Methodology & Method
This section will present the chosen research philosophy and the research approach. Furthermore, the techniques in terms of data collection, the sampling method and the data analysis will be presented. Finally, the credibility and trustworthiness will be discussed.
Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2016) argue that there are five main research philosophies within research in business management, namely positivism, critical realism, interpretivism, postmodernism and pragmatisms. Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) argue that the research falls within interpretivism when the aim of the research is to understand unique and complex business situations and understand how people embrace and interpret the social world. Hence, this thesis falls near the interpretivist philosophy since the aim of the thesis is to explore the concept of success and how it can be evaluated, which is a rather unique and complex issue that cannot be quantified in objective terms. Also, since the concept of success is subjective and can be interpreted differently a qualitative study is necessary in order to gain an in-depth understanding, which according to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009) is a suitable approach when the research falls within the interpretivism.
When deciding upon a research approach there are three main approaches that can be undertaken, particularly the deductive, inductive and abductive approach (Saunders et al., 2009). The deductive approach starts with the development of theories or hypothesis based on existing knowledge, which are then empirically tested by the research strategy. The deductive approach therefore concerns the confirmation or modifications of existing theories (Saunders et al., 2009). In contrast, Saunders et al. (2009) describe the inductive approach as an approach where a theory is developed based on the analysis and interpretation of the findings. The inductive approach is used to better understand the nature of a more complex issue (Saunders et al., 2009). The third approach is the abductive approach, which can be viewed as a combination of the other two where the researcher both emphasize the findings while at the same time moving back to review existing literature (Alvesson & Sköldberg, 2009). In this study, the key themes that were used during the data collection, searched for in the data and later used as a guide during the analysis were derived from the theoretical chapter. Hence, it can be argued that the thesis owes to the deductive reasoning. However, the study allowed for new and other interpretations of the findings and by that it also includes elements of the inductive reasoning. It can therefore be argued that the thesis contains element of both approaches.
Concerning the purpose of a research it can either be exploratory, explanatory or descriptive. Sanders et al. (2012) describe an exploratory study as gaining an in-depth understanding and information about the phenomenon. Hence, in order to gain rich insights into, interpret and gain an understanding of how digital marketing activity success is evaluated, this thesis is exploratory in nature. Therefore, the case study as a research strategy was chosen. In this study, the “cases” refers to different digital marketing activities. Yin (2009) states that a case study allows the researcher to get a profound understanding of the phenomena in a specific and complex context. Also, Yin (2009) suggests that a case study can be suitable when the aim of the research is to explore the phenomenon. These are also reasons why the authors of the thesis find the case study suitable. Furthermore, Saunders et al. (2009) state that multiple cases are preferable in contrast to a single case study because the researchers can identify if the phenomena occur in various situations. Another advantage of multiple cases is that data evidence can be generated from different cases compared to a single case (Yin, 2009). However, there have been some arguments about the issues concerning case studies. One issue with case studies that has gained debate is concerns about the credibility and trustworthiness of case studies (Gummesson, 2007). Therefore, to address this issue, a discussion concerning the trustworthiness of this study will be presented later in this chapter. Another disadvantage with case studies is that the outcome is difficult to generalize (Yin, 2009). This study does not seek to statistically generalize the findings, instead the aim is to get rich insights into the concept of digital marketing success in B2B by using different digital marketing cases.
Company and cases selection
The research was conducted within one company operating in the textile flooring industry. By using one company, the aim was to gain an in-depth understanding of the subject. The company is a family business which produces design flooring and currently has 98 employees. The company was interesting since it has moved from being a traditional company that operates offline to a company that is moving towards digitizing both its marketing activities and its operation. Moreover, the company has an online presence and are active on digital medias where it executes most of its communication. The company’s largest market is B2B, which makes it interesting because B2B companies are not as established on social media and other digital communication channels compared to B2C companies. Moreover, the company provided the authors with access to the company resources such as the employees and digital analytical data, which is another reason for selecting the company. These resources were seen as valuable in this exploratory study since there was a possibility to observe and analyze different data. In order to obtain rich insight about the phenomenon, nine cases in terms of digital marketing activities were used. The cases were selected freely by the company’s digital analyst. The criteria for the cases was that they had to be derived from the company’s main digital channels and be relatively close in time.
In order to ensure the literature review is trustworthy, several steps were taken in the exploration process. Firstly, databases such as Scopus, Emerald insights and Science direct were used to assure that only peer-reviewed articles were selected. Secondly, keywords connected to the purpose of the thesis were used in order to find relevant articles of the topic. Some of the important keywords in this thesis were digital marketing success, marketing performance, digital metrics, digital measurement and digital marketing content. Thirdly, by using, for example, Scopus, the articles could be ranked in regards to the amount of citations, which was helpful since it indicates that the articles are of high relevance. Furthermore, on Science direct the articles could be ranked in regards to their relevance, which was a valuable function as well. Finally, in order to find the most trustworthy information, often mentioned authors were identified and by that their articles were considered as relevant.
Saunders et al. (2009) claim that there are two main data collection methods commonly used within business administration research, particularly quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data is numeric data where surveys and questionnaires are commonly used techniques. In contrast, qualitative data is non-numeric data where interviews are one of the most common technique (Saunders et al., 2009). For this study a qualitative approach was chosen since the aim of the thesis was to explore and gain an in-depth and clear understanding of the concept success in digital marketing activities and how those activities are evaluated and analyzed. Therefore, the subject matter is rather complex to quantify in numerical terms, which the quantitative method implies.
For the cases in this study, data from digital analytics programs and tools was necessary in order to investigate how the marketing activities are measured and how success is evaluated. Moreover, data in terms of numbers and statistics was vital in this study as it serves as a base of measuring digital activities and by that it allows to assess the successfulness. Therefore, different metrics and statistics from Google Analytics and Social media analytics were provided from the company in regards to the cases, which was later used in the interviews.
Together with the digital analytics, interviews were conducted. Saunders et al. (2009) presents three different approaches when conducting interviews which depend on the structure and the formality of the interview. The interview approaches are structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews. Structured interview is a highly formal type of interview where the aim of the interview is to gather quantifiable data by using predetermined questions such as a questionnaire (Saunders et al., 2009). In contrast, semi-structured and unstructured interviews are used to gather more qualitative data, and as a result rich insights and a deep understanding of the phenomenon can be obtained (King, 2004). Since this study is exploratory in nature and the purpose was to gain a deeper understanding, semi-structured and unstructured interviews were suitable in order to gather the data.
The advantage of using semi-structured and unstructured interviews was that it allowed the authors to explore and seek rich insight into the phenomenon. Moreover, another advantage was that probing questions could be asked in order to elaborate more on the topic, which according to Saunders et al. (2009) is beneficial when the aim is to explore. Lastly, semi-structured and unstructured interviews also gave the authors the ability to identify new areas that had not been encountered on prior to the interviews. The unstructured interview method was used when interviewing the digital analyst in order for him to speak freely about the cases he put forward and how he assessed success of the various cases. Semi-structured interviews were used when interviewing the other respondents. Since the respondents’ opinions about these specific cases were of interest, the interviews had to be structured to some extent, but still providing the respondents with the opportunity to speak freely and answer additional questions.
In total five face-to-face interviews were conducted in Ulricehamn, Sweden. All interviews were held between 28th of March and 24th of April and lasted between 50 and 90 minutes. All the respondents have Swedish as their native language and the interviews were therefore conducted in Swedish. All the interviews were timed and voice recorded (see Table 1).
The interview sessions consisted of three parts. During the first part, general questions about the respondents and their positions in the company were asked. Also, questions concerning their habits of using digital channels both privately and for work were asked. These questions were asked in order to become familiar with the respondents as well as it was a way to build mutual trust. During part two, the cases were presented and the respondents were asked open questions about each case. For example, they were asked if they remembered any of the cases and if so why etc. During this part, only the case in question was shown and nothing else (i.e. no data and no statistics). The respondents were instead told that they could ask for any information they found necessary when evaluating and analyzing the cases and if so, it would be provided. This technique was used in order to reduce any bias, since the aim was for the respondents to ask for the information when evaluating the case, instead of pushing information on them. The rest of the data and statistics were instead shown during the last part of the interviews. The respondents were given the opportunity to use the data if they found it necessary.
Table of Contents
1.2 Problem Discussion
1.4 Research questions
2. Theoretical Frame of reference
2.1 Financial- and nonfinancial approaches
2.2 Digital marketing metrics selection and digital tools
2.3 The importance of content in digital marketing
2.4 Summary of frame of reference
3. Methodology & Method
3.1 Research philosophy
3.2 Research approach
3.3 Case studies
3.4 Company and cases selection
3.5 Literature review
3.6 Data collection .
4. Empirical findings
4.1 Metrics definitions
4.2 Case 1
4.3 Case 2
4.4 Case 3
4.5 Case 4
4.6 Case 5
4.7 Case 6
4.8 Case 7
4.9 Case 8
4.10 Case 9
5.1 Performance approach
5.2 Digital metrics
6. Conclusion and discussion
6.2 Discussion .
6.3 Limitations, future research and implications
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
The concept of success in B2B digital marketing activities, from one company perspective