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Web marketing/ecommerce - research and statistics resources

Planning ahead is an important part of any ecommerce venture. When we're working on our sites, it's very easy to become blinkered and lose sense of where things are heading in our relevant online industries.

Finding *good* statistics and research resources can be a bit of a problem - especially if you don't have the budget to shell out thousands of dollars annually on white papers and survey results - in fact, it's not uncommon to spend over a thousand dollars on a *single* paper. That's all well and good for the multi-national corporations, but what about for the small business owner?

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Watch for research bias

The good news is that there's a substantial amount of free research information available - in fact there's truckloads. Unfortunately, much of it is biased towards whatever the company has released it is trying to prove - usually the validity of their own products and services. 

For example, let's examine this statement:

"Over 90% of persons surveyed stated that they were looking to purchase X product in 2004"

Ok, that may be quite true; but how did they arrive at that figure and how many persons were surveyed? If it was a company who surveyed only people that came to their product's online brochure, then it's like a "shooting fish in a barrel" scenario and not really representative of an industry sector. Perhaps the surveying company only asked 10 people, or perhaps the associated question was something like: "Would you purchase X product in 2004 if we offered you a 30% discount." You get the idea...

There's just so much information out there - for any particular area of ecommerce or marketing, you'll always find various claims for various strategies; so it's important you obtain your information from valid resources before deciding the direction of your online business, or what products you will be marketing in the future, *before* you invest serious time or money.

Here's a couple of excellent resources that offer a plethora of free information that you may like to add to your bookmarks for research purposes.

Cyber Atlas - the big picture in statistics

Over the years we have used Cyber Atlas (now Clickz.com) extensively for researching various industries. The current state of practically every major online industry is covered in some form including an excellent current database of general topics such as:

  • Current online populations

  • Online populations by country and age group

  • Security statistics

  • Most visited retail sites

  • Spam stats

  • Top online properties

  • Broadband and wireless uptake

  • Online shopping habits 

  • Various holiday sales figures

  • Top affiliate programs

  • Browser/OS statistics

.. and that's just scratching the surface. We've used the information from Cyber Atlas to recognize emerging trends and then to find products and services to meet the new demands.

The results aren't just pulled from the air, they are excerpts from more detailed surveys carried out by online research heavyweights such as Nielsen Netratings, comScore Media Metrix and Jupiter Research. It's a great way to get an insight on your industry sector for free.

Marketing Experiments

I came across this marketing strategies research site a few months ago and was very impressed with the contents. Marketing Experiments offer a stack of free research information, a very reasonably priced premium subscription service with a 14 day free "lab pass" trial to their premium content, plus a free newsletter.

Marketing Experiments' aim is to test out all forms of marketing strategies, compile results and to publish those results for their members' review. The company invests a substantial amount of money (up to $50,000 on each method) and time into researching each strategy.

In recent times, Marketing Experiments has carried out research in:

  • Affiliate marketing 
  • Google and Overture paid inclusion
  • Comparison search engines tested 
  • Yahoo stores  
  • 5 other pay search engines tested
  • Shopping cart abandonment (very interesting results)
  • Web site awards - worth the time and effort?
  • Web metrics
  • Popup/popunder strategies
  • Home page design
  • Order form strategies

Marketing Experiments also contains strategy sets for small business owners who are new to ecommerce. The company also provides free access to online conferences with researchers, and analysts who conduct the experiments where you can ask specific questions and receive personalized advice for your situation.

It's definitely worthwhile subscribing to their free updates and if you have the cash to spare, to obtain a premium membership - don't forget to take advantage of Marketing Experiments free lab pass!

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
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