Digital Market Research: Definition, Examples and Case Studies



The internet is a treasure-trove to be mined, albeit mindfully. Approximately nine out of ten American adults utilize the internet, and twenty-six percent claim to be online “almost constantly.”  That kind of activity naturally produces a lot of data. Digital market research helps us decipher that data and use it to our advantage.  At Zen Media, we analyze quantitative discoveries alongside the qualitative. Facts and figures are stage one in digital market research. Stage two is posing questions to real users, questions that are informed by datasets found in stage one. This mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis fully develops our research.

What is digital market research?

We used to receive surveys in the mail and phone calls on the landline for market research. Now, data is garnered from an array of digital platforms, and in real time, too.

What are the top five traffic sources that are driving visitors to my site? What are the top traffic sources that are driving visitors to my competitor’s site? How can we increase response rates? These questions and more can be answered by conducting focused digital market research.


Let’s say you want to gain greater insight into the patterns of repeat customers. The repeat purchase rate can be calculated by using a straightforward formula. One simply divides the number of customers who have made a couple or multiple purchases, in a given time frame, by the total number of customers, in the same time frame.

Repeat purchase rate = number of customers who have made more than one purchase


total number of customers

Now that you have determined your repeat purchase rate, you might want to dig deeper and look at the amount time that passes between purchases. If your aim is to condense the amount of time, consider modifying your confirmation emails to include “similar products” from the items your customer purchased. You could also incorporate these recommendations in your packaging with the original purchase, the tangible effect coming from purchaser contact.

Maybe your digital market research has lead you to the conclusion that repeat customers usually wait several weeks in-between purchases. With this awareness, you can match your marketing strategies with the consumer’s personal timeline, giving them advanced notice on items that may be of interest to them.

The more you know from digital market research, the more attuned you are to the connect consumer’s spending and purchasing habits.

Case Studies


Snickers conducted digital market research with an immensely successful type of irreverence. Expanding on their “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign, Snickers put forth the concept of typos brought on by hunger as the center of their “You can’t spell when you’re hungry” initiative.

After obtaining a list of Google’s top 500 misspelled words, Snickers used an algorithm to generate a list of 25,381 different misspellings.

Slip-ups such as “wierd,” “publically,” and “buisness” yielded clever ad copy, suggesting the typee relieve their afternoon hunger with a Snickers bar.

Snickers’ clever take on digital market research earned them 558, 589 ad impressions in two days, with an overall click through rate of 1.05 percent. These results were pretty sweet, to say the least.


Neutrogena, the #1 dermatologist-recommended skin care brand, sells their products in more than seventy countries. The company was interested in inquiring into their customers’ spending habits. Neutrogena started with an analysis of shopping basket data. There, the company could pinpoint competitor products that their own customers were buying, more precisely, competitor products that were within Neutrogena’s price range.

The beauty product company found that seventy-five percent of their loyal customers were purchasing items from one segment in the Neutrogena range, and that range only. The company wanted their loyal customers to broaden their horizons and purchase items from other Neutrogena segments. The company also wanted to acquire new, first-time customers.

The shopping basket data inspired Neutrogena to create pairings of beauty products that reflected the customer’s past purchases and that inherently went well together, like a face cream with an eye cream, or a liquid eyeliner with eye makeup remover. These product pairings were advertised through banner ads, videos, and coupons.

Neutrogena’s return on ad spend was $5.84, exceeding their own benchmarks by 289%. Ad awareness also rose 5.4%, which exceeded the company’s benchmarks by 182%.

COX Communications

Zen Media started working with COX Communications when they were in the midst of developing FastTrack, an educational app designed for children. The app engages children in math and English exercises while allowing parents and teachers to witness a child’s progress and join-in on the fun.

But creating something completely new always has its risks, and we were well-aware that the FastTrack app was new terrain for COX. We needed to combine generating interest with gathering information, so the launch could be both a success, and provide important learnings for the parent company.

How did we do it?

We combined the power of market research, investigating who the trusted voices in this realm were, and where they were holding court, with the power of growth hacking techniques, such as a focused landing page and the right mix of platforms and content.

The campaign was also able to convert an impressive 6% of the target audience, and Zen was able to demonstrate to COX Communications that despite big names like Sylvan and Kaplan’s dominance in the education market, there was still room for an app that provided kids with a competitive edge and parents with control over their child’s progress and learning, especially if it could partner with reputable content creators.

Digital market research is the gateway to a fine tuned, pragmatic campaign that can yield truly remarkable results. Because so many individuals are spending a large amount of time on the internet, we feel strongly at Zen Media that this is where you and your company should be spending most of your time and strategic focus.


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