When it comes to business, you always want to save as much money as you can without sacrificing quality. Luckily, good quality doesn’t always mean expensive. Market research is one of the most important aspects of running a business, so it’s not an area you should be skimping on when it comes to effectiveness.
Fortunately, with the advent of the internet, market research has become easier than ever before. These market research tools are both budget-friendly and proven, so it’s a great idea to use them in your business if you aren’t already.
Cost: Free basic account with paid Select, Gold, and Platinum accounts
What it is: Customer feedback is a valuable asset that every company can benefit from. Surveys are an effective way to get feedback, and Survey Monkey lets you conduct surveys for free. With a basic account you can ask up to ten questions per survey, and receive 100 responses per survey. If you want unlimited questions and responses, the paid options are pretty inexpensive. All customers, free and paid, receive free 24/7 email support.
Uses: Use Survey Monkey to get feedback on things like website user experience, customer service experience, and your checkout process. If necessary, experiment with offering incentives to customers who take your survey such as discounts and free merchandise.
Blogs and Forums
What they are: Online blogs and forums are a wealth of consumer information, and perhaps one of the most overlooked sources of market data. Since people regularly use the internet to share their thoughts, you can find a lot of feedback by reading up on top niche blogs and forums in your industry. Just go to Google and type in “[[your industry]] blog” or “[[your industry]] forum.” For instance, if Mary sells hamster supplies at HamstersRus.com, she might do a Google search for “hamster care forums” and find the largest hamster owners’ forum on the web. Mary spends some time reading the various threads, and notices the same complaint being repeated over and over: the hamsters keep chewing their plastic water and food bowls to pieces. Mary then gets the idea to offer stainless steel water and food bowls in her online store, therefore addressing a common pain point for hamster owners.
- Read competitor blogs to get an idea of their products and services.
- Read blog comments and forum posts to find out your customers’ pain points.
- Brainstorm ideas for blog posts, ebooks, and other articles based on user comments and conversations.
- Interact with other users (in a non-salesy way) to get answers to questions you may have about your customer base.
What is it: Google Trends is a free tool that provides insights into search trends based on Google’s vast database. It shows the relative popularity of specific keywords or topics over time.
- It can be used to identify emerging trends, understand consumer interests, compare the popularity of different search terms, and explore regional or demographic variations in search behavior.
Price: Google Trends is free to use.
Price: Qualtrics offers a free version with limited features, and pricing for paid plans is available upon request.
What is it: Qualtrics Research Core is a comprehensive survey platform that allows users to create and distribute surveys to collect data and gain insights.
- Customer satisfaction surveys
- Employee engagement surveys
- Market research
- Academic research
- Product testing.
What is it: Social Mention is a real-time social media search and analysis tool. It provides insights into the mentions of specific keywords or brands across various social media platforms.
Uses: It can be used to monitor brand sentiment, track social media mentions, identify influencers, and analyze trends in real-time.
What is it: Facebook Audience Insights provides demographic and behavioral data about Facebook users. It helps businesses understand their target audience better.
Uses: It can be used to identify target demographics, refine ad targeting, explore consumer interests, and gain insights for content strategy.
Price: LinkedIn Insights is free to use, but LinkedIn also offers premium plans with additional features and insights.
What is it: LinkedIn Insights provides data and analytics about LinkedIn’s professional user base. It offers insights into professionals and businesses relevant to your research.
Uses: It can be used for B2B market research, competitor analysis, talent acquisition, and industry trend analysis.
Price: Ubersuggest offers a free version with limited features, as well as a premium plan starting at $29 per month.
What is it: Ubersuggest is a free keyword research tool that provides data on search volume, keyword difficulty, content ideas, and competitor analysis to optimize online presence.
Uses: It can be used to identify relevant keywords for SEO, analyze competitor strategies, generate content ideas, and improve search engine rankings.
What is it: Reddit is a social news aggregation and discussion platform with various communities (subreddits) covering almost any topic. It offers valuable insights through user discussions and interactions.
Use Cases: It can be used to conduct informal market research, understand consumer sentiment, identify emerging trends, and gather feedback on products or services.
- Analytics software like Google Analytics and Clicky can give you a clear picture of how visitors interact with your website. Use analytics to find your most popular pages, your entry pages, exit pages, and what keywords people use to find your website.
- Keyword research tools allow you to optimize your website with keywords that your customers are searching for. You can see lists of related keywords, thus eliminating the need to guess at what terms are bringing in site visitors.
- Zoom Prospector is a free tool for companies looking to expand to a new location. Use Zoom Prospector to locate the best area for your new location or branch based on demographic information provided by individual communities.
- BizStats gives you free access to a database of business statistics and financial ratios across different industries. Just use the various filters to find what you’re looking for. You’ll also find financial calculators and other business tools.
As mentioned before, free and low cost don’t necessarily mean low quality. Market research has come a long way from the days when focus groups and pen-and-paper surveys were the only options. The interactive web has made it possible to both offer and find information that companies need to grow.
The internet is an open source of valuable information just waiting to be mined. All you need is the right tools and a good idea of where to start digging.