Agency SelectionMarket Research

Grading Market Research Agency Websites

A few days ago, I posted a blog about market research agencies and their websites.

Do these websites matter? Aren’t they just electronic billboards?

I think they do matter.  A lot of people who buy and use market research visit agency websites. And frankly, they are more likely to visit an agency site than that of a professional association (such as the MRA or CASRO) or of a trade publication (such as Quirk’s or Research Magazine). So these agency websites are, intentionally or not, a key source of client education.

And at the risk of sounding preachy, I think all market research professionals have a responsibility to promote market research ethics, professional standards, and innovation. And one of the ways to do it is through our public faces.

The Method to My Madness

I selected 6 websites from the Honomichl list and applied my 4 criteria. To refresh, the criteria are:

  1. Educational content.
  2. Standards and ethics.
  3. Friendliness.
  4. Innovate thinking.

Grades of A-D were assigned based on specific criteria within each metric. As an example, an agency that has at least 20 educational white papers, videos or similar forms of content got an A on the Education metric. As another example, an agency that has no mentions of market research ethics or adherence to ethical standards got an F on that metric. And if I had to search for an item for an hour only to find it buried in press releases, that gets a D. Please note that in some cases I may have missed relevant content—but if I spent an hour seeking out content for a given metric and could not find any, it is for all purposes, a low grade.

So how did the agencies do? I selected the following agencies from the Honomichl list:

Burke

IPSOS

Maritz

Market Probe

Synovate

TNS

And to be clear, I am not looking to pick on anyone. I did this as an exercise to see how well agencies do on these metrics.  My key take-always:

  • Educational. Incredibly inconsistent, though a few shining stars.
  • Standards and ethics. As a group, agencies do this poorly. None had mentions of ethics or standards on their home page or other prominent pages on their web sites.  Professional association badges are hard to find, if evident at all.
  • Friendliness. Again, very inconsistent.
  • Promotes innovative thinking. Very inconsistent. A couple of agencies do a good job; a couple seem to neglect this angle altogether.

So How Did They Do?

The top 2 grades go to….drum roll….IPSOS and TNS.  Both have web sites that have the highest scores on the metrics applied. IPSOS has a bit more content that promoted market research innovation. But both sites do a great job on education and friendliness.

I welcome any feedback here, or by phone: 508.691.6004 ext 705. Thanks!

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Kathryn Korostoff

Kathryn Korostoff is founder and lead instructor at Research Rockstar. Over the past 25 years, she has personally directed more than 600 primary market research projects and published over 100 bylined articles in magazines. She is also a professor at Boston University, where she teaches grad students how to analyze and report quantitative data.

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7 thoughts on “Grading Market Research Agency Websites”

  1. Interesting post Kathryn. I do question the criteria a bit though. Is the goal of agency web site to promote the industry and educate or is it to try to move people through the funnel and engage with you? I’d argue the latter and that too much content can be detremental. Also what the biggest firms should be conveying is different than smaller firms even within the top 50.

  2. @Josh, AGREE

    I agree with Kathryn that websites are important. But yes, the goal with http://www.andersonanalytics.com is to sell and provise SEO and contact info as well as serve as a online business card. You can also overthink the site. That’s why I believe blogs and SNS are key. You can’t do it all in one place.

    Some new companies are going for refreshing simplicity though. Check out http://www.blue-berry.com or http://www.brandiosity.com/ are 2 examples of what I mean

    Curious what you guys think about these “less is more” type sites?

  3. Thanks Tom! Those are interesting websites–they were new to me.

    I have had a few requests from agencies that want to score their own sites–so if you want the “blank” spreadsheet I used, send me a note and I will email it to you.

    Overall, I have found this experience to be interesting. In general, the feedback is positive. Most people do agree agencies should promote their professional association memberships, and ethics/standards policies. All the feedback on the importance of friendliness has been universally positive. As for educational content, most agree that education and sales cycles go hand-in-hand, but of course there is a healthy debate that can be had about how much education to give and in what format.

  4. Great insight here, always interested in view from other’s perspective. If you don’t mind my asking, what criteria were used to select the six sites for evaluation? I also agree that there is a delicate balance to strike between posted information vs. information available upon request. We do feel individual(s) who would like a copy of our white papers should be willing to identify themselves.

    1. Hi Jack: Initially I intended to do many more firms, but I ran out of time for the project. The first 6 were fairly random, skewing towards the top if the Honomichl list.

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