Depending on what you’re marketing, you’ll definitely want to keep your hand on the pulse of what your target customers are paying attention to as well as what they are buying. This means that you will almost certainly need to do as much marketing research as your resources will allow. For smaller companies this may not be an option to spend capital on research. If that is the case with your company, you’ll need to consider some low cost alternatives to hiring a research firm. Fortunately, the web can provide you with both conventional and unconventional resources that will assist you in getting your arms around what is happening in your market.
One of the easiest ways to find out what potential buyers might be interested in is to visit and read industry related online forums. It is here that forum members ask specific questions about things that they are struggling with. In some cases, these questions can represent product design opportunities. In other cases, they represent opportunities to add relevant services. In most cases they represent opportunities to engage customers by providing helpful education and information to help them find relief to their situation. By inviting customers to an educational opportunity, you’ll then have the chance to invite them to your mailing list or database.
Another low-to-no cost method of conducting market research is to use trend and popularity information on sites such as Amazon.Com.Au and Ebay.Com.Au. Sites like these always provide “best seller” or “most popular” information to site visitors. You can use this site to determine what the public is willing to purchase to meet their needs. If you can use this information to determine the trends in the marketplace, you’ll have real research from those who have committed to make purchases already.
Most internet marketers utilize Google’s statistical information found in the “trends” section as well as their “Adwords keyword tool”. However, this information is available to anyone willing to use these two sections of the site. Google’s statistical information will tell you what people are searching for when they’re coming to the site.
Additionally, users can find specific information about certain keywords and related terms. For instance, you could research the term “pergolas” to find out how many people are searching for them. At the same time you’ll also find out what other terms people are using related to it. An example of a related term here would be “buy a pergola”, “pergola kits” or “pergola design”.
Interestingly you can also use the site, YouTube.Com.Au in the same manner. YouTube.Com.Au is the second most popular search engine next to Google. This is because when people are looking for a visual example of how to solve a problem, they often turn to YouTube. This makes YouTube a good indication of the kind of dilemmas that people are looking to solve themselves with help from peripheral purchases. YouTube provides searchers with its own section on the Google “Trends” site as well as its own keyword tool.
If you use these websites to “reverse engineer” the research process, you will understand how people vote with their time and money. Even if you were to decide to pay a firm to do your market research for you; it would be a good idea to keep your eye on trends from these perspectives. You may find that this data is telling you something different from what formal research might tell you, and give you reason to further investigate the results.