Gathering and studying data is an important part of finding your target market. In fact, that’s usually where you find reliable information about your customer base and ultimately decide if your idea is a viable one.
The internet is packed full of data and tools, which can be overwhelming at times.
If you are just starting out, you may consider paying a market researcher or an online service to gather your statistics, but you should first look into other avenues. There are great free tools and resources available to conduct research online and obtain data.
In this article we will cover three free tools you can use to research your customers:
- Google Trends
- Social Media & Online Forums
1. Google Trends
A quick and easy keyword search will tell you a lot about what people are looking for. It will also give you an insight about what is on trend at a particular time and whether or not you are using the right keywords to market your business. This way, you can also get a look into the prospective size of your market. If a lot of people are searching, you may have a larger market. If not, you can either restructure your marketing strategy to be more niche-focused or reevaluate how you will market your business to be more in tune with the trends that are happening.
For example, if no one is searching “Lawn mowers subscription” you can pivot your marketing to be more on trend so people can find your business easily.
2. Social Media and Online Forums
Thanks to the use of hashtags, you can search almost any post worldwide about a certain topic. If you are wondering if people are searching for a solution to a problem or if there is a healthy generation of posts or content with hashtags related to your business. You can use this method to search for any content or topics discussed on just about every social media platform online.
Facebook groups and other social media platforms will tell you about your audience’s interests and hobbies. If you have a business account on Facebook, the Facebook Audience Insights tool will break down your current audience information. Keeping an eye out on common trends, comments and reactions to topics will also provide a helpful insight as to how a potential market may perceive what you offer.
Online forums are also helpful. They give more of an insight through in depth discussions and niche interests within a community. A great forum to look into is Reddit.
3. Reddit-How to Use It
Reddit can seem overwhelming at first as there are many sub-communities and activities going on. When used correctly, there is a lot of helpful and free information available.
Reddit has a few helpful tools for market research. Users vote to make a post move up in the forum which tells you how many people agree with that idea or concept within the community. Using our lawn mowing example, if a post about how lawn mowers are breaking down has more votes, it can tell you about a problem within the community and how you may be able to solve it.
Since Reddit is such a large forum, finding your audience or forum can be difficult. Luckily, the platform has some built in tools to facilitate your search. You can use the Subreddit search tool to search keywords related to your business. Once you find the forum that is related, look at the activity, subject matter and size of the participating audience. Much like google search, you can perform a keyword search in the forum as well.
Reddit is also a great place to find inspiration for ideas overall. Look for common subjects or unanswered questions that can give you an insight to the problems other people have and how to solve them.
Join the CoLab INC community to get more tips about starting and running an effective business
About Raitchele Cornett
Raitchele (Hi-Chel-Ee) is from Curitba, Brazil, and grew up around entrepreneurs and business moguls.
Raitchele is a Boise State Alum and MBA Student with a passion for entrepreneurship.