Well if you are into market research then instead of traditional research (which is limited by number of people you can visit) you might be interested into reaching to a large number of peoples through lesser cost through Online Research
- Online Surveys - Like the traditional system surveys are and will most likely be the core of conducting research online for the foreseeable future. They are an efficient and cost effective manner for collecting quantifiable data and can be promoted either on the site itself or through banner advertising or some promotional campaigns.
- Blogs - For brands it is important to track what is being written about you in the blogosphere this helps in maintaining your online reputation and figure out need for improvements. If you setup your own blog on your website it acts as a perfect opportunity to initiate the conversation and start to gauge interest. Much of the data coming out of blog comments might not be relevant, but some of them will in the end help to shape the direction of other research initiatives.
- Social Networks - Social Networks like Orkut, Facebook etc can be used to create a bond with your userbase something what MTV India has done successfully for their superhit Roadies series which was boosted by all the buzz flying from various communities on Facebook and Orkut.
- Communities- Another ways to use communities are using the crowdsourcing model wherein you let your userbase generate new ideas and improvements for your products a brilliant example of which was the Dell Ideastorm initiative which I covered before.
- Online Panels - Pretty much similar to offline panels a survey panel is basically a structured online community. A researcher is essentially pre-screening these customers and asking questions, soliciting comments , and/or testing ideas through surveys or online focus groups. The demographics of these users are usually known so the data collected from a panel will have quite a bit more structure than a freeform community.
- Web Analytics - This is the data which is very much available to a website and is one of the strongest tools for analyzing customers online. Web analytics involves identification of visitor, analyzing the reason of visit and tracking his/her movement within your website until the time he/she leaves the website. Web analytics is a constantly available feedback from your visitors. How are my customers actually reacting to promotions via email? What products are getting more traffic than others on my site? Are my Ad campaigns working or going down the drain? These are the questions that web analytics are answering.