person Gordon Smith access_time October 2, 2019
How Much Depth Can You Get From Online Market Research?

As marketing and PR pros, we always need answers and, more often than not, we need them fast. Whether it’s the board wanting to know the results of a campaign, or a client wanting to get some profile-raising coverage for their brand, there are times when a slow turnaround just won’t cut it.

This is where online research can help. Not only is this a fast-growing industry – with an expected 11.25% CAGR growth by 2022 – but it’s also quick, agile and gives you just as much insight as a traditional survey. We look at how this approach can help you.

Reputable online surveys

Just like traditional research, an online survey does not mean it can be done by any website offering this service. All reputable survey houses adhere to Market Research Society (MRS) or ESOMAR guidelines, and this is exactly the same with web-based research.

Whatever type of survey you are looking to do, it still needs to give you the best and most valid results. A good research house should offer guidance on how to get the best out of your survey. This gives you better ROI than a faceless, automated online survey or traditional omnibus.

The beauty of online research is that you can change tack, approach or hit the pause button at any time.

Ultimately, a good survey, no matter how it’s done, needs to be statistically valid and able to withstand close scrutiny. Even if it’s a ‘quick and dirty’ PR survey, there still needs to be a methodology and reputable sample base.

Sampling

For a more targeted sample, like, for example, men aged 25 – 34 who live in the north of England, again, both traditional and online research should be able to provide this sample, quickly and easily. Either way, both should be able to offer you the right and accurate sample for your survey.

If you’re looking for a really targeted sample, such as women aged 20 who live in Hampshire and only buy a certain brand of cat food, then, for any survey, this will incur additional cost as it is so niche. A good research house, on or offline, will probably recommend this take the form of a focus group / depth interviews as opposed to a full-on survey.

Where online research comes into its own though is speed. An online survey has a sample base that’s ready to go, which means it can be carried out in real time and at anytime. This is particularly valuable if you’re responding to a new trend, popular TV show or political issue.

Not only that, but due to the immediacy of online surveys, you can get full results within minutes or hours, instead of days / weeks or even months. A turnaround as quick as that certainly takes the pressure off when the board or clients want quick results!

Guy Potter at Maru/Usurv says:

“The speed at which data is now generated has been transformative. It means that any change or drop in numbers can be addressed and rectified quickly at the speed of modern business and little cost.”

Budgets

As we’re all aware, the days of bottomless marketing and PR budgets are long gone, which means spend has to be managed carefully. With so many marketing channels these days, it’s no mean feat!

It’s inevitable that at some point during your marketing or financial year you will need to commission research. Whether that’s in the form of a performance or brand awareness/feedback report or to gather data for PR, social or advertising, it’s certain budget will need to be set aside for this.

With agile research, you are in full control of your spend as you can decide on the type of survey you want to suit your budget. If you want to set-up a survey immediately, you can use ready-made surveys to help save you the additional cost of creating a new template and inputting questions from scratch.

You can also control sample size, as well as add or remove questions, to exactly meet your budget. If you feel you need more help with questions or simply want a sanity check, then a good research house will support you and will always check the questions prior to the survey going live.

The results

Just like traditional research, all online surveys provide a full report to help you process your data. Demographic splits, age, income bracket and geographical breakdown are all provided to help you interpret the results.

Results should also be provided in graph and data format to help you easily analyse the results. Some people are more visual and others more numerically led, so a good survey report should provide these choices to help you get the best from your survey.

As you can see, there is little difference between online and traditional research. There was a time when web-based surveys were seen as less ‘reputable’ than traditional, phone-based or CATI research, but this is no longer the case.

This is because online surveys are just as reliable as traditional surveys; its increasing growth and popularity is most certainly testament to this.