The Disadvantages of Internet Marketing Research

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Internet marketing research has its limitations.
Internet marketing research has its limitations. (Image: Minerva Studio/iStock/Getty Images)

Internet surveys are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Companies can collect information quickly, and consumers can fill out information at their leisure. But even with this availability, there are certain inherent disadvantages of Internet marketing research. Companies sometimes discount online surveys as a primary source of data collection because of these disadvantages. Businesses may prefer to round out their Internet marketing research program with other methods that could include phone surveys, standard mail surveys and personal interviews.

Audience Representation

Companies that use Internet surveys never know who will fill them out. This could cause a lack of target audience representation in the online survey. For example, a discount woman's clothing company may primarily sell to women ages 18 to 35 with a specific annual income. But the people who respond to the survey may not be from the target customer base. Without a way of identifying respondents, the wrong people may be participating in the online survey, skewing the survey results with information that does not apply to the store or its customer base.

Not Random

Internet marketing research does not provide a random sampling of a target audience, which limits the utility of the results. All an online marketing survey does is include answers from those who visit your site and decide to click on the survey. For example, phone researchers may call every fourth person on a customer list during a survey, giving each customer an equal chance of being included in the survey. By contrast, Internet survey responses can occur quickly and haphazardly and be filled out by anyone who visits the site. Sometimes a company can reach its online survey quota in just a few hours but the data turns out to be worthless.

Technical Problems

Technical problems can interfere with respondents filling out online surveys, unlike phone or face-to-face interviews. For example, a respondent's computer screen may freeze while she's filling out the questionnaire, or some other unforeseen event could interfere with her Internet service. Consequently, she may not be able to complete the Internet survey. Another concern for the company that ordered the research is that many Internet surveys don't filter out double entries. As a result, the researchers may need to assign a special identification number to each respondent. A special ID would allow a respondent to fill out the questionnaire only once.

Limited Questions

Internet questionnaires are often short and simple because a company's technological know-how may be too limited for more complex surveys. Respondents may also lose interest in Internet questionnaires and quit filling them out before they complete them. Internet surveys introduced through pop-ups can annoy customers interested in buying, serving as a barrier to the service or product in which they are interested. A simple pop-up survey can cause them to bail from the site altogether and seek out competitors who make shopping a breeze.

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