing competitors. Having a clear picture of competitors both existing and potential is always crucial. Online desk research is a better option to evaluate some areas of the competitive intelligence. Internet has various sources like business websites, trade associations websites, research websites, government portals etc. These sources will help to get good information about the competitors.
- Market Trends
Identifying market trends is the basic requirement to run a business. Many databases of articles and reports can be accessed through the Internet. By using these databases online desk research produces both contemporary and historical framework of the market trends. These frameworks allow identifying new market trends and drawing parallels.
- Quick Reference
Desk research provides a quick reference to the already existing information without much effort. In examining information like social, economic or demographic trends it is a better option than the primary research.
- Leverage Published Data
Internet contains information from many sources like businesses, academic institutions, trade associations, government agencies etc. These resources are put into good use to get the desired results in online desk research. As a result online desk research becomes economical and takes less time to yield results.
- Aids Primary Research
Carrying out an initial desk research is strongly recommended to gain background knowledge to a subject. Though the desk research has a disadvntage of processing outdated data, this data can give cruicial leads for primary research. This approach has a potential that can add a new dimension to primary research.
Typically, secondary data accessed through desk research is initially generated through primary research. Online desk research can be very fruitful when it is viewed as preliminary guide to the market. It is a better option to carry out online desk research first and then filling the gaps through the primary techniques.