Marketing research is the process of gathering information about products and consumers that aids you in connecting with your customers to provide them with the products and services they want and need. Effective marketing research can help your business keep one step ahead of your competitors.
Market research enables you to learn from the consumer and find out exactly what you can do to meet their needs. Gathering and analyzing all this data is no easy task, but the techniques below can help you gain more insight into the consumers’ needs.
Keyword Research — You can find out a lot of information about your market area just by going to a search engine and typing in relevant keywords. By doing a keyword search, you can find out the exact phrases and words people are using to find sites in your market area. You can also find out how many times those phrases are used per month, what keywords your competitors are using, and how many websites there are for those particular keywords. You can use your research to refine your keywords and enable more people to find your site.
Study Competitors — Always keep an eye on your competitors. Study their sites, their ordering process, their promotions and marketing methods. Do a customer service experiment by contacting them through their form or e-mail address and see how they handle your questions, comments, feedback, etc. Staying on top of your competitors will keep you from falling behind and losing customers.
Online Survey — Surveys are one of the most common methods of market research. By doing online surveys you can find out what consumers are looking for, what they like and don’t like, what keeps them on a website and what makes them leave quickly as well as other valuable information. Keep the survey fairly short so it takes just minutes to complete. Offer a free gift upon completion of the survey.
Discussion Groups — Join groups that involve your area of interest. Take note of information discussed, opinions given and any other information you can take in from the participants of the group. Get involved and offer advice and assistance when you can.
Message Boards — Message boards are similar to discussion groups. Post questions, ideas, thoughts and see how people respond to them. Learning to be a good researcher can mean a lot for your business.
Google Analytics — Google analytics will enable you to learn exactly what people do when they come to your site. What pages do they visit? How long do they stay on each page? From what page do they exit and enter? What days get the most visits? What time of day is the most active? Gathering and analyzing all this data can help you make improvements to your site that could make the difference your business needs to propel forward.
Blogs — Because blogs are usually updated more often and are more interactive than regular sites, take the time to visit blogs to collect information based on the opinions and statements of the blog writers and also the people who leave comments. There are blog specific search engines such as Technorati to help you target the information you need.
Feedback Research — Check with local and online business organizations such as the Better Business Bureau to collect information they have on your business. Also, be sure to add a feedback form to your site. Pay close attention to all feedback and use that information to help your business. Do not dismiss complaints or negative comments. They can offer you tremendous help.
Social Media — Social media sites open up endless possibilities for us to conduct market research. There are many ways you can gain insight into your market area. Track trends, take advantage of real-time opinions and comments and use data to learn how to tweak and refine your marketing strategies. Most social media sites will offer tools and built-in features to allow you to perform your research almost immediately.
Free Tools — The Internet is well-supplied with free tools to help you accomplish your market research effectively. Google offers a free keyword research tool, free analytics, Google Trendsand many more. Many free survey tools such as Survey Monkey are available to help you with your research. Whichever tactic you are using, do a search and you will probably find numerous free tools to help you get it done more quickly and efficiently.
There are many opportunities available online but you will need to know what you are getting into. You also need to know what to do to capture and keep your customers so your business can be a success. Learning how to collect and analyze market research is an important key to accomplishing that goal.
Terri Seymour has more than 15 years of Internet marketing experience and has helped many people start their own businesses. Visit her site for free articles, resources, information, resell eBook business opportunity and more. Subscribe to the RSS feed for her free business building eBook with MRR.