BY: LKENNED (LKENNED@DEAKIN.EDU.AU)
When someone mentions ‘marketing research’, my immediate thoughts conjure a scientist in a lab coat drinking Coca Cola whilst reflecting on the new colour of the cans. A little far fetched, but not all that far from the myriad of stereotypes surrounding the area of modern marketing.
What if you’re a services business or don’t have access to scanner data?
Furthermore, what if your business is a ‘Start-up’ and doesn’t have the resources for focus groups?
Fortunately, rather than conducting your own research at the expense of a scientist in a lab, there is a vast amount of free and low-cost market data available to businesses if you know where to look.
Bring on the internet
The Internet has presented businesses with a wealth of additional data gathering resources to conduct and source relevant market research.
Many businesses deploy web-based tools to let customers make purchases, check records for shipments and access information about products and product applications. Over time, such customer interactions create an extensive database in which customer profiles can be analysed.
However, it’s not all about just tracking the existing events. But rather projecting what ‘could’ eventuate. Every organisation would love to ‘know’ exactly what their customers are thinking.
Market research tools to be used
When the word ‘free’ begins a sentence, people initiate two common responses: “That’s for me; I’m all about free” or “What is this actually going to cost me? Nothing is free!”
With that in mind, here are some free online tools available that can come in handy when gathering the information as part of your marketing research. Each online market research tool also offers a suite of priced applications depending on your requirements.
Google Trends and Google Alerts: Knowing the majority of people who occupy the internet use Google as a search engine, Google Trends have captured the data and formatted it into a comprehensive graphical display to make it easier to understand. Estimation of market demand and possible competition can be drawn from this data. In addition, Google Alerts can be configured to notify you when a ‘buzzword’ you are tracking hits the web.
LinkedIn: It’s like looking at a giant human resource data base containing a record of members work history, skill set, aspiration and more importantly company hiring/ firing trends. This will aid a current company’s ability to analyse direct competitor growth trends, supplier connections and leadership changes.
SimilarWeb: SimilarWeb provides services in market Intelligence, web analytics, data mining and business intelligence. It uses big data technologies to collect, measure, analyse and provide user engagement statistics for websites and mobile apps. The ability to search for a multitude of websites (including your own), enables a company to gauge the comparison of net traffic between yourself and competitors. This data is ideal for benchmarking.
Google Analytics: A web analytics service offered that tracks and reports website traffic, specifying the exact areas of interest and the associated duration, Google Analytics is now the most widely used web analytics service on the Internet. Google Analytics is offered also in two additional versions: a subscription based Google Analytics Premium targeted at enterprise users and Google Analytics for Mobile Apps, an SDK that allows gathering usage data from iOS and Android Apps.
ShareMetric: ShareMetric is a browser extension that loads social media share counts, link metrics and organic search visibility metrics for the current browser URL. The total sum of share counts for all of the social networks (listed below) are loaded into the icon badge, as well as a drop down menu that displays a full list of metrics. They can be enabled or disabled individually.
Market research is crucial for product positioning, competitor analysis and planning for the future. But rather than investing in a market research department or a scientist in a lab, a little resourcefulness goes a long way towards greater marketing effectiveness.
You won’t have to major in Statistics to make sense of the data either.