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Online market research

Everyone knows about SurveyMonkey and Web analytics programs, but I heard about something new (at least to me) last week—online market research. I attended an AMA Webcast on Community Marketing on March 29 where one of the topics was how to attract online customer panels that provide high quality market research.


I’ve seen lots of focus groups before, but the market research is shallow—customers sit there for a couple of hours and react to some product concepts. I’ve also used customer panels, where you meet regularly with the same group of customers over a period of time, but getting the customers together is very expensive.
Online customer panels seems like a great new way to get some of the benefits of focus groups and customer panels without a lot of the drawbacks. Panels can be long-term, so you can get very deep research. Customers can interact with each other, as in a focus group. It costs very little, compared to other methods.
Del Monte Foods operates the “I love my dog” site to gain deeper consumer understanding and to generate new ideas. Customers can register to participate and must sign in to get access to the site. Del Monte tries out their own ideas on the panel, but also solicits customer ideas for new products or improvements to existing products. They also conduct research on unmet needs and how customers care for their pets.
One question is whether competitors might register, pretending to be a pet owner, and get access to the market research that Del Monte is paying for. Gala Amoroso, Del Monte’s Senior Market Research Manager says, “Competitors can lurk, but they give themselves away with too many questions.” She also noted that sometimes Del Monte takes valuable conversations offline to keep insights private.
Regardless of any problems, this seems like something worth checking into for some marketers. Some agencies already have online panels that they can provide access to, but it looks like large companies, such as Del Monte, are growing their own. Everything else is going online, so why not market research?

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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