Digital Marketing Research

Marketing research trends closely follow consumer trends. In 2014 use of smart phones and tablets surpassed use of computers as our digital gateway to connect with each other and to the world around us. Today, one short year later, Global Web Index reports 80% of Internet users own a smart phone and 34% use emerging devices such as Smart TV to search the Internet. ComScore reports more than half of consumers are “multi-screening” accessing retail sites via PC, mobile and tablet. And Nielsen reports 89% of time spent on media is through mobile apps, not through the mobile web.

Similarly, in the field of marketing research, use of online resources and mobile devices is exploding. It is a dynamic way to intimately connect with consumers and understand their emotional and rational responses to products and services. The privacy of digital platforms accommodates anonymity and encourages participation, such as with a discussion of hygiene habits, STDs or HIV. And the expense of digital marketing research is often less than the cost of research conducted by phone or in-person.


Mobilization of qualitative and quantitative research in a multi-screen environment is hot because marketing researchers are reaching consumers where they live, work and play to understand their lives, attitudes, and behaviors. For instance, online consumer panels can be accessed from anywhere at any time using a computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone. Digital ethnography is supported by mobile platforms where researchers can “live with” respondents virtually. In essence, research is going to the consumer rather than the consumer coming to the research.

Digital marketing research can be collaborative where respondents co-create and innovate with product idea boards, chat spaces and pin boards. The intuitive nature of online research platforms means few barriers to use from the researcher and respondent perspective.

Digital marketing research can also be expressive, personal, emotional and immersive through storytelling, collaging, journaling and through the use of text, images and video.

The speed at which both B2C and B2B qualitative and quantitative projects can be recruited and fielded is increasing thanks to a readily available online respondent pool so large that it is representative of a population under study. This means rather than weeks, it takes only days to get a study out of field.

Targeted recruitment via panels is becoming increasingly refined so that respondents can be screened not only by demographic attributes but also by behaviors or psychographic attributes.

Data management tools are more robust and user friendly than ever. Instant access to transcripts, poll data and even text analysis of keywords and phrases are becoming commonplace.

Mark-up technology allows respondents to review images or video and virtually mark up and comment on any elements of the visual. Marketers can then see what elements of a communication are appealing or not, and the reasons why.

Gamification is the use of game design in non-gaming contexts. Marketing research is borrowing gaming techniques, such as awarding badges or points to motivate people to do something. Intrinsic motivation in a panel community is amplified through gamification. A brand can benefit from having a few hundred users who are motivated to generate content or provide input over the long-term through the use of gamification techniques. Another way gamification is employed is through animated and entertaining survey questions from which insights can be extracted that might not otherwise be from asking a question. And insights come from observing participation where human behavior is channeled into structured rules. Reactions, problem solving, teamwork, values and other attributes can be documented.

Virtual environments present scenarios in context so that, for instance, respondents can virtually walk through a store or restaurant, view a shelf set, or pick up a packaged product and rotate it. The computer-simulated reality allows the researcher to systematically alter or vary elements in a cost-effective way. Responses to stimuli within the virtual environment can then be measured.

The wearable trend is anticipated to be a virtual game changer. Researchers can spend “a day in the life” of a consumer by employing use of wearables, such as GoPros, Google Glasses, the Apple Watch, and Fitbit type technologies.

Qualitative and quantitative digital marketing research methods continue to evolve and take advantage of advanced digital technology to target a greater reach of respondents anytime and anywhere, to target consumer attributes at a micro attribute level and to provide data quickly at increasingly lower costs.

Lori Enfield is an Account Director at Q2 Insights, Inc., a research and innovation consulting firm with offices in San Diego and New Orleans.  She can be reached at (760) 230-2950 ext.3 or at


This entry was posted in Trends and tagged on December 13, 2016 by Q2 Insights