7 Market Research Hacks Using Free Google Tools

During the past one and a half year of heading up a Marketing Intelligence team at iZettle, I have had the privilege to get immersed into the world of Google and getting to know a variety of data tools they provide. Many of them are public, free for anyone to use, and if used creatively they can reveal quite a lot about a market. So whether you are looking into expanding into a new market, expand your product offering or start up a whole new business - here’s 7 ways you can use the free Google toolbox to acquire valuable market data before you enter it.

1. Getting to Know the Market with Key Word Planner

Key Word Planner is primarily a tool use in conjunction with support Google Adwords, for marketers to set the bidding strategy for different key words. That said, it can be used in more ways than just deciding what words to spend money on. One clear benefit with using Google search data is that it never lies. What we post on social media is public, but what we search for on Google reveals our true behaviour. Therefore it is rather interesting to play around with Key Word Planner, to understand what people actually search for, what phrases they use and what related topics could be interesting. Here are three ways you can use Key Word Planner for market research purposes:

  • Find related topics: Key Word Planner gives you suggestions of related key words and search terms that could be of relevance to you. Some of them might be very straight forward, however some might be surprising and reveal something completely new to you. For example, let’s say you want to provide fitness classes online. Typing in “fitness class” into Key Word Planner shows that “zumba”, “hiit workout” and “body pump” could be a pretty good start!

  • Understand the maturity of the market: Key Word Planner gives you an estimated search volume per month for the respective key word/search term. Before you enter a market it is worth having a look into the search volume, as that gives an indication of the maturity of the market. If there is no search volume it could indicate that either there is not a market for it - OR that there is an opportunity however you have to be prepared to educate the market.

  • Understand how fierce the competition is: How expensive it is to bid on certain words/search terms gives you an indication of how fierce the competition is. If it is expensive, it could be an indication that the competition is fierce - whilst at the same time being a mature and in some cases lucrative market. If there is a high search volume on certain search terms that are still rather cheap, it could either be an indication that there is a market opportunity OR that there are barriers to entry in the market that does not make it lucrative to enter. Either way, playing around in Key Word Planner gives you a hint of what questions to look further into.

2. Understanding Seasonality Using Google Trends

Another fun tool to play around in is Google trends. What it does is that it visualises the amount of searches for a certain word or term over time. You can also compare it to other search words, for example if you want to compare your own company to a competitor. Here’s three ways you can use Google trends for market research:

  • Understand seasonality: If you look into your key words and see a clear spike during a certain period of time, then that is an indication that you should not miss out on that peak period. Find out the reason why the searches spike, and act on it.

  • Understand market development: Is the search term steadily increasing, or decreasing? Is the search term following a certain yearly trend, or is it unpredictable? Find out why, and act on it.

  • Find the big events: Are conferences or exhibitions important to your business? Entering a new market and have no idea where to start? Type in the word of your industry + exhibition to find out the spikes during the year. If there are three clear spikes, it most likely means there are three big industry events of the year. Find out which ones, and make an appearance.

To give an easy example, let’s say you sell emoji pillows and want to compare it to other emoji products. The graph indicates that there is on average a higher demand for emoji cakes, apart from just before Christmas. So if you are into the emoji pillow business - make sure you’re ready for Christmas season.

3. Stay on Top of the Latest with Google Alerts

A good way to stay on top of what is happening within your industry of interest is to set up Google Alerts for specific key words in the markets you would like to get alerts from. It is an easy to use feature which notify you, on email, whenever something new has been published online for the key word you've set up that you'd like to monitor. You set it up within seconds and you decide how often you would like to be notified. Google then automatically sends you alerts with links related your chosen key words whenever something new has been published online. This is a great way to keep track of competitors, what people are saying about your company, the latest happening within a certain industry as well as getting new insights about a market.

4. Don’t Know what Your Customers will Think? Ask Them!

A relatively new tool Google provide is Google Consumer Surveys. Basically it is an easy to use online consumer survey tool, with good targeting possibilities. This one you pay for the number of respondents, however compared to other tools out there this one is a rather cheap “do it yourself” tool. So if you are interested in finding out the market opportunity for a certain product in a market, why not set up a simple demo video and ask your target audience open ended questions like “What do you think a product like this could be used for?” and “How would you use this product?”. By asking open ended questions you get a hint of their spontaneous reactions. It may also reveal new areas of product usage you have not thought of. Note that this can not be compared to proper user interviews conducted by expert User Researchers, nevertheless it can give quick and cheap indications of where to look further.

5. Get New Market Entry Suggestions Using Google Market Finder

A tool that is not so well-known, is the Google Global Market Finder. You enter the website address of your company and Google will then extrapolate business areas from your website that they think you operate within. Based on that, it will give you suggestions of markets that could be of interest for you to enter. As easy as that. Below you see a screenshot of the first market suggestions when I typed in the website of a famous clothing brand. Again, this can of course not be trusted blindly, but rather give you an indication of what other markets that could be of interest to look further into.

6. Find Market Opportunities Using Answer the Public

This one is actually not a tool provided by Google, however they use Google search data to visualise similar key phrases related to a certain key word in a very neat way. To use an easy example, let’s again say you sell emoji pillows. Simply typing in the word “emoji pillow” into answerthepublic.com gives you some interesting insights. It seems like people are looking for emoji pillows in Sri Lanka, South Africa and the Philippines to name a few places. Also, there seems to be extra demand for emoji pillows with the poop emoji, the emoji in love and the emoji with glasses. A simple example, but it gives you and idea of how you can use the tool.

7. Find General Consumer Behaviour Data using Google Insights

Google provides two tools for analysing general consumer behaviour - the Consumer Barometer and Think With Google. In the Consumer Barometer you can, for example, use their interactive Graph Builder and apply filters of interest, to get graphs on consumer internet behaviour for the specific markets you are interested in. In Think with Google you can find all sorts of market insights, research and case studies. Simply a good place to look for inspiration!

Liked the topic? Stay tuned as next up is “7 data hacks to find new growth marketing opportunities”.