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Why online market research tools will help your business

Market research is an essential best practice to help a business succeed. In a digital, data-focused world, online market research tools help companies quickly assess the market and gather real-time information about competitors, target customers and their preferences, product performance, similar products, and business trends.

It’s also a way to monitor distribution channels, pricing, successful regions, and overseas expansion of similar products. Here is why online market research will help a business succeed and some examples of tools that can be used for it.

Target market metrics

Before going to the expense of developing products and marketing any services your company provides, it’s essential to understand the likes, needs, and behaviors of your target customer. Online tools, both free and paid, can help you collect data about their behaviors, past purchases, demographics, average household income, purchase of similar products, and so forth.

Online data is collected based on anonymous information about customer purchases and is presented in aggregate. This higher-level view gives businesses a broader understanding of activity across a category of consumers. The goal is to use this data to customize product and service development and better tailor marketing messages and platforms for reaching those customers.

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Branding surveys

Strategic market research before launching a product line can help your business determine how to brand and market the product. It’s also useful after a product has launched to uncover how customers are responding to the branding and marketing.

Even if a product is excellent, the product name might not fit what customers are looking for. Or, the branding might not be appropriate for a particular region or category of customer. Online market research in the form of surveys and monitoring of customer behavior can illustrate how successful a business’s branding is.

Website analytics

There are numerous online analytics tools that monitor website performance and customer activity within your own business. This is where a company can monitor the choices and duration of time customers and potential customers spend considering and purchasing its products.

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Social media 

Various online tools measure performance on social media platforms and gather data about customer behavior, tracking likes, mentions, and reposts. That way, businesses can track customer behavior in real time and on a more detailed level, gauging their response and interest in the company’s products.

Social media tracking is an effective online method to study customers and market response. Companies can follow other accounts and monitor customer behavior with other companies’ products as well.

Keyword research

Online tools such as Google Analytics are powerful engines for studying the patterns of keyword searching for products. They show the frequency that certain words are typed and the profile of users who search using those words. These tools also review if a company’s target keywords are in fact leading their business to their target customers. This data can help a business pivot its strategy and choose different words if needed.

Market potential

In addition to studying customers, businesses should carefully review the broader market to gauge response to their suite of products and track financial performance of similar companies. Online market research tools sold by vendors, as well as media companies, are timely sources of this data.

Market potential is demonstrated through the profits of public companies, as well as anecdotal media reports. These metrics show competitor strengths and potential and help inform a company’s own product strategy.

Online market research that’s done ahead of time helps reduce the risk of product development and launch, and will increase the return on investment. It’s an investment of time at the outset, and should also be conducted throughout the life cycle of the product to monitor customer response.

Money paid by the customer isn’t the only data point to consider. Customer behaviors, such as whether they return to the company and order replacement products, post on social media, and frequently engage with the business, are additional nuanced metrics that can more deeply inform business strategy and support long-term revenue growth.

Online market research can be approached from various angles and using many different types of tools, both before product launch and throughout the life of the product. Combined, they can lead to a powerful business strategy that supports product longevity, brand recognition, and customer loyalty.

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Jennifer Lindahl
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jennifer Lindahl is an experienced writer and editor with two decades of experience in journalism, public policy, and B2B…
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