How to do Cost Effective Marketing Research in 2019

Crystal DeCnodderBlog, Marketing, So Sharable!

To create a remarkable and memorable online presence, you will have to educate, inform, delight and inspire your audience. Whether you’re part of an exciting start-up, in a new role as a marketing manager or ready to proactively market your brand, our low cost (but effective) market research guide will give you a great foundation to understand your target market. It will help lay the initial foundation for an effective marketing strategy.

Over the past ten years Full Blast Creative developed a proven framework for launching brands online. Our framework has been poured over thousands of times and reiterated and revised as new platforms, tactics and tools have emerged. It’s our pleasure to share our approach and expertise as it relates to market research and to help you take your new or re-imagined brand to market.

Let’s jump in!

Marketing Research and Discovery

It’s not uncommon to rush through the research and discovery phase of a marketing project. People find marketing research daunting or even boring, especially when compared to the fun you can have creating and launching your campaigns. Unfortunately, doing your market research is absolutely crucial to help ensure that what you put together will actually make an impression on your target market.

Simply put, without putting in the labour and the extra hours of consideration and practise, your show won’t shine. You have to examine every detail of your performance, from all angles and in all lights, then apply the final touches and details that make your story and passion connect with your audience.

That said, not all audiences have the same tastes or qualities. You can expect that a broad audience will be made up of people with both compliments and critiques. For this reason, we always start our research and strategy phase by examining your most important assets – your people. This includes both your prospective customers as well as your in-house team who will be responsible for deploying your 2019 marketing strategy.

Marketing Strategy

Understanding Your People – Exploring and Researching Your Target Market

There are a number of expensive research firms, strategies and research softwares you can buy to help you with your market research, but if you’re just starting out, you should do your best to keep your costs lean. We recommend the following free or low cost marketing research tools to help you best discover the audience that will most likely be interested in your products or services.

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1. Facebook Audience Insights – Free Tool

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Facebook Audience Insights helps you to explore customer insights on Facebook and Instagram. You can discover important aggregated information about your customers including their geography, demographics, page likes, interests, how active they are on Facebook and what their purchase behaviours are like.

Because your brand is just getting started, it’s unlikely that you’ll have enough of a following connected to your Facebook page to analyze your current customers. This is okay because you can look at all of Facebook’s data. Exploring the entire Facebook community will help you pin point which cities, age groups and gender you may want to target in your initial strategy.

Bottom line, the more you know about your customers, the better you can target them with meaningful content related to your service or product, tailored to their preferences.

Personally, I like to review the Page Likes and Interests tabs because Facebook shows me which radio station, print publications and local businesses my target audience already enjoys. With this information in mind, I can launch a traditional campaign via print, radio or branded partnerships with local companies my ideal customers already have an affinity for. Sometimes, I also overlap my digital campaign with direct mail campaigns and again, Facebook Audience Insights helps me to determine which communities I should focus on.

If you’ve set up a Facebook Company Page but not a Facebook Ad Account, you won’t have access to Audience Insights.

To navigate to this resource, you will have to set up your Facebook Ad Account first. For the purpose of this guide, let’s assume that Facebook is an ideal platform for your business and that you do intend to run sponsored or promoted ads on the Facebook network.

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  1. Navigate to your Facebook Business Manager
  2. Click on the menu icon in the upper left corner of your screen.
  3. Select Audience Insights underneath the Planning column.
  4. To get started, on the left side, plug in various criteria, for example, the location, the age range and details you already know about your target market. Once the results are in, you’ll find these insights incredibly useful!

GOOGLE TRENDS

Google Trends is a free tool that shares valuable information on Google search queries. It provides up to the minute search information on trending topics, keywords and phrases around the world over time.

I take a look at Google Trends nearly every week. It’s a tool that should become a part of your weekly, monthly and yearly marketing optimizations too.

When working with a new customer, Google Trends can help me determine where their best market is located world-wide, including great insights into their seasonal trends.

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At a glance, I can see which weeks or months of the year are peak season for the customer, and whether interest in their keywords is growing, shrinking or remaining flat over time.

These insights are critical for managing my clients’ budgets and production resources. For example, if I know that the second quarter is a key selling quarter for my customer, I may focus on delivering brand awareness and education during the first quarter to help build trust and an affinity. I’ll then go hard on content, ad spend and conversion strategies during the second quarter where that strong trust and affinity pays off in quick sales and conversions.

An additional super benefit to Google Trends is that the data can be downloaded into a CSV file so I can actually track and organize my results. I make a habit of downloading the weekly searches then identifying key weeks over time that require extra focus or a curated strategy to make the most of the opportunity all year long.

Trending Topics and Content Creation

Google Trends also provides insight into the topics captivating the world, which you can then drill down to a country, region or city (assuming there is enough search volume.) If generating memes and pop-culture references are a part of your content strategy, Google Trends will point you in the right direction.

For example, looking at the graphic below I can see the trending memes on the day I wrote this post includes the Smoking Gun meme, Steph Curry moon meme, and so on. I can also see that searches for memes peak between 7-9pm MST and so I may take my content and make sure it’s published during key times the public is online for leisure and entertainment.

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3. Google Analytics – Free Tool

Okay, so if you just launched your website, Google Analytics won’t have a lot of value to add at first. But, as people visit your site, they will contribute to a resource that can help you understand the ongoing consumer journey. For the purpose of this article, let’s assume you have a few days or weeks of data or more to work with.

  1. Navigate to Audience
  2. Select Demographics – this gives you age and gender of your on site traffic.
  3. Now click down to Interests and open up ‘In-Market Segments.’

Marketing Research and Discovery

In Market Audiences

An In-Market Audience is composed of people who are actively searching and comparing your products or services.

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When reading your in-market audience data, try and think about how your customers might search for a business like yours. For me, I try to imagine what my customers might search for if they wanted to select a marketing agency to work with.

I assume they would probably start with a Google search of local marketing or advertising companies, they would probably read up on a couple of recent reviews, they might click into a few sites and check out their blogs or resources, or they might even do a Google search on what to ask an agency during an initial interview – all of this activity is tracked by Google by firing or triggering Google “cookies.”

When a cookie is triggered, it indicates to Google that the user is a qualified candidate for the “Business Services/Advertising and Marketing Services” In-Market audience.

It’s important to note, In Market audiences are ephemeral or temporary. This means that this audience won’t be useful for a long duration. This makes a lot of sense when you stop to think about it. Just because I’m searching for a marketing agency today, doesn’t mean I will be searching for an agency one month from now.

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Affinity Audiences

Affinity audiences are a bit different. Affinity audiences look at an individual’s overall interests, activities, and lifestyle overtime to get a better sense of their overall identity.

Users who fall into the affinity audience likely haven’t searched for your business or specific products but they may have a natural liking or attraction to what you have to offer. Affinity categories are based on online patterns or can be based on the user sharing a close resemblance or connection to someone who would be interested in your products and services.

It will help to think of Affinity Audiences as individuals who have a general, long-standing interest for a specific Affinity Segment. This user may not have searched for my marketing company but based on their browsing habits, they are very interested in in social media marketing or digital strategies and he or she is likely to make contact if they see the right ad.

Bouncing back to your strategy, reviewing your In-Market audiences will help you think about the strategy or content needs to capture an audience likely to buy in a short window. Looking at Affinity audiences will help you think about the strategy and content needs to introduce your brand to.

4. Keywords Tools (Google AdWords)

Google’s Keyword Planner is easy to use and can help you validate a business idea as well as demand for your products or service.

You will have to set up a Google AdWords account then visit: https://ads.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/

First, click on ‘Find New Keywords’ and enter a keyword you think people will use to search for a business like yours. Think of a list of commonly used search terms and phrases your customers might use.

Again, try and think exactly like your customer. What would he or she type in to find a business like yours?

For example, for my marketing company, my list might start with:

  • digital marketing company
  • marketing firm
  • marketing agency
  • marketing companies

Now I can see how many searches happen for each keyword, as well as how competitive these keywords are (with a range of low to high), and of course additional suggestions I may not have considered.

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By looking at these search terms, I can start to formulate which keywords I should focus on first as I build out my website content, social content, Google AdWords campaigns, and sharable resources my target audience might enjoy or expect to see on my site. I can also get a sense of how competitive these keywords are in a local market and start to focus on a highly local, highly relevant SEO strategy.

Conclusions

Marketing Research doesn’t have to be overly expensive or complicated. There are some terrific, free tools that only require setting up your account and spending your time being curious about the trends you’re sure to discover.

If you’d like to learn more about market research and the best tools for market research, or if you’d like to learn more about using market research for local strategies, please connect with Full Blast Creative!

About the Author

Crystal DeCnodder

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Crystal DeCnodder is a keynote speaker, social media, and digital marketing expert and is a partner at Full Blast Creative, a creative digital marketing and web design agency in Calgary, Alberta. When Crystal is AFK, she enjoys skateboarding, guitar, travel, and time with family and friends.