Using Google Search Can Help You Save on Market Research Costs: Here’s How

by Linda Pophal

All marketers know how important it is to understand their target audience so they can effectively craft messages and select communication channels that will most appeal to them and move them to some desired action.

The Value of Primary Research

Marketers can realize significant value by conducting primary research to help them better understand their market’s needs, preferences and opinions. Research can reveal their level of awareness of your company and its products or services relative to competitors, the extent to which they understand what you have to offer, how their preference for your offerings compares to competitive offerings, and much, much more.

Primary research can be very expensive though. It’s important to consider why the research needs to be done and the bottom-line value of the information being attained. Deciding whether to conduct primary research is directly related to the magnitude of the decision to be made.

For instance, if you are considering entering a new market with brick and mortar locations, you’ll want to know what your potential market share might be and how your offerings stack up against competitors. Primary research is likely well-advised for such a costly decision.

On the other hand, if you were interested in learning how consumers might respond to the addition of a product to your affiliate marketing program, the decision is very low risk. Rather than conduct primary research you might decide to offer the product in your next digital campaign and monitor sales.

For companies that don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in market research, there are less costly ways to gather information. Online surveys, for example, that can be done very quickly and inexpensively. Focus groups could be used to gather qualitative insights from customers, potential customers, customers of competitors or others. Either can readily be done for under $10,000.

You May Already Have Insight

Your company likely already has resources that can yield important customer insights. Your sales staff, for instance, who are on the front lines and have firsthand knowledge of customer needs, preferences and pain points.

There are also some very low cost/no cost options that can yield insights that may either be acted upon or used as the basis for more extensive research. The amount of time and money you invest will be related to the importance, or risk, of the decision you are making.

In fact, sometimes marketers can learn more from foregoing market research entirely and learning from the responses they actually receive from a marketing effort. The cost of the campaign is likely to be far less than, and certainly no more than, conducting primary research and you’ll have the benefit of actual results (rather than an indication of how consumers might respond).

For instance:

  • Testing various offers through targeted ads on Google or various social media channels—pay a little; learn a lot
  • Doing an email blast to various list segments testing different appeals, headlines, copy, etc.
  • Using Google Search Console to evaluate organic website traffic and the keywords driving that traffic

Here’s another idea that you may not have considered: using Google search to find out what people are searching for that might be related to the products or services you have to offer. Here’s an example of how that might work.

Gleaning Insights From Google Search

Suppose you’re a bank and you’d like to better understand consumer needs. You might enter a search phrase like: “Why won’t my bank…” The results will yield some concerns that consumers have. In this case, based on the most searched items:















So, here you have an indication that consumers would like the ability to link to Venmo and Earnin, use Apple Pay, link to PayPal, etc.—options that, if you’re not already offering, you might consider offering based on this indication of a high level of interest.

Hopefully, you get the picture. How could you spend a little time online considering how common searches might provide meaningful insights about what matters to your audience?

While the results you can gather from this exercise are not statistically significant, they do provide some good idea starters for the types of needs, interests and preferences that your audience may have. And, of course, there are a wide range of keyword tools that you could use to drill down even more precisely by geography and other demographics. You can even see what search terms drive traffic to your competitors’ sites.

Check it out. You may be surprised by what you learn and the new directions these insights might suggest for your marketing communication efforts or more extensive research to help make important decisions.

The bottom line: make sure any research you do results in actionable answers to help direct your marketing efforts.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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