MARKETING RESEARCH

Market research is a systematic way to gather, evaluate and present it in a form that explains various facts and figures to the business. Collected information acts as a vital tool to have increments in business activities, qualitative work done and improved profits. Any company, whether small scale or large scale, can perform market research before marketing its products or services. It can also be useful when launching a new product or diversifying the business. It is useful as well when a company has to expand its business globally. It avails numerous benefits to the businesses.

 
Among the different methods of data gathering for research purposes, many researchers due to its various advantages, strengths and benefits prefer the survey method. However, surveys also have their disadvantages and weak points that must be considered.
Advantages of Marketing Surveys
Market research is a scheduled method to collect, analyze and correlate beneficial data for the benefit of business to make strategic decisions. Collected information acts as a vital tool to have increments in business activities, qualitative work done and improved profits. Any company, whether small scale or large scale, can perform market research before selling its products or services. It can also be useful when launching a new product or diversifying the business. It is useful as well when a company has to expand its business globally. It avails numerous benefits to the companies.
 
Among the different methods of data gathering for research purposes, many researchers due to its various advantages, strengths and benefits prefer the survey method. However, surveys also have their disadvantages and weak points that must be considered.
Online surveys and mobile surveys tend to be the most cost-effective modes of survey research, yet they may not reach those respondents that can only respond using alternate modes. Results of online surveys and mobile surveys may suffer and differ greatly if important respondents are left out of the research. Hard-to-reach respondents may be easier to reach using more traditional methods such as paper surveys or face-to-face interviews. The self-completed postal or mail survey is a recognized form of data collection in marketing research (Dillman 1978). There are well- documented practical problems with this form of data collection: poor response rates, slow response, and manual transcription of data from a hard copy questionnaire to an appropriate statistical analysis tool. Non- response and data entry errors may result. Consequently, research into online data collection methods increased significantly during the late 1990s. This was preceded by (1) a growing number of Internet and email users, which started to mirror the general population in some countries (Kehoeetal.1998),and(2)variouscomputer-assisteddatacollectiontechniques, such as Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI) and Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI). Investigation into the validity of online data collection has been grounded mainly in comparisons   between   online   surveys   and   mail   surveys   (Schaefer & Dillman 1998; Stanton 1998; Sheehan &Macmillan 1999). The need for mastering new tools, incorporating the latest technology in data collection, has been identified by Craig and Douglas (2001). They advise that international marketing researchers will need to broaden their capabilities in order to design, implement and interpret research in the twenty-first century.
Advantages of Marketing Surveys
Surveys are easy to develop, especially when using the advanced survey software solutions available today. Many researchers are tempted to do much of their data collection online; however, it is not always the preferred mode of data collection, especially if respondents are in hard-to-reach areas. Whether a researcher uses an online survey, mobile survey, paper survey, or a combination of all modes, the mode should depend on the type of study and the demographics of respondents.
Online surveys and mobile surveys tend to be the most cost-effective methods of survey research, yet they may not reach those respondents that can only respond using alternate modes. Results of online surveys and mobile surveys may suffer and differ greatly if important respondents are left out of the research. Hard-to-reach respondents may be easier to reach using more traditional methods such as paper surveys or face-to-face interviews.
Advanced survey software solutions have multi-mode capabilities for online surveys, mobile surveys, email surveys, paper surveys, kiosk surveys, and more, giving researchers the ability to survey even the hardest-to-reach consumers, and analyze data from all survey modes collectively.
The ability to reach respondents is one challenge of surveys. However, surveys have several advantages. The chief advantage to surveys is they are relatively easy to administer and can be developed in less time which in turn makes it more cost-effective, depending on the survey mode.   Surveys can be conducted remotely via online, mobile devices, mail, email, kiosk, or telephone, which makes it convenient to collect data from a large number of respondents.
With survey software, numerous questions can be asked about a subject, giving extensive flexibility in data analysis and the advanced statistical techniques can be utilized to analyze survey data to determine validity, reliability, and statistical significance, including the ability to analyze multiple variables and the surveys, are relatively free from errors.
Major benefits are as follows.

  1. Market research provides accurate information about market trends, industrial changes, consumer behavior, etc. It helps to know different market opportunities present worldwide.
  2. Research reports reveal uncertainties that may arise due to changes in business activities or introduction of a new product in the market. It guides companies to take decisive actions to cope with threats in a niche market.
  3. The Internet facilitates to get free or low-cost market reports online for small and medium sized business. Affordable price for doing online research work acts as a benefit to all businesses.
  4. Organizations can get to know about marketing strategies of rivals so that they can be prepared with innovative ideas and impressive sales targets. This way they can get a competitive advantage over its competitors.
  5. By knowing consumer preferences, companies can develop their products and services and take hold of the huge competitive area. Moreover, companies can develop international marketing strategies to promote products worldwide.
  6. Latest market research reports help companies to have in-depth analysis of industry and future trends. Companies can have global perspective for their international business by studying market statistics.
  7. Industry analysis helps to formulate growth strategies to increase sales and build brand image in the market.
  8. Diversity

Surveys provide a high level of general capability in representing a large population. Due to the usual huge number of people who answers the survey, the data being gathered possess a better description of the relative characteristics of the general population involved in the study. As compared to other methods of data gathering, surveys can extract data that are near to the exact attributes of the larger population.

  1. Economical

Due to drastically lower overhead, collecting data does not have to cost you thousands of dollars. When conducting surveys, you only need to pay for the production of survey questionnaires. If you need a larger sample of the general population, you can allot an incentive in cash or kind, which can be as low as $2 per person. On the other hand, other data gathering methods such as focus groups and personal interviews require researchers to pay more.

  1. Convenient for respondents

They can answer questions on their schedule, at their pace, and can even start a survey at one time, stop, and complete it later. Surveys can be administered to the participants through a variety of ways. The questionnaires can simply be sent via e-mail or fax, or can be administered through the Internet. Nowadays, the online survey method has been the most popular way of gathering data from target participants. Aside from the convenience of data gathering, researchers are able to collect data from people around the globe.

  1. Good Statistical Results

Because of the high representativeness brought about by the survey method, it is often easier to find statistically significant results than other data gathering methods. Multiple variables can also be effectively analyzed using surveys.

  1. Observer Subjectivity

Surveys are ideal for scientific research studies because they provide all the participants with a standardized stimulus. With such high reliability obtained, the researchers own biases are eliminated.

  1. Precise Results

As questions in the survey should undergo scrutiny and standardization, they provide uniform definitions to all the subjects who are to answer the questionnaires. Thus, there is a greater precision regarding measuring the data gathered.

  1. Automation and real-time access.

Respondents input their data, and it is automatically stored electronically.  The analysis thus becomes easier and can be streamlined, and is available immediately.

  1. Less time.

Rapid deployment and return times are possible with online surveys that cannot be attained by traditional methods.  If you have bad contact information for some respondents, you’ll know it almost right after you’ve sent out your surveys.

  1. Design flexibility.

Surveys can be programmed even if they are very complex.  Intricate skip patterns and logic can be employed seamlessly.  You can also require that respondents provide only one response to single-choice questions, which cuts down on error.

  1. No interviewer.

Respondents may be more willing to share personal information because they’re not disclosing it directly to another person.  Interviewers can also influence responses in some cases.
Advanced survey software solutions have multi-mode capabilities for online surveys, mobile surveys, email surveys, paper surveys, kiosk surveys, and more, giving researchers the ability to survey even the hardest-to reach consumers, and analyze data from all survey modes collectively.
The ability to reach respondents is one challenge of surveys. However, surveys have several advantages. The chief advantage to surveys are they are relatively easy to administer and can be developed in less time which in turn makes it more cost-effective, depending on the survey mode.   Surveys can be administered remotely via online, mobile devices, mail, email, kiosk, or telephone, which makes it convenient to collect data from a large number of respondents.
With survey software, numerous questions can be asked about a subject, giving extensive flexibility in data analysis and the advanced statistical techniques can be utilized to analyze survey data to determine validity, reliability, and statistical significance, including the ability to analyze multiple variables and the surveys are relatively free from errors.
Major benefits are as follows.
1. Market research provides accurate information about market trends, industrial changes, consumer behavior etc. It helps to know different market opportunities present worldwide.
2. Research reports reveal uncertainties that may arise due to changes in business activities or introduction of a new product in the market. It guides companies to take decisive actions to cope with threats in niche market.
3. Internet facilitates to get free or low cost market reports online for small and medium sized business. Affordable price for doing online research work acts as benefit to all businesses.
4. Organizations can get to know about marketing strategies of rivals so that they can be prepared with innovative ideas and impressive sales targets. This way they can get competitive advantage over its competitors.
5. By knowing consumer preferences, companies can develop their products and services and take hold of huge competitive area. Moreover, companies can develop international marketing strategies to promote products worldwide.
6. Latest market research reports help companies to have in depth analysis of industry and future trends. Companies can have global perspective for their international business by studying market statistics.
7. Industry analysis helps to formulate growth strategies to increase sales and build brand image in market.

8. Diversity

Surveys provide a high level of general capability in representing a large population. Due to the usual huge number of people who answers survey, the data being gathered possess a better description of the relative characteristics of the general population involved in the study. As compared to other methods of data gathering, surveys are able to extract data that are near to the exact attributes of the larger population.

9. Economical

Due to drastically lower overhead, collecting data does not have to cost you thousands of dollars.When conducting surveys, you only need to pay for the production of survey questionnaires. If you need a larger sample of the general population, you can allot an incentive in cash or kind, which can be as low as $2 per person. On the other hand, other data gathering methods such as focus groups and personal interviews require researchers to pay more.

10. Convenient for respondents

They can answer questions on their schedule, at their pace, and can even start a survey at one time, stop, and complete it later.Surveys can be administered to the participants through a variety of ways. The questionnaires can simply be sent via e-mail or fax, or can be administered through the Internet. Nowadays, the online survey method has been the most popular way of gathering data from target participants. Aside from the convenience of data gathering, researchers are able to collect data from people around the globe.

11. Good Statistical Results

Because of the high representativeness brought about by the survey method, it is often easier to find statistically significant results than other data gathering methods. Multiple variables can also be effectively analyzed using surveys.

12. Observer Subjectivity

Surveys are ideal for scientific research studies because they provide all the participants with a standardized stimulus. With such high reliability obtained, the researchers own biases are eliminated.

  1. Precise Results

As questions in the survey should undergo careful scrutiny and standardization, they provide uniform definitions to all the subjects who are to answer the questionnaires. Thus, there is a greater precision in terms of measuring the data gathered.

  1. Automationand real-time access.

Respondents input their own data, and it is automatically stored electronically.  Analysis thus becomes easier and can be streamlined, and is available immediately.

  1. Less time.

Rapid deployment and return times are possible with online surveys that cannot be attained by traditional methods.  If you have bad contact information for some respondents, you’ll know it almost right after you’ve sent out your surveys.

  1. Design flexibility.

Surveys can be programmed even if they are very complex.  Intricate skip patterns and logic can be employed seamlessly.  You can also require that respondents provide only one response to single-choice questions, which cuts down on error.

  1. No interviewer.

Respondents may be more willing to share personal information because they’re not disclosing it directly to another person.  Interviewers can also influence responses in some cases.

Disadvantages of Surveys

1. Inflexible Design

The survey that was used by the researcher from the very beginning, as well as the method of administering it, cannot be changed all throughout the process of data gathering. Although this inflexibility can be viewed as a weakness of the survey method, this can also be a strength considering the fact that preciseness and fairness can both be exercised in the study.

2. Not Ideal for Controversial Issues

Questions that bear controversies may not be precisely answered by the participants because of the probably difficulty of recalling the information related to them. The truth behind these controversies may not be relieved as accurately as when using alternative data gathering methods such as face-to-face interviews and focus groups.

3. Possible Inappropriateness of Questions

Questions in surveys are always standardized before administering them to the subjects. The researcher is therefore forced to create questions that are general enough to accommodate the general population. However, these general questions may not be as appropriate for all the participants as they should be.
A good example of this situation is administering a survey, which focuses on affective variables, or variables that deal with emotions.
Over the past decade, the use of online methods for market research has skyrocketed.  Due to ever-increasing technological advances, it has become possible for do-it-yourself researchers to design, conduct and analyze their own surveys for literally a fraction of the cost and time it would have taken in the past.
But are there any drawbacks compared to traditional methods (such as mail, telephone and personal interviewing)?  Today I’ll provide a list of several main advantages and disadvantages of conducting market research surveys over the Internet.  While the choice of mode is entirely dependent on your specific topic, purpose and goals, Internet questionnaires are a great option in many instances.
Limited sampling and respondent availability.  Certain populations are less likely to have Internet access and to respond to online questionnaires.  It is also harder to draw probability samples based on e-mail addresses or website visitations.
Possible cooperation problems.  Although online surveys in many fields can attain response rates equal to or slightly higher than that of traditional modes, Internet users today are constantly bombarded by messages and can easily delete your advances.
No interviewer.  A lack of a trained interviewer to clarify and probe can possibly lead to less reliable data.
Though the list is not exhaustive, you can see that the benefits may outweigh the drawbacks for researchers in most situations, especially for shorter, simpler projects.
The reliability of survey data may depend on the following factors:
Respondents may not feel encouraged to provide accurate, honest answers
Respondents may not feel comfortable providing answers that present themselves in an unfavorable manner.
Respondents may not be fully aware of their reasons for any given answer because of lack of memory on the subject, or even boredom.
Surveys with closed-ended questions may have a lower validity rate than other question types.
Data errors due to question non-responses may exist. The number of respondents who choose to respond to a survey question may be different from those who chose not to respond, thus creating bias.
Survey question answer options could lead to unclear data because respondents may interpret certain answer options differently. For example, the answer option “somewhat agree” may represent different things to different subjects, and have its own meaning to each individual respondent.  ‘Yes’ or ‘no’ answer options can also be problematic. Respondents may answer “no” if the option “only once” is not available.
Customized surveys can run the risk of containing certain types of errors
Though they’re numerous advantages, there also exist some problems.
1. The research work on large basis requires funds to be invested by companies. Small-scale companies may not be in condition to assign large budgets just for research purpose.
2. Research reports prepared by organizations may lack somewhere due to inexperience in data collection, market analysis or absence of market intelligence to do research work.
3. There are various methods used for research which are appropriate for some searches and are not so for others. Inaccurate methodology will result in wastage of time, money and efforts.
4. Sometimes while taking interviews, consumers may not respond truly. Primary data collection will not be effective or precise if there is no real insight into exact market condition.
Besides having problems, market research serves an important purpose of business. Smart entrepreneurs use it in profitable ways and try to reduce its deficiency.
 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of mail surveys?
The advantages of mail surveys are:
No interviewer bias
Cheap
Repeatable
Often gains thoughtful answers
The disadvantages are:
Doesn’t ensure qualified respondent
Low response rate
Inability to gain further detail / probe
Poor turnaround time
What are the advantages and disadvantages of telephone surveys? 
The advantages of telephone surveys are:
Ensure qualified respondent
Ability to probe / Gain further detail
Fast turnaround time
Good response rate
The disadvantages are:
Distribution bias (difficult to reach certain segments)
Use of phone mail and answering machines
No absolute assurance of confidentiality
Interviewer bias
What are the advantages and disadvantages of in-person or face-to-face surveys? 
The advantages of in-person surveys are:
Ensure qualified respondent
Ability to probe and can show objects etc.
Good response rate
Respondent involvement
The disadvantages are:
Potential exists for interviewer bias
Expensive due to travel and other costs
Interviewer bias can be extreme
Poor turnaround time
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Internet surveys?
The advantages of Internet surveys are: A significant advantage of email surveys is the speed of data collection (see Table 1). This is at very low cost to the researcher (no postage and printing costs and no involvement of interviewers), and instant access to a wide audience, irrespective of their geographical location, which makes it very appropriate for cross-sectional studies and/or international comparisons. 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 survey is lower than for email surveys. Another advantage of web-basedsurveysisthebetterdisplayofthequestionnaire,whereasemail 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 (i.e. multimode approach), combining the advantages ofeach. Short response time is certainly one of the greatest advantages of online surveys. online surveys allow messages to be delivered instantly to their recipients, irrespective of their geographical location. The same applies to thespeedoftheresponse.Responsestoonlinesurveysreportedindifferent surveystookunderamonth.Rayetal.(2001),Online surveys have minimal financial resource implications and the scale of the survey is not associated with finances, i.e. large-scale surveys do not require greater financial resources than small surveys. Expenses related to self-administered postal surveys are usually shaped in outward and return postage, photocopying, clerical support and data entry, none of which is associated with online surveys. Furthermore, the respective questionnaire can be programmed so that responses can feed automatically into the data analysis software (SPSS, SAS, Excel, etc.). This adds to the time-saving advantages of online surveys on the one hand and avoids all the data input
(and associated transcription errors) on the other.
A significant disadvantage of email surveys relates to the confidentiality of the participants in the survey. Mail surveys give respondents the choice of being anonymous, whereas emails always disclose the sender’s identity. Perhaps response rates would be higher if respondents’ anonymity was somehow guaranteed beforehand.
 
Low cost
No interviewer bias
The disadvantages of Internet surveys are:
Doesn’t ensure qualified respondent
Biased respondent demographics (not projectable)
Inability to probe (can ask only a couple of questions)
Poor response rates – facility exists for survey to be terminated
What are the major advantages and disadvantages of focus groups?
A focus group survey is a survey method wherein the respondents from the target population are typically put in a single group and interviewed in an interactive manner. The participants in a focus group are given the opportunity to freely talk about and discuss their ideas and opinions towards the object of the survey.
The term “focus group” was created by Ernest Dichter, a famous market expert and psychologist. Robert K. Merton, a sociologist and the associate director of the Bureau of Applied Social Research headed the first focus groups in the United States. When used as a survey method, the focus group approach presents various pros, strengths and benefits, as well as cons, weaknesses and drawbacks.

Advantages of Focus Group Survey

One of the advantages of a focus group survey is that it is effective for a group of respondents that comprise of young children, people who use English as a second language and people with lower literacy levels. Another advantage of this type of survey is that respondents can answer and build on each other’s responses, improving the richness of data being gathered.

Disadvantages of Focus Group Survey

A major disadvantage of a focus group survey is that it the survey results may not fully represent the opinion of the larger target population. In addition, the facilitator must be well-trained to handle any situation that may arise from the focus group interaction.

Types of Focus Group Survey

1. Single and Two-way

First, there is the single, one-way or traditional focus group wherein all the respondents are placed in just one focus group to interactively discuss the object of the survey. This typical focus group is composed of 6 to 12 members. On the other hand, the two-way focus group involves two focus groups – one focus group discussing the object, and the other focus group observing and discussing the interactions of the members of the first focus group.

2. Dual Moderator, Dueling Moderator, and Respondent Moderator

The dual moderator focus group involves two moderators – one moderator monitoring the smooth progression of the focus group session, and another moderator observing if all the questions in the survey are asked during the discussion. In contrast, the dueling moderator focus group includes two moderators who purposely get on opposing sides regarding the object. For example, one moderator is saying that the product is effective, whereas the other moderator is arguing that it is ineffective. On the other hand, one of the respondents temporarily becomes the moderator of the focus group in respondent moderator type.

3. Teleconference and Online

Focus groups can be conducted either in a telephone network or in an online or Web network. Free online video providers such as Skype can be used in this subtype of focus group survey.
The advantages of focus groups are:
Can include product demo’s, visuals, and food service
Good idea generator (brain storming)
The disadvantages are:
Can be very expensive (recruiting, incentives, etc.)
One focus group session represents only a single data point (not statistically valid)
A group leader may appear and adversely affect overall results
Participants may not attend (risk of failure)
Recruiting is limited – participants must be able to attend and therefore limited to those who work or live nearby.
Client personnel may coach participants or edit transcripts.

 
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