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.
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).
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.