Why are market research tools important? In the last six months, I have spoken to over 20 founders. Some of them head companies which have already reached breakeven, many others are on a high growth curve and the rest are in various stages of a startup’s lifecycle – generating brand awareness, scaling paid user acquisition, or are early in the days of testing out product-market fit. One thing was common in all these talks – how to do great market research.
These companies belong to over 7 different business verticals – from recruitment to eCommerce, marketing SaaS products, travel planning, and more. While each of the conversations was unique by themselves, the one common thread we always touched upon was how to understand the target audience.
As I wrote recently on “4 Basic Points On How to Qualify A Lead“, it is never enough to just say “millennials who are in the first years of their tech jobs” as your target audience. Neither is “people who love to eating out”. We have to understand, the three basic Ws of consumer behaviour: Why, When, Where. Why does a customer need a product? When does she need it the most? Where does she come to know about it or where does she go to buy it?
The answer to all these questions come from solid Market Research, or as I prefer calling it, Customer Discovery. There is a lot that can be said about the basic principles of customer discovery. Perhaps I’ll write about it real soon (good enough reason to subscribe?).
It’s a long and arduous process but one that in my opinion has tremendous ROI. Fortunately, I have come across a number of really helpful market research tools that make it a less painful process. Here are 10 of them I have either personally used at some point in time or have heard great reviews from peers I trust. Take a look!
The Best Market Research Tools Around
1. Consumer Barometer by Google
How can you ever keep the God Father of analytics ever out of this list? Consumer Barometer looks at the How and Where of consumer behaviour. The tool focuses on what roles online resources play in a prospective consumer’s buying journey. It tells you what kind of devices does your target audience use in everyday lives, how they consume online videos and lot of other nifty information such as these.
GutCheck is more of a human solution than an actual tool. They use patent-pending technology to serve up on-demand market research reports. GutCheck’s biggest selling point, in my opinion, is that you can do both scheduled research with them or ask unplanned questions. Their flexible platform is human-moderated who chooses the best applicable methodology and approach to address your research needs.
Validately let’s you protoype features into your product before you actually start building it. It takes your existing product and adds test functionality that you can the use to validate usability and demand hypotheses.
Statista.com is the first statistics portal in the world to integrate over 60,000 diverse topics of data and facts from over 10,000 sources onto a single professional platform.
Categorized into over 20 market sectors, Statista provides business customers, researchers, and the academic community with direct access to relevant quantitative facts on media, finance, politics, and many more areas of interest.
Content is generally free to access; however, given the exclusivity and detail of many statistics, a purchased Premium Account is required to access large parts of the platform. Sources of information include market researchers, trade publications, scientific journals, and government databases.
Proved, which won the 2015 Best New Technology award last year for the Market Research category, lets you test any business idea you might have for an app, website, product or service by opening it up to a community which then provides a quick, unbiased feedback showing if the idea is great or a bust.
The set up takes a few minutes and the community is distributed among 25 countries and 11 languages, hence giving you a choice of demography. There is no subscription, and payment is required only when a test is launched.
The tool is automated and cloud-based. It doesn’t need programming or any integrations. Reports provided are precise, comprehensive and speak the language of the marketer.
If the Facebook Audience Insights tool is not one of your daily go-to tools, you are doing something terribly, terribly wrong. It doesn’t matter whether you like Facebook or not, your customers most likely have spilled all their lives’ secrets in its blue fringed pages.
The tool that gives you critical information regarding a target audience – including a mind-boggling array of professional, life situations (even whether or not you live by yourself or with your parents – yes, Facebook knows that too), consumer behaviour, technology usage and much more.
You would, of course, need to figure out how to effectively use this information to craft your product’s messaging and eventually your advertisement copies to make it all work. This will take time. But when you are getting such useful statistics for free, why not spend some time on it so that you can make the most of it?
As a brief (really brief) summary, here are four things marketers can do with Facebook Audience Insights:
- Build Audience Insights based on users, fans or custom audiences, all from Facebook.
- Based on various demographics and behaviours, narrow down your audience.
- Get acquainted with the various aspects of a target audience’s life such as lifestyle, education, job, designation and compare them to other target audiences that you can create to see where your product fits the best.
- Save the target audience for later and use it for ad targeting.
7. Loop 11
Loop11 is a remote usability testing tool. It is a browser-based solution for professionals, web designers, and web managers so that they can create their own usability testing projects to optimise website usability.
Loop 11 has a 14-day free trial and costs $149 per month when you buy a yearly subscription.
Business Dynamics Statistics (BDS) provides annual measures of establishment births and deaths, firm startups and shutdowns, job creation and destruction, and several other statistics.
It shows sector, state and MSA wise annual statistics on gross job gains and losses. BDS has data from 1976 to 2014. These statistics help determine the business dynamics. Based on data provided by BDS, it can be said that the age and size of the firm are the critical factors. The data derived from BDS helps new firms with insights that help them get through the initial years as well as older firms who try to keep up with the changing economy.
If you are a data nerd like I am, I’m sure you have noticed interesting nuggets of data like how the sale of chocolate goes up during Valentines Day, Easter, Christmas or Halloween. Similarly, how fitness and gym equipment search reach a high just before the New Year.
Think with Google says fitness and wellbeing searches have increased by 40% on mobile devices in the New Year. Yoga had the highest increase in search, almost 91% on Youtube. Gosh so much data!
Various events, festivals and seasonal changes trigger off the sale of certain products or increase the demand of certain services at their wake. The Marketers Almanac uses this trend to capture data and insight from the consumer behaviour during certain moments around the year.
It would be wise to pull up a calendar and highlight all the events and festivals that can boost your sale right away! The Marketers Almanac helps you unearth a treasure trove of consumer behaviour based on Google Search trends and Youtube watch behaviour.
Followerwonk is a great research tool for Twitter marketing strategy and something I have used for years – both for market research and influencer marketing.
To start with, Followerwonk can analyse your followers, find out their location when they tweet, assist you in finding the best influencers in your field and connect with them, and come up with insights that help you figure out your position as compared to others.
As a market research tool, where it gets interesting is that you can pick the biggest influencers in your niche and see what they are talking about and what kind of content are their followers – your prospective customers – are most engaging with. Priceless!
Though it is a tool that applies only to Twitter, it is a useful platform that comes along with a Moz Pro subscription which is pretty great for SEO (although not what I open up my wallet for, more on that some other time).
Have I missed something that you’d put your money on? I’d love to know! Do share in the comments below. Like what you read? Do subscribe above!