Focus Group Research then Survey for Digital e-Marketing Strategy Development

Featured

Digital or e-Marketing Research for Strategy Development

 

Conducting Qualitative and Quantitative Feedback – Focus Respondent Interviews for Survey Instrument Development

 

Following outlines steps in applying research techniques for marketing using a MBA cohort of professionals of diverse backgrounds mostly based in Europe.

Limited interviews, both face to face and email based, were conducted with selected former students and industry stakeholders for experiential feedback to ascertain or confirm important factors.  After analysis of feedback, this led onto the development of a simple survey instrument with the factors or clusters of elicited, making up dimensions or phases (Saunders et al., 2009).  One could then measure or relate the importance of each factor in the information search amongst a related population or student cohort, then drawing inferences, but neither correlations nor causal relationships.

 

While optimal language and communication skills are important for questionnaires, there must be a process of researching, identifying and forming the questions to be included in a survey, that leads to valid and reliable data for analysis; one cannot go back after collecting survey data.

 

Ordinal Likert scales can be used to assess the strength of perceptions on relevant factors, on a three, five or seven-point range and can indicate order e.g. not very important through neutral to very important.  Ideally scales are applied to many factors or questions leading to inference of a construct explaining the research focus.  In this study, simply assessing relevance of each factor grouped as phases or dimensions for inclusion e.g. if deemed to be important or very important by students (Bell, 2005).

 

While the quantitative data collection or survey was a ‘probability sample’ or ‘representative sampling’ i.e. all from the same online MBA cohort, to allow inferences to be made about the population, the ‘Focus Respondents’ informing the survey development represented ‘non-probability’ sampling for convenience or streamlining.

 

By accessing ‘Focus Respondents’ and gaining input from potential population, also including informed input from industry personnel, industry and scholastic research; a valid survey instrument could be developed (Saunders at al., 2009).

 

The sample population of university students surveyed represent the population’s ‘information seeking’ behaviour, through collecting quantitative data from this representative sample of enrolled European University students in online MBA program.

 

Ideally this could have been expanded further amongst other sample populations for comparison and cross tabulation, but the scope of this study precluded inclusion, however actual colleges, public organisations and SME business workplaces can replicate the process.

 

Reference List:

 

Bell, J. (2005) Doing Your Research Project. (4th Ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

 

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2009) Research Methods for Business Students. (5th Ed.) Harlow UK: Pearson Education Ltd.

 

 

Advertisements

NOM Net Overseas Migration – Immigration – Population Growth

Population, Immigration and Net Overseas Migration NOM

Interesting article on immigration and NOM net overseas migration by former Australian Department of Immigration Deputy Secretary Abul Rizvi endeavouring to insert some understanding and clarity round the ‘immigration’ debate when most misunderstand, misinterpret or misrepresent immigration and population data.

 

 

This is manifested in media, political and public narratives that focus upon the NOM and the false notion that it is both unusually high and can be micromanaged; underpinned by lack of detail or ‘solution’ to lowering the NOM (without assessment of broader societal impacts).

 

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Putting the numbers back into the immigration debate

ABUL RIZVI 20 FEBRUARY 2018

Drastically reducing net migration would be neither easy nor wise, says a former senior official.

How governments manage migration is a big deal. A perception of too many arrivals drove the Brexit result in Britain, helped define the Trump presidency, and fuelled the rising populist vote in Europe. Japan’s ageing population is driving its government to increase immigration — but ever so cautiously, recognising the likely backlash from its largely homogeneous population. And the same demographic forces have driven China to try to attract back part of its huge diaspora.

Yet, despite our long immigration tradition, Australia’s immigration debate is tortured and surprisingly poorly informed. Until very recently, this was not helped by the Turnbull government’s eerie silence on immigration levels and population policy. Immigration minister Peter Dutton’s tentative foray late last week should therefore be welcomed.

Given the complexities, immigration ministers have an obligation to be accurate with the data and honest about the range of issues to be considered in significantly reducing the intake. Dutton was neither.

 

Issues and Critique of Net Overseas Migration Statistics and Data

 

The NOM is a measure of movements, not designed as an ‘immigration’ target but merely measures numbers of people (irrespective of nationality, visa status and includes Australians) who enter Australia with the intention of remaining longer than 12/16+ months (ABS, 2017).

Rizvi cites several variables or inputs that would be required to control or lower the NOM.  This would include restricting rights of Australians marrying foreigners, restricting numbers of international students, preclude second year visas for working holiday makers doing agricultural work, close the refugee program, limit New Zealanders and seek out overstayers.

Other issues or features neither understood nor highlighted:

  1. Few nations use the same NOM as a measure to estimate resident population apart from Australia, UK and NZ then e.g. in the EU Schengen Zone it’s impossible due to free movement and that most nations appear to estimate from e.g. residency registration or census data (UN, 2015).
  2. Rizvi also fails to mention the cumulative statistical impact of an ageing population of citizens and permanent residents (includes significant numbers of British subjects) who were already in country 2006 when line was drawn in the sand on population; many have neither departed nor returned to Australia long term and have two impacts upon the data (and census). First is longevity due to better health hence staying in the data longer (though invisible) being attributed to ‘immigration’.  However, this will change when the baby boomer demographic starts departing this earth in the medium long term in about five years onwards i.e. deaths will outnumber births for long term thus impacting the estimated resident population significantly.  This is also set against already declining fertility rates and global population ex. Sub Saharan Africa, expected to peak by mid-century as explained by development, medical and statistics expert Professor Hans Rosling (Gapminder, 2013).
  3. A significant financial reason for encouraging temporary residents with no likelihood of permanent residency outcomes, whether students, backpackers etc., is as net financial contributors paying taxes without future access to state services. In other words, they support or subsidise increasing numbers of retirees needing pensions, health care etc. dependent upon healthy state budgets (with decreasing dependency ratio of workforce tax payer numbers to retirees).
  4. Further, statistical analysis has found that not only is the NOM very confusing, it may over estimate Australia’s population significantly, through double counting those not in country but not outside for more than 12/16+ months:

Except on migration. On this single metric, it’s as if the entire world converges into a deafeningly silent consensus. Population! At last a hard number. Something tangible, physical, consistent. The cacophony of economic debate subsides as everyone gather’s around to pay homage at the altar of the purest, simplest driver of demand, production, and everything else. The one undisputed back-stop to debate…Trying to find a simple and defensible explanation of a complex issue isn’t easy. But for migration, I think there is one. I’ll describe it here in prose, and in a later post gather some of the graphs and data that support it. There has been a level shift. But it hasn’t been in ‘migration’, as everyone actually intends and understands the word. The shift that we should be talking about has been in mobility.’ (Quixotic Quant, 2017a).

 

The alternative story is that sometime in the mid-2000s the Australian Bureau of Statistics changed the definition of an official statistic called “Net Overseas Migration”. The arbitrary definition they had at the time was malfunctioning, and the next arbitrary one they changed to has been malfunctioning even worse. A blithely ignorant press didn’t even notice the change, let alone query the disfunction that inspired it, so the entire country has been putting their faith soaring population figure that has the integrity of custard. The harder alternative figure shows that our migration rate is actually flat’ (Quixotic Quant, 2017b).

 

  1. By using ‘Migration’ in NOM to describe the definition may simply be a linguistic coincidence, however, it is highly suggestive of a direct correlation with permanent immigration and long-term population growth, which does not exist (except by some indirect correlation set amongst other factors).
  2. The local and global NGOs, think tanks, institutes, commentators, ‘ecologists’, media and politicians who constantly highlight supposed negative aspects of immigration and ‘sustainable’ population growth have been influenced or manipulated by the US white nativist movement, with the latter being influential amongst Republican Party and Trump (SPLC, 2001) in turn influenced by Darwin’s cousin Galton’s ‘science of eugenics and racial hygiene’ (Das, 2015).
  3. Post WWII prior to the formation of the UN Population Council the Rockefeller Foundation (Standard Oil/Exxon Mobil) co-opted the American Eugenics Society (AES) which had become discredited by the Nazis and their ‘research’ at The Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes in Germany, to then form the UN Population Council (Kurbegovic, 2005 & Novielli, 2017).
  4. Also, to emerge with support of same and similar oligarchs’ (fossil fuels and auto) foundations were Zero Population Growth (ZPG) (Bentley Historical Library – University of Michigan, 2018), Zero Economic Growth (ZEG) (Daly, 1980) and the Club of Rome ‘limits to growth’, etc. constructs (Green Agenda, 2018) to popularise negative perceptions of population growth and immigration as ‘liberal and environmental’ concerns (Stern, 2005).
  5. Demographically it is now coming to a head for many whether middle Europe or the ‘Anglosphere’ with the refrain, ‘brown people, Moslems etc. are going to outnumber white people or WASPs leading to demographic suicide….’.

 

Reference List:

 

ABS – Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017) 3412.0 – Migration, Australia, 2015-16 Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/exnote/3412.0 (Accessed on: 25 February 2018).

Bentley Historical Library – University of Michigan (2018) John Tanton Papers: 1960-2007. Available at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/b/bhlead/umich-bhl-861056?byte=53770321;focusrgn=bioghist;subview=standard;view=reslist (Accessed on: 27 February 2018).

Daly, H. (1980) Why the Industrial World Needs Zero Economic Growth (Recording). Available at: https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/34007423?selectedversion=NBD22971101 (Accessed on 27 February 2018).

Das, S. (2015) Francis Galton and the History of Eugenics at UCL.  Available at: https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/museums/2015/10/22/francis-galton-and-the-history-of-eugenics-at-ucl/

Gapminder (2013) Don’t Panic – The Facts About Population. Available at: https://www.gapminder.org/videos/dont-panic-the-facts-about-population/ (Accessed on: 25 February 2018).

Green Agenda (2018) The First Global Revolution. Available at: http://www.green-agenda.com/globalrevolution.html (Accessed on: 27 February 2018).

Kurbegovic, C. (2013). Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics (KWI-A). Available at: http://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/connections/5233cdc25c2ec500000 Accessed on 25 February 2018).

Novielli, C. (2017) The Population Council has a shocking 65-year history, and it’s nothing to celebrate. Available at: https://www.liveaction.org/news/population-council-founded-eugenicists-promoting-abortion-turns-65/ (Accessed on: 25 February 2018).

Quixotic Quant (2017a) The state of debate: A bird’s-eye on migration. Available at: https://www.quixoticquant.com/post/the-state-of-debate-a-bird-s-eye-on-migration/  (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

Quixotic Quant (2017b) The Missing Million: Is Australia’s migration rate actually high? Available at: https://www.quixoticquant.com/post/the-missing-million/ (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

SPLC Southern Poverty Law Center (2010) Anti-Immigration Groups. Available at: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2001/anti-immigration-groups (Accessed on 25 February 2018).

Stern, M. (2005) Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America. California: University of California Press.

UN – United Nations – Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2015) International Migration Flows to and From Selected Countries: The 2015 Revision. Available at: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/data/empirical2/docs/migflows2015documentation.pdf (Accessed on: 25 February 2018).

How to Research the Digital Customer Journey

Featured

Related Research on International Student or Customer Information
Seeking Journey

 

This study started with individual focus input from a limited number of former international students and stakeholders giving open and related feedback on information seeking factors; mirroring grounded research techniques allowing issues to emerge within time and resource constraints (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).

 

This study, through qualitative techniques of literature review, with stakeholder feedback from both students and marketers, was followed by quantitative measurement of data from a modest but relevant sample student population, using descriptive statistics i.e. data tables, informing a construct with analysis, then discussion and recommendations.

 

Good starting point for qualitative research is ‘grounded theory’, a methodology to allow issues to emerge from focus respondents; this was partially replicated, but in an abbreviated or streamlined version.

 

Qualitative Research – Grounded Research Theory & Inductive Approach

 

Qualitative data from interviews or focus respondent feedback can be used for the ‘Inductive Approach’ (to inform survey instrument) exemplified by fluid theoretical framework, identification of relationships in the data for potential hypotheses, then theory emerges from this process.  Further, there are various types of approach e.g. summarising meaning or ‘condensation’, categorisation or ‘grouping’ and structuring or ‘ordering’ leading to a narrative, this approach avoids becoming caught in a deductive process of proving theory (Saunders, 2009).

 

Further, analysis of the emergent qualitative data allows comprehension, integration, pattern recognition, then potential development or testing of theories.  Also significant are language terms that emerge from the data, which also appear in existing literature, that are used by participants and relevant industry (Ibid.).

 

Language analysis is especially important to inform good website design, SM usage, content marketing and SEO keywords and phrases, reflecting the language or communication means that students prefer, use and can find.

 

Why Mixed Methods & Grounded Research Theory?

 

The reasons for using mixed methods include ‘triangulation’ to corroborate both facilitation and complementarity through qualitative and quantitative, ‘generality’ assessing importance through quantitative, and ‘aid interpretation’ with qualitative explaining quantitative.  This approach can solve a puzzle through analysis i.e. asking students directly versus guessing or assuming the latent factors driving their behaviour when planning a purchase (Saunders, 2009).

 

Grounded theory emerges from induction through the study of a phenomenon, e.g. study of student information searching preferences to derive a ‘grounded’ marketing and communications strategy or approach.  However, qualitative via grounded theory follows a process of systematic data collection and analysis related to a phenomenon so that data collection, analysis and theory relate to each other; it’s not subjective opinion (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).

 

Using mixed methods of data collecting or multi-method approach, adds up to enhanced validity and reliability through ‘triangulation’ (Bell, 2005).  Coding can also be done in a selective manner in choosing the core category for which relationships and other categories are viewed (Ibid.). Process or linking up of elements in the research or study emerges as a sequence of events, exemplified by identifying need, information search, analysis and decision; mirrors many cyclical processes including those outside of marketing (Ibid.).

 

The research process in this case, using grounded theory, allowed flexibility provided evaluation criteria are satisfied, leading onto empirical grounding (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). How or where do we start?

 

 

Reference List:

 

Bell, J. (2005) Doing Your Research Project. (4th Ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

 

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2009) Research Methods for Business Students. (5th Ed.) Harlow UK: Pearson Education Ltd.

 

Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990) Basics of Qualitative Research – Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques. Newbury Park CA: SAGE Publications.

 

Technology in Higher Education – Innovation Policy – Skills – Digital Literacy

Following is an article by Rogoff in Project Syndicate on the adoption, or not, of technology in universities and higher education whether MOOCS, flipped learning model, online or e-learning etc.

From Project Syndicate:

When Will Tech Disrupt Higher Education?

Feb 5, 2018 KENNETH ROGOFF

Universities pride themselves on producing creative ideas that disrupt the rest of society, yet higher-education teaching techniques continue to evolve at a glacial pace. Given education’s centrality to raising productivity, shouldn’t efforts to reinvigorate today’s sclerotic Western economies focus on how to reinvent higher education?

CAMBRIDGE – In the early 1990s, at the dawn of the Internet era, an explosion in academic productivity seemed to be around the corner. But the corner never appeared. Instead, teaching techniques at colleges and universities, which pride themselves on spewing out creative ideas that disrupt the rest of society, have continued to evolve at a glacial pace.

Sure, PowerPoint presentations have displaced chalkboards, enrolments in “massive open online courses” often exceed 100,000 (though the number of engaged students tends to be much smaller), and “flipped classrooms” replace homework with watching taped lectures, while class time is spent discussing homework exercises. But, given education’s centrality to raising productivity, shouldn’t efforts to reinvigorate today’s sclerotic Western economies focus on how to reinvent higher education?…

…Universities and colleges are pivotal to the future of our societies. But, given impressive and ongoing advances in technology and artificial intelligence, it is hard to see how they can continue playing this role without reinventing themselves over the next two decades. Education innovation will disrupt academic employment, but the benefits to jobs everywhere else could be enormous. If there were more disruption within the ivory tower, economies just might become more resilient to disruption outside it.

 

Issues for higher education may emanate from teaching and/or learning tradition or habits, physical size and complexity e.g. silos, self-perception of being leaders not followers, older generations lacking digital literacy making strategic decisions, interests of permanent versus temporary personnel, slow moving and long communication lines both top down vertical, and lateral.

 

Tradition versus Innovation?

 

One could argue that traditional university lectures, religious preaching and political propagation have centred round expert or influencer communicating physically to non-experts in familiar formats that have not been challenged since the time of Gutenberg, duplicator and photocopiers?

 

Further, underlying issue is may be existing personnel, hence processes and systems, preclude taking on new digital technology (optimally) as observed in other sectors due to perceived disruption or lack of encouragement, or even discouragement.

 

Digital or e-Marketing and Communications

 

Marketing and communications in international education was a case in point whereby strategy informed by faculty attendance at international events was replicated in ‘international marketing’ with focus upon events including professional development and networking opportunities, versus marketing grounded in enrolled students on campus (customer journey, relationship management, satisfaction, testimonials, peer influence and word of mouth).

 

Digital or e-marketing arrived by early noughties but at best was used by universities etc. for international marketing as modest ‘budget allocation’ through traditional advertising and promotional channels. Described by some technophobes as something for the domestic ‘web marketing team’ when in fact digital behaviour upends traditional channels requiring bottom up analysis and strategy development, plus KPIs and ROI.

 

Architecture of Higher Education and Policy

 

Another concern with the focus now upon effective, efficient or economic education delivery and digital technology is the specialisation and/or atomisation of those working in all levels of education versus well rounded professionals with skills of content, teaching, learning, design, delivery, assessment, evaluation, administration and technology.

 

Rather than expecting or commissioning sub-contractors to consult with subject matter experts (SMEs), doing ‘instructional design’ (possibly lacking knowledge pedagogy and andragogy), narrow evaluation e.g. of course design only, using doctorate qualified temporary instructors for blended learning or flipped model but lacking skills of teaching; why not multi-skilled educators delivering based upon customer or student learning needs?

Focus Group Research for Digital e-Marketing Strategy Development

Featured

Digital or e-Marketing Strategy Development
Research Design & Methodology

 

Optimal research is based on triangulation between scholarly and industry research representing a process with related factors, then analysis and coding of key stakeholder feedback according to same process.  Thirdly, it can be followed by quantitative data gathering or survey of customers’ attitudes on the factors that emerged, joining the circle or triangulation.

 

The literature review can highlight research and industry issues or views of marketing and communications for international education or related products and services, leading to an optimal marketing and communications construct to inform strategy and professional practice.  Additionally, to inform or validate any construct, qualitative data needs to be collected through focus type respondents from industry or target market, coded and analysed for inclusion of important factors in a survey instrument.

 

Quantitative data can be collected, described and analysed; resulting in a practical process and template for both small and large entities. It is limited neither to education nor marketing, but applicable to any workplace investigation or consulting, not unlike good investigative journalism or detective work or training needs analysis.

 

Research Approach Rationale

 

This data collection and qualitative research use the inductive approach, with grounded research methods, which informs development of a survey instrument, and represents the purchase decision process model.  The focus is ‘information search or discovery process’, produces data for analysis and then informs a generic marketing and communications model or template, for marketing and communication practitioners, through a process.

 

This is opposed to taking the deductive approach of testing a hypothesis already formed from previous research or practice, assuming data and a hypothesis or rationale is publicly available.  However, the deductive approach is precluded by the lack of the following: transparent marketing strategies, access to data, direct process based KPIs key performance indicators and ROI return on investment, meaningful analytics on student marketing and communications, and access to statistically significant sample population(s).

 

 

Effective medium or long-term strategy may be precluded by a short-term sales or ROI type of analysis of an annual marketing investment budget, evaluating only selected inputs and outputs, but neither processes nor future income streams.  Accordingly, with related scholastic research lacking in this field, a contemporary framework or construct reflecting both target market and changing technology, is needed to aid analysis and future marketing.

 

Research Design & Methodology

 

The research can start with question or proposal round ‘information seeking’, review of marketing research literature and education industry reports with expert focus respondent feedback.  From the latter, a survey instrument can be developed, piloted, data collected, then analysed according to descriptive statistics through e.g. Survey Monkey, then data tabulated, presented, analysed, reported and linked back for business applications.

 

Inductive Approach to Qualitative Research

 

One can take the approach of ‘theory first’ and test deduced hypotheses to verify theory, or conversely ‘theory after’, not starting with theory but collecting data to generate a theory or model.  This is not unlike inferring the significant factors that impact how Google and Facebook Page search algorithms affect SEO, when the algorithm is commercial in confidence.

 

The research is based on eliciting relevant process or factors to inform and develop a latent construct of optimal marketing and communications for students as purchasers, especially related to the information seeking phase or journey.  This construct, developed through inference, should suggest good industry practice that includes latent factors or (re)sources that allow students to find relevant information to analyse for a future purchase decision.

 

Advantages of this approach are that it allows one to take a research direction, it does not force respondents to adopt a restrictive theory or framework that may preclude relevant feedback (Saunders et al., 2009).  Such a construct can be used to develop a marketing and communications strategy or template, then used to develop initial, or compare existing, strategy and evaluate, according to users, clients or students; creating systematic process and utility in the sector.

 

Research Proposition

 

How do students’ or customers’ information seeking behaviours relate to marketing and communications strategy in international education or related service industries?

 

The research proposition posits that there is a relationship between more recent information seeking factors exemplified by digital, and the older WOM word of mouth, for a purchase decision process, with development of grounded, practical marketing and communication strategy.

 

This data collection and research focused mostly upon the similarities in recent digital based ‘information search or discovery process’, the factors that are related to this process and could be used to infer an optimal information seeking construct or model (Kotler & Keller, 2012).

 

Reference List:

 

Kotler, P. & Keller, K. (2012) Marketing Management. (14th Ed.) Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education – Prentice Hall.

 

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2009) Research Methods for Business Students. (5th Ed.) Harlow UK: Pearson Education Ltd.