How Research and Development Relate To E-Marketing

E-Marketing has changed research and development in ways. The presentation below displays the effect it has on research and development.

Rachel Tam’s Presentation

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Google Is Our Best Friend

If using idea blogs, reading reviews, or social media is too much of a hassle to get ideas, what other ways can research and developers use to gather information and data? The answer is simply the Internet.  For many small businesses, because they lack the budget to do big scale market research, the Internet is a good place to gather those data and Google is the perfect tool for that job.

The Internet has simplified the process of collecting and generating data. To be successful in today’s market, conducting research is a must. With the information they gathered, businesses could adjust their strategies to be in line with the current market. According to small business blogs, there are 5 approaches businesses can take and all five steps can be done with Google.

The first approach is to research secondary data, which are information that has been collected from another party, such as journals and articles conducted by other businesses. The second approach is to use Google Adwords Keyword Tool, which helps measure keyword usage and monitor social media sites and other blogs that mentioned the company’s name. The third approach is to look at competitors’ site and see what they are doing and what other people are saying about them. That way companies get an idea of the type of products and services they are offering. The forth approach is to use Google Analytics to measure the flow of traffic to measure their presence in the market. It is a way to keep track on where the clicks are coming from.

The fifth and final approach is to conduct online survey. Online survey is very different from the traditional survey because anyone can do it without getting off his or her chairs, and it may also be the cheapest way to do this. Sites such as Survey Monkey and Question Form are free survey generators. Companies can also use Google docs to create and distribute the survey. The results are live and are then inputed and organized into a spreadsheet. Companies can use their online focus groups and invite a few individuals to participate.

Google is a great tool for a lot of people and it is especially helpful in e-marketing. Without Google’s tools, tracking the number of clicks would be disorganized and difficult. Before Google’s time, research and development was done through the traditional way of mailing out surveys and approaching people who walks by, but according to Burns, author of Marketing Research, the responses rate is as low as 4%.

Facebook Has Valuable Information

With the increase growth of social media, research and developers can use it for two different ways: social media monitoring and directly seeking customer feedback. Even small businesses can use this method without a research and development budget. Social media can be one of the best resources for companies to get data from a larger group of people with higher response rate.

As mentioned by Shelly Kramer, social media has grown so much that if Facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd largest in the world. Between 2010 and 2011, Twitter’s tweet per day had a growth of 252%, from 27 million to 95 million tweets per day. 71% of the companies use Facebook, 59% use Twitter, 33% use YouTube, and only 6% use Myspace. From 2007, the number of companies that use corporate blogs has increased from 16% to 43% in 2012.

With the number of people that are active on social media, it makes it easy for companies to gather information about your company, a product or service, and even competitors.  Erik Deckers, author of ‘No Bullshit Social Media‘, said by listening to the online conversations that customers may be talking about, they can gather information that can assist them in their decision-making and to produce a better product.

There are free websites such as SocialMention.com to monitor it or a more sophisticated website such as uberVu for $40 a month.  Similar to Google Adwords, those websites can be used to search for relevant conversations from users around a certain geographic location. If a phrase was mentioned multiple times talking about their needs, they have just collected a new idea from the web.

The second approach is to use social media to build relationships and connect with customers to turn them into their focus group.  Companies can simply post a question on their status asking about the product, fans that “liked” their page will reply to the question. This is a non-formal technique that companies are using to gather free information.

Other social media platforms such as Twitter and Google plus have yet to prove to be as helpful in gathering information as Facebook. It is due to Twitter being a constant flow of information and updates that the tweet will be buried before fans could see it. It makes it difficult for any company to gather information. Google plus has yet to be fully developed as Facebook, but in the future, it may be just as useful and engaging as Facebook is in collecting data for future developments.

Impact of Online Reviews

In Marketing, students were taught consumers go through five stages of consumer behavior. Problem recognition, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior. However, most of the stages are done through the Internet. When we recognize a need, the first thing we do is to do information research on the product or service. We then are more than likely to find alternative to what we are looking for. After finding the right product at the right price, we turn back to the Internet and write our reviews of the product or service.

The review stage is the most critical stage for any part of business since every company wants good feedback on the Internet. So, what happens when a customer experiences bad product or service and releases their anger online? One, it can spread like wildfire among the community which creates a negative connotation about the company, or two, management can quickly respond to the customer’s want and need by making changes to their product/service. Of course, option two is the best choice.

Because bad reputation and news spread fast, management must act quickly to stop and resolve any issues. A great example of this was when Netflix first launched in Brazil. When Netflix first started its service in Brazil, many had anticipated it and had high expectations. However, when Brazilians learned that there was a lack of well-known series, they were disappointed. Besides lacking Hollywood movies, Netflix had a hard time acquiring the license for Brazilian movies. Another big criticism they received was the audio quality, especially among users who prefer subtitles to dubbing. Netflix took all the criticisms and reviews into consideration and improved its service in Brazil.

Every potential buyer goes through the five stages of consumer behavior. The second and third step, information search and alternative evaluation, are the most important steps that determines whether the buyer will become your customer. Information search and alternative evaluations are all done through the use of the Internet based on reviews and ratings. As consumers, if we read bad reviews it will drive us away and to look for other options. We tend to believe other customers who are similar to us and when we see negative comments, we will more than likely go elsewhere.

According to ReviewPush, a Facebook poll determined that 20 out of 20 consumers make decisions based on user reviews and when they see a negative review 75% of them will pass the word to their friends and family. Consumer reviews are about 12 times more trusted than descriptions from manufacturers. 90% of the consumers trust recommendations from people they know and 70% from online unknown users. 61% of people rely on customer reviews before making their purchasing decisions. It was estimated that by 2014, 53% of sales from both online and offline will be affected by the Web. With the high number of impacts reviews have, negative comments can drive sales away and businesses need to act quickly to prevent that. When customers post their bad experience with a product/service, management will need to find out about the situation and respond by finding a solution to the problem. Businesses can monitor what others thought of their business and can adjust and adapt accordingly.

Researching online feedbacks and developing responses to complaints are a big part of research and development. With the decrease in survey response rate, online reviews are the next best feedback and review businesses will get. With e-marketing, Management can make changes and develop new ideas and systems to fix repeated negative responses as fast as they are posted. Managers can see what they are doing correctly and make changes to bad ones.

Companies should monitor what customers are saying about them because one bad review can impact sales. Not saying they should reply to everyone who leaves a bad rating, but they need to know when to respond to a negative review and decide whether the person has ‘social status’ within the social media community. If the person who left a bad rating is very influential within the community, then it would be best to make correct the problem. However, if it was someone who has a few followers or subscribers, they may acknowledge the comment but may not correct the problem.

Who will listen to my ideas?

For the longest time, businesses relied heavily on their research and development team to physically go and collect ideas and data from the public to improve their existing products or creating new products. Then analyze the data collected to forecast the public’s appreciation for the idea. Today, companies are getting product and improvement ideas from the public just by using the internet.  Their main focus is no longer the R&D team, they can cut cost by getting ideas from a large group of users on the internet; a term referred to crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is a great way for the public to share their ideas and opinions. More businesses are taking advantage of this opportunity.

In 2009, Google came out with the Google Idea Product Blog. This product blog allow users to post, discuss, and vote on others’ idea. The more votes an idea get, the higher chance it has of Google implementing the idea. So what happens when Google makes million from an idea you posted? As mentioned in Adam Frucci’s blog, you get nothing more than a shout out from Google. The Idea Product Blog has failed to mentioned what would happen if Google does take your idea.

Google is only ONE of the MANY company that utilizes the convenience of the internet. Starbucks launched an ‘idea blog’ of their own called MystarbucksIdea where Starbucks fans can share new drink, experience, and innovation ideas. Here is an example of gift cards that a customer created and was implemented by Starbucks, the Starbucks gift card multiple packs and mini card. However, according to Walter Adamson, only 0.03% of ideas are put to work. 75,000 ideas have been submitted and 25 ideas were implemented during the first year. That is an average of 3 ideas for every 10,000 submitted.

Dell also launched their IdeaStorm website which allow users to do the same similar things. Dell’s implementation rate is higher  (at roughly 250) than Starbucks, but nonetheless, Dell is similar to Starbucks because only a small amount gets implemented. Dell’s focus is not the return on investment, but rather to create a dynamic and democratic culture for communication, innovation, and in the end sales. Dell realizes there are negative comments associated with the IdeaStorm, but in order to survive the change environment, all feedback are good feedback.

Crowdsourcing is becoming a big trend in E-marketing. Companies are using it as a way to engage their customers and to make them feel connected with big corporations. It makes them feel as if they have the power to change things for the better. With idea websites, it shortens the steps and combines research and development and customers relations all in 5 steps. The 5 steps mentioned in Ines Nadal’s blog are listen, monitor and understand, identify, predict, and take action. Not only do idea blogs help companies develop, it also helps with branding strategy, communication concept, and media planning. Highly active idea contributors have a higher chance to be picked by companies to test and give feedback about a product or service before they launch it to the general public.

In a way, Idea blogs can be seen as a ‘social networking’ site. It connects users to other users alike with similar innovation and passion, an interactive way to engage people to unleash their creativity. Agencies and clients can connect and may even recruit talent from all around the globe.

Before internet-marketing became a huge trend, it was almost impossible for people to voice their opinions and thoughts. Now, if others favor an opinion, the concept may actually become a reality. Even though the implementation rate is low, it is the idea that customers can contribute and be proactive with the company. Internet marketing has encouraged people from all over the world to share their views and by empowering their voice.

Quiznos vs Subway

In the current economy, it is difficult for businesses to rise to the top and make a profit. Businesses are in a constant competition with other businesses in the same genre. To make an impression on customers, companies need to put forth their best marketing effort and convey to customers’ on why they are better than their competitors. When making a decision, customers look to see what gives them the most bang out of their buck.

Sustainability is becoming a huge topic and more people are focusing on being more sustainable. Sandwich shops tend to give customers the impression they are healthier and greener compared to regular fast food restaurants. Subway is one of sandwich shops’ biggest competitor. They are widely known throughout the US and around the world. How do Quizno’s compare when the two are are being compared….?

Location

Both sandwich shops can be found worldwide, but the number of sites Subway has significantly outnumbers Quizno’s. Subway was founded in 1965 and they currently have 36,352 restaurants in 98 countries. That is a average rate of opening 773 restaurants a year! Quizno’s was founded in 1981 and currently have about 3500, an average of 113 restaurants. In terms of market presence and convenient locations, Subway wins this round because of their fast growing number in locations and convenience.

Subway: 1

Quizno’s: 0

Menu

Compared to other sandwich shops, Subways offer a variety choice of meat, sauce, toppings, and bread. There are hundreds different choices for a sandwich. However, when compared to its competitors, the sandwiches seem typical and similar in taste, the sandwich relies heavily on the sauce you put on your sandwich. Quizno’s on the other hand depends on the meat, toppings, and sauce to bring out the flavor and a variety of original sandwiches that cannot be found in other shops.

Subway: 1

Quizno’s: 1

Value

When Subway launched its $5 footlong, it became a huge hit and it is still continuing to make an impact on the sandwich industry. For a regular sandwich at Quizno’s, it can range from $6-$8 depending on the kind. Knowing this, Quizno’s tried to compete with Subway by launching their $4 Torpedo. Nancy Luna, a fast food critic, compared the two sandwiches side by side in her blog post Quiznos’ $4 Torpedo vs. Subway’s $5 footlong. In length, the Torpedo was an inch longer compared to the footlong, but the Subway sandwich was loaded with toppings. In terms of value, it would be in the customers’ best interest to get a better tasting and loaded sandwich for an extra dollar.

 

Subway: 2

Quizno’s: 1

Bottom Line: It really depends on what one looks for in a sandwich shop. Sometimes it is great to switch it up and try different sandwiches. Subway and Quiznos both have their advantages and disadvantages. For this comparison, Subway is the winner in both convenience and value. If you are tired of constantly eating Subway, it is always nice to try something different such as Quizno’s. Quizno’s may not have the best value nor best location, but it does have original recipes that cannot be found in other sandwich shops.

Subway Diet?

For the month of December, Subway is doing a special promotion where a 6 inch sandwich is only 2 dollars. Of course, this only applies to two kinds, the Meatball Marinara and the Cold Cut Sandwich. With both being so delicious, it obviously comes with consequences. According the official Subway nutrition information website, the 6″ Meatball Marinara for example has 303 g calories and 950 mg of sodium. That is ONLY the meatball and the meatball sauce alone. Of course, we all like to add extra on top of that, such as cheese, mayo, mustard, and the shakers. With all that added on, the calories in that sandwich is well over 400 calories. The healthiest 6″ sandwich is BLT sandwich, which only has 151 g calories with nothing else added. It does not seem Subway is as healthy as the way they advertised it to be on TV.

The famous spokesperson for Subway, Jared Fogle, claimed he lost a significant amount of weight due to his “healthy” diet of Subway. With what I mentioned above, it makes me wonder which sandwich he was eating. The only way this diet would work is if he ate the veggie sandwich everyday, three meals a day, AND exercised on top of that. As human, who can actually eat the same meal for more than twice? We will get tired of it before we can see the effects of the diet.

Since Subway has been advertising this for a couple of years, they really want to deliver the message that Subway sandwiches are healthy. However, this could be considered as misleading advertising and marketing. Maybe if Subway went into details on his daily diet and routines, it will enforce their claims. There are some marketing techniques that I find questionable with business. However, the general public believe claims that businesses make. As a marketing major, I always question the claims and advertising businesses make.