Market Research In 2018
This is the latest in the series of “thoughts on business subjects for 2018” topics that I’ve been running.
Today I’ll talk about where to do market research, how to do it and the pros and cons of various places.
Let’s start with my favourite platform for market research.
Reddit is probably the biggest market research tool ever.
There are multiple discussion forums (called subreddits) for every possible interest. If you read that last sentence and thought, “There isn’t one for my interest” and you’ve actually looked, then keep your hobby but don’t expect to make a billion dollars from it.
Reddit is perfect for market research for a few reasons:
- There’s a ton of information – people write at length
- You get curated content for all the big players in any niche (because people share posts)
- You can see the language that people in the niche use, as well as their thought patterns and how they react to commercial content
- It’s possible to see how things are trending. (If you go on a subreddit and all the topics are from months ago, that’s less preferable for market research specifically than if there’s new discussion every hour or so.)
- It’s all anonymous except by choice. The usernames are small, there aren’t any other identifiers and people don’t have to use their real names. This means people are honest compared with Facebook or other platforms
Despite it being filled with some very irritating people, it’s my favourite place to start with market research for those reasons.
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Social media is free and you can stalk people for hours safe in the knowledge that it’s the major hobby of practically everyone you know.
In practice, people will tell you that social media is the be-all and end-all of market research if they aren’t telling you to look in magazines, but really… you get some limited insight and it’s quite difficult to get the time spent/results gained ratio correct.
Here are some best practices for each of the platforms and what you can do with them:
- Start a new account and follow ten to twenty people in your niche. See what links they post and eyeball whether there are big sites and how high engagement is. Look out for common complaints and questions
- Twitter is far better for broadcasting material than for market research. It’s hard to find groups seeing as it’s based on profiles as opposed to discussion. Their hashtag system is beyond useless.
- Browse hashtags, but go a level or two deeper. Find out who your target markets are – are they girls, boys etc. rich, poor, etc. location and all those other things.
- Second level; make note of ads and products to “experience” pictures ratio.
The second level is important because if you take something like the digital nomad trend – that’d look like a good market to target. It’s not though because most of the market is about “experiences” as opposed to “products” and despite the profile pictures, digital nomads tend to be economic bootstrappers.
Compare this to – I don’t know – handbags or something, and you see more ads and more money.
Let’s talk about two things: Facebook as a free social media research tool – you need to use it like you would Reddit or another forum. Go and find the big groups in your niche and see what they’re talking about. See who the people are and where they’re from. All the usual things.
On the other hand, Facebook advertising is fantastic. You don’t need to buy a single ad. Just sign up and play around and see how big markets are. Use their targeting system as you would if you were running ads.
You can find where people are, who they are, what they’re into, shared interests and a ton of good stuff. Best advertising platform anywhere, ever… save for possibly one.
Search Engine Optimisation
Google’s keyword planner and analytics programs are top-notch. In the future, they’ll lose influence because the other big properties (Amazon, Social Media, etc.) all become walled gardens.
For now though… you can get a good idea of a market and the questions that consumers ask by using keyword research tools.
Keyword planner is good for a free option, and there are numerous ones that’ll be a bit better for long tail keyword research.
Final thing on search engine market research: Learn to use the different search operators. For instance, putting site:sitename.com in the search bar will search a specific site, and putting something in “these quote marks” will search for that specific string as opposed to all the words individually.
That can be powerful when you are looking for facts to swipe and studies/social proof.
But The Biggest Market Research Takeaway Is This
It’s hard to write about this topic because I’m aware of the fact I’ve trained myself to go and look for problems to solve.
A lot of blog posts say, “Here’s how to do market research: Find a problem then solve it!”
Obviously that’s not all that helpful and totally obvious.
Whatever niche you’re in, people have problems. Whilst the finer details of human psychology are complex, people are pretty obvious about their problems – especially in anonymous places. That’s why I started with Reddit in this article. Comment sections can be good depending on the niche.
Generally though, where people anonymously congregate, you can find their grievances.
However there are also problems that exist where nobody is airing a specific grievance. Find these by doing stuff or looking specifically for inefficiencies.
This is something you have to train. So look at your life. Where could you save $5 or 5 minutes of time?
Once you’ve gotten into this habit, you can transfer it to your niche.
I’ll finish by saying that market research is one of those things you’ll learn intuitively the more you do it. Once you’ve trained your gut instinct to look at something and think, “I wonder who that target market is?” you’ll be surprised how often you get it right.