Six Free Ways to Gather Information on Customer Trends for Your Business

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When you run an online startup, investing heavily in market research can give you a significant advantage. Using the right customer research tools will let you continue to identify, connect with, and serve your ideal customers. If you’re not sure where to begin, these free methods can help you gain some preliminary insights, so that you can maximize the returns of investing in advanced analysis.

Google Alerts

Even marketing professionals can sometimes miss out on the potential offered by this free Google app. Setting up an alert lets you specify a keyword or phrase which Google then scouts for as it constantly indexes web content, sending you a notification in the process. The process is as simple as it sounds, and involves minimal effort on your part. You can easily track mentions of your business, products, industry influencers and competitors, as well as any other important keywords you’d like to monitor.

Google Analytics

Another useful and free tool (in its basic form) from the search engine giant, Google Analytics can deliver a lot of useful insights into your business. Once you’ve set it up, you can access reports on user behavior on your website, down to specific pages viewed and duration spent. Ecommerce tagging even lets you analyze buyer behavior on your site with the addition of some code. Geographical data is also available, and you can use the data to optimize your marketing strategy and determine which efforts are more (or less) cost-effective.

YouTube Analytics

An increasing number of businesses are taking to video content to drive engagement with their online consumers, and if you’re a small business doing the same, it’s likely that some of your content is hosted on YouTube. The site’s free analytics can reveal a lot of information about the users who are watching your videos; age, gender, and location are all shown on the report. You can also view retention rate, which tells you how much time they actually spend watching, and make any corresponding adjustments to your strategy.

Social media

Different social media platforms also offer native analytics features, such as Facebook or Instagram Insights. These let you gather data from customers who engage with your accounts on these platforms. However, the information gained in this way can be limited. If you want to know more about customer trends beyond those who interact with you on social media, you’ll need to invest more effort into curating your feed and tracking trends within and across networks.

Industry publications

High quality content

Your mileage may vary with the nature of your business or industry, but sometimes government institutions or independent organizations will conduct and release reports which provide relevant, in-depth insight. Reports may come out only once per quarter or year, but the information can prove vital in the long term. Not all of this research is free, but sometimes you can get access in exchange for simply signing up to a mailing list, for instance.

Store and purchase patterns

If you run a physical retail store, free information about your customer behavior could be easily accessed by monitoring their movement and purchase patterns within the premises. Taking things a step further, if you’ve developed a business app, customers who have it installed and connect to your store WiFi can be a source of valuable cross-channel data.

These options can give you a substantial pool of data to work with. From there, it’s important to move beyond insights focused solely on your business, and start investing in data analysis within a competitive context so your business can not only survive, but progress to the next level.

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