Sophistication of Market Research Rising

Data retrieved from effectively targeted market research can dictate the success or failure of a product or service. However, until recently, putting market research to work was an expensive proposition that entailed printing, distribution and analytical costs, and that’s just for starters.

Using online survey tools and electronic analysis, MarketTools hopes to change the public perception of market research.

“You have to have good knowledge to make effective decisions,” said John McCrea, vice president of worldwide marketing, MarketTools. “We have the technology and the platform to help all businesses gather relationship intelligence. In the past, market research was done by traditional means of canvassing an audience. This product makes collecting data faster, easier, cheaper and more interactive.”

The technology, zoomerang, allows users to create and customize surveys on topics such as customer satisfaction, event planning, new product design, new product testing and more. Feedback from the responses is also provided.

“The product opens up an enormous window of opportunity for people who, before now, were unable to afford this type of discipline,” said Claudine Singer, senior analyst at Jupiter Communications. “It is a tool that is well worth using. It enables people to become smarter about their customers.”

Arthur Heimbach, president of Heimbach Research, implemented an electronic survey on behalf of his client, K2 Ski Equipment.

“We wanted to find out how customers perceived the quality of their ski products,” he said. “The first thing we did was implement an online product registration from from which we captured email addresses. We then were able to construct a customer satisfaction survey as well as a rich perceptual brand. This gave us a very strong competitive advantage. Further, in the survey we asked respondents to list the magazines they read. We are now using the data to create an advertising campaign.

“The product allowed me to send a survey with a graphic flair that was not distracting,” he added. “Face it, pen and paper surveys are boring, but online surveys at present are a novelty. Today, we are in the info-tainment industry.”

The surveys can be accessed via a Web site or by an e-mail sent with a link. MarketTools’ offerings include zoomerang and zTelligence, which offers more sophisticated collection and analysis.

“It is a flexible total survey management tool that allows users to develop and deploy questionnaires, manage lists, samples and responded in detail, and create reports. It also allows fore the upload of images,” said Karen Franks, the company’s director of worldwide marketing.

The zoomerang basic service is free of charge. A subscription model, which offers expanded capabilities to users, is priced at $200 per year. Safeguard features guarantee that online surveys can be submitted only once.

The products’ flexibility is among their strong points, noted McCrea. “You can create a survey from scratch or use an existing template. We have all kinds of formats, such as multiple choice questions or one-word answers. Plus, the results are presented in graphically rich formats in real time, which allows users to measure incoming responses and act on the findings very quickly.”

Donald Bellomy, director of Internet business strategy at Strategic Analytics, recommends the product for “fast and dirty” evaluations.

“You can do a quick employee survey about an HMO plan through a human resources department, for example,” he said. “The possibilities are open-ended for getting information that was previously unavailable. This product helps to give its users a gut feeling.

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