Social Media Marketing. A Practitioner Guide.

This is the third excerpt from the second edition of our book on “Social Media Marketing” by Philip Kotler, Svend Hollensen and me which is globally available via Amazon (#socialmedia; #socialmediamarketing; #marketing)

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This second updated and extended edition of ‘Social Media Marketing’ guides through the maze of communities, platforms, and social media tools so that markers can decide which ones to use, and how to use them most effectively.

2. Digital Marketing Research

2.1 Introduction to Marketing Research

The term market research refers to gathering, analyzing and presenting information that is related to a well-defined problem. Hence the focus of market research is a specific problem or project with a beginning and an end.

Market research differs from a decision support system (DSS), which is information gathered and analyzed on a continual basis. In practice, market research and DSS are often hard to differentiate, so they will be used interchangeably in this context.

Marketers have the idea that different customers should be treated differently to maximize the relationship with the best ones and minimize the involvement with the worst ones. Information technology helps to realize that desire. The reality comes at a cost, however, as relationship marketing presents a new set of challenges both to marketers and information systems managers. To succeed, an effective cross-functional team of information systems and marketing specialists must work harmoniously. In the past, the two groups barely understood or tolerated each other. On a positive note, a new breed of cross-disciplinary executives exists. They understand both marketing and technology. Overall, the most successful implementation will require true collaboration (Crie Micheaux, 2006; Hollensen and Opresnik, 2015).

To be useful to organizations, knowledge tools must be accessible to mainstream users. They must be understandable and useful to marketing managers, not just statistical experts and information systems managers. To overcome potential problems in applicability, marketers must insist that several key goals be achieved. They include:

2.2 Online (Internet) Research Methods

Although the Internet is still confined to the boundaries of the personal computer screen this will soon be a thing of the past; it is now clear that the Internet is definitely going to be a medium for the masses. Many researchers are amazed at how efficiently surveys can be conducted, tabulated and analyzed on the Web. Additionally, online data collection lets marketers use complex study designs once considered either too expensive or too cumbersome to execute via traditional means. While initial forays were fraught with technical difficulties and methodological hurdles recent developments have begun to expose the medium’s immense potential.

The earliest online tools offered little more than the ability to deploy paper-based questionnaires to Internet users. Today, however, online tools and services are available with a wide range of features at a wide range of prices.

For the international market researcher, the major advantages and disadvantages of online surveys are the following (Grossnickle and Raskin, 2001).

Advantages of online surveys

Disadvantages of online surveys

Response rates to e-mail questionnaires vary according to the study context. Various factors have been found to inhibit response to e-mail or Internet data collection. These factors include poor design of e-mail questionnaires, lack of anonymity and completion incentives. By addressing these factors in the context of specific research objectives it may provide a way to tackle non-response to e-mail questionnaires. Incentives should be used to encourage response rates, especially if the e-mail questionnaires are lengthy. Potential respondents are likely to trade off their anonymity if incentives are used. The researcher can easily negotiate completion incentives if the sampling frame derives from a company’s database (Michaelidou and Dibb, 2006).

Online Quantitative Market Research (E-mail and Web-based Surveys)

Online surveys can be conducted through e-mail or they can be posted on the Web and the URL provided (a password is optional depending on the nature of the research) to the respondents who have already been approached. When a wide audience is targeted the survey can be designed as a pop-up survey, which would appear as a Web-based questionnaire in a browser window while users are browsing the respective websites. Such a Web-based survey is appropriate for a wide audience, where all the visitors to certain websites have an equal chance to enter the survey.

However, the researcher’s control over respondents entering the Web-based surveys is lower than for e-mail surveys. One advantage of Web-based surveys is the better display of the questionnaire, whereas e-mail software still suffers from certain limitations in terms of design tools and offering interactive and clear presentation. However, these two modes of survey may be mixed, combining the advantages of each (Ilieva et al., 2002).

Online Qualitative Market Research

There are many interesting opportunities to conduct international qualitative market research quickly and at relatively low cost, without too much travelling involved (Hollensen and Opresnik, 2015):

One of the limitations with, for example, online focus groups is that they seem to generate less interaction between members than the face-to-face groups. Discussions between respondents occur, but they are less clear and coherent.

2.3 Marketing Research Based on Web 2.0

Today, maybe 80 percent of international marketers’ need for international marketing data are addressed by conducting a market-research project.

In future, the leading edge MNEs —probably led by consumer packaged goods and technologically driven companies —will look for answers to 80 percent of their marketing issues by ‘catching’ already available data.

Some of the data sources and tools available through the Web 2.0 will include the following (Hollensen and Opresnik, 2015):

Prof. Dr. Marc Oliver Opresnik

Chief Research Officer Kotler Impact, Inc.

Chief Executive Officer Kotler Business Program

Kotler Impact Inc.