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.

 

Advertisements

Diversity in Digital or e-Marketing Communications Strategy

Marketing and Communications
in Diverse Digital World

 

Hofstede Cultural Dimensions

 

Hofstede’s four cultural dimensions: ‘Power Distance, Avoidance of Uncertainty, Self vs the Group, Male vs Female’, all have significant impact on WOM and brand communication, plus a low or no negative WOM being important when engaging with target audience (Lam et al., 2009).  Hofstede’s dimensions are now six after being expanded further to include ‘Long-Short Term Orientation’, and ‘Indulgence-Restraint’ (Hofstede, 2011).

 

Marketing research and mapping of customer journey in digital and social media marketing

Diversity and Culture in Digital or e-Marketing Communication Strategy (Image copyright Pexels)

 

Some issues with this model include being culturally specific to IBM or the sample population at the time, predated wider access to travel, communications technology, newly emergent broad middle classes, with very significant regional and language differences within target market nations e.g. India and China.  Additionally, there are now demographic and cultural dynamics in societies along with globalisation; but the process of investigation of culture is very worthwhile, especially within a specific business or organisational environment (Myers & Tan, 2003).

 

 

This research study focused upon similarities of individuals when searching for information, not differences between nationalities, precluded by constraints of this study.  However, for utility or at a practical level any marketer or institution must be aware and sensitive towards cultural or national differences, that need to be accounted for in marketing and communications strategy, without national stereotyping.  As suggested, there is no one common behaviour or culture, however, a skilled marketer would understand the importance and how to assess, then account for in any regional or nation specific strategy under their purview.

 

e-Consumer Behaviour – What do they do?

 

Another more contemporary approach has three dimensions in e-consumer behaviour for brand trust: ‘Brand Experience’ and ‘Search for Information’, ‘Brand Familiarity’ and ‘Customer Satisfaction’, both cognitive and emotional (Ha & Perks, 2005).  Again, ‘brand experience’ and ‘search for information’ are highlighted as significant dimensions of consumer behaviour, underpinned by both rational thinking and feelings, including or represented by WOM.

 

Importantly, WOM referrals have longer or greater impact, if part of marketing communication strategy to leverage lower costs and speed of message via internet to persuade consumers, but little if any measurement or research has been conducted (Trusov et al., 2009).

 

Relationship Marketing, Interaction & Consumer Input

 

This leads onto to relationship marketing and online interaction that have become more important with internet due to two-way or multi-lateral communication potential (Liu, 2007).  In related ‘youth’ industry i.e. tourism and travel, youth users of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and SM have changed their behaviour on how they search for information on products, and can contribute to or participate in design, development and distribution of new products (Bizirgiannia & Dionysopoulou, 2013).

 

This highlights the fact that purchasing is a process over time, youth expect interaction around the product, two-way communication helps inform them and they can contribute to new products, including the marketing and communications strategy e.g. SEO.   In other words, talk systematically with and analyse your target market for feedback on products and experience, in addition to preferred distribution or communication channels and behaviour, to ensure any strategy works well.

 

Reference List:

 

Bizirgiannia, I. & Dionysopoulou, P. (2013) The influence of tourist trends of Youth Tourism through Social Media (SM) & Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) at the 2nd International Conference on Integrated Information. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042813003959 (Accessed 18/11/2016).

 

Ha, H. & Perks, H. (2005) Effects of consumer perceptions of brand experience on the web: Brand familiarity, satisfaction and brand trust. Journal of Consumer Behaviour. 4(6) pp. 438–452.  Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cb.29/abstract (Accessed on: 18/11/2016).

 

Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1014

 

Lam D., Lee A. & Mizerski R (2009) The Effects of Cultural Values in World-of-Mouth Communication. Journal of International Marketing. 17(3) pp. 55-70 Published by: American Marketing Association Harvard system

 

Liu Y (2007) Online interaction readiness: conceptualisation and measurement. Journal of Customer Behaviour. 6(3) pp. 283-299. Available at: http://www.yupingliu.com/files/papers/liu_interaction_readiness.pdf Accessed on: 10/01/2017.

 

Myers, M. & Tan, F. (2003) Beyond Models of National Culture in Information Systems Research. In Tan, F. (Ed.) Advanced Topics in Global Information Management Vol. 2. pp. 14-29. Hershey PA: Idea Group Publishing.

 

Trusov, M., Bucklin, R. & Pauwels, K. (2009) Effects of Word-of-Mouth versus Traditional Marketing: Findings from an Internet Social Networking Site. Journal of Marketing. 73(5) pp. 90-102.