- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On August 27, 2014
- Market research
Did you know you have free access to a great market research tool?
Yes, actually you do. It certainly levels the playing field for small businesses. It’s free. OK it takes your time for sure, but you don’t need to hire Don Draper’s associates to run fancy focus groups for you.
The tool is none other than Google Adwords. And it’s yours for nothing. Zero. Zip.
Google Adwords for market research?
Yes, it seems odd to suggest you should use a tool for placing online ads as a market research tool but you can.
You see you can go into Google Adwords and get reports on what people type in to this amazingly popular machine called Google (the search engine that is–it’s popular with 153,441,000 unique visitors per month in the US alone [source: Go-Gulf].)
Google wants you to see these reports to encourage you to place ads that you pay them to run but you can also use this data to inform you about your market. If people are typing in a phrase into a search engine that implies they are looking for it. And if they are looking for it they may need it or even be willing to pay for it!
Some of these searches are purely information gathering. They may give you a sense that people are trying to figure out a problem (e.g. “my leg is hurting”) but other searches focus on finding a solution, which can translate into buying a product or service (e.g. “doctors that can fix legs”.)
By the numbers
The search volumes you see in Adwords are approximate and the lower numbers are a little suspect in absolute terms but the relative volume of one search versus another is pretty relevant. So if people are searching for a particular product a lot (e.g. “iPhone 5s”) vs. not searching for it in low volumes (e.g. “Blackberry 10”) then you can legitimately deduce that the high volume product is more popular.
Words of caution
Realistically accessing Google Adwords does not mean you can throw out all other forms of market research such as questionnaires, interviews and focus groups but it does give you a very inexpensive and convenient way to start.
And another great tool
Also if you’re already involved in this business area you can take a look at the terms being reported by your Google Analytics software.
You see what terms people are typing in to search engines to get to your own website. These terms can inform your research too. Like Google Adwords, Google Analytics if also free!
Note: these days many search phrases will not show up on your Google Analytics reports as Google has encrypted it’s search data but you will still see data that comes from Bing and Yahoo searches.
If you do go ahead with a particular offering based on your market research you get some bonuses from your time doing Adwords research.
- Bonus #1: you now know how people search for your kind of business. Often they don’t use the words you assume they use. They don’t know the jargon in your industry so often they search using words other than those you would use to find yourself. So now you can use the words your potential customers use in your marketing and your results will be better.
- Bonus #2: if you use the words your customers use in your website this is called SEO. If you do SEO, you can increase the traffic to your website. More traffic can equal more sales.
So if you’d like to conduct some market research for your small business, hop onto Google Adwords and take a look at what people are searching for. Or use other great tools that do a similar thing like Wordtracker. It’s cheaper than Madison Avenue.