Mining for Marketing Gold on the World Wide Web

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Mining for Marketing Gold on the World Wide Web

According to Nielsen research, the average American now spends 59 hours per month on the Internet.1  During that time, he or she will go to 90 Web sites, view 2,621 Web pages, and spend 7 hours on Facebook. 

Undoubtedly, what people see, read, and chat about on Web pages, blogs, forums, and social networking sites exerts a powerful influence on their buying decisions.  For example, if they read several negative reviews about a hotel on TripAdvisor, they are likely to cancel their reservation and book a room at a competing hotel; if they see a glowing review of the iPad on CNET.com, they're more likely to buy one; and if their "friends" on Facebook are posting jokes about Toyota's safety issues, they'll probably think twice before purchasing a Camry.

The more you know about how your customers and prospects are being influenced online, the easier it will be to market your products and services to them.  Until recently, that seemed impossible, but now several new tools are emerging that are bringing it closer to reality.

Consider just one relevant development in the field of data mining:  the process of "web scraping."  Web scraping is an automated way of extracting data from Web sites that can then be used in business analysis or other types of research. 

Mozenda is one of the more popular vendors of data extraction software with its easy point-and-click tools.  It's being used in e-commerce, retail, telecom, entertainment, financial services, academic research, and many other applications. 

Companies can use Mozenda to extract customer feedback on their products from forums, chat rooms, and social networking sites automatically so that they can keep track of what people are saying about those products and identify potential problem areas long before they become critical.  "Web scraping" and data mining tools create a new opportunity for companies to recapture some of the leverage they've lost to increasingly empowered consumers.

Over the past two decades, consumer access to information has grown exponentially, largely due to the rise of the Internet.  This has given purchasers access to real-time knowledge of features and prices. 

But while this tidal wave of information has empowered consumers, it's also overwhelmed them.  They've addressed that problem by turning to informal networks of trusted individuals for help.  That's why "word-of-mouth" is still the most powerful force influencing buying decisions.  In fact, experts agree that word-of-mouth is still driving as much as half of all purchasing decisions...

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