Online market research is a process of collecting information owned by your company and published online by other sources. During the research, you learn about your clients, industry, and competitors and seek improvement. Gathering this data enables you to explore the characteristics of your target audience, understand their needs and problems, and drive sales. It helps launch new products, reach new markets, and improve business performance.
In this article, we’ll unveil why brands need online marketing research and review online market research methods. We’ll also provide you with a guide on conducting such research and the tools you can use for it.
Why do you need to conduct online market research?
Online market research helps startups and established companies. You can build a new brand from scratch or run an existing business smoothly with research. The information available online can be diverse. You can find data about your industry (how it’s better to enter the market, the level of competition, and what products are in need), target audience (their needs, preferences, requirements, and problems), and competitors (explore their marketing strategy, promotional approaches, and things that make them succeed).
Every business owner faces problems when launching a startup. It can happen due to a lack of information about the market, target audience, customer demand, or product quality. There are many reasons why clients might prefer other brands. However, with a proper online data analysis, you can run a new brand effectively and reach your business goals. After completing online research, you can obtain materials crucial for a successful business. This is a must to understand your customers and the market you want to enter.
Besides helping new companies, online market research allows existing businesses to improve. Research is an effective technique for business owners who face difficulties in sales, lower product demand, customer churn, etc. With proper market analysis, you can identify the issues your company has. Research enables you to access and evaluate the work of your competitors and find out why they succeed.
By analyzing their strategies and positioning, you can improve your marketing approach and other areas that influence customer decisions. As a result, you’ll get more sales, reduce churn rate, and improve customer retention. In addition, you can find new business opportunities for your company. For instance, launch new products in high demand, enter the market in new cities or countries, or incorporate new business models.
Research helps you understand the behavior of your customers. By analyzing how your customers shop, you can improve the usability of your website and user experience. As a result, higher customer satisfaction and lower cart abandonment.
Now that you know why online market research is essential, it’s time to review the methods you can implement.
Online Market Research Methods
There are four groups of online market research to find the necessary information for your business. Let’s review each of them in detail to have a full understanding of these methods.
- Primary market research. The information a company obtains isn’t in public access. A business is a full owner of the data its team receives. Business owners get the necessary information through online surveys, focus groups, and interviews. You can obtain information about your target audience (preferences, problems, complaints, feedback, product trial, observations, etc.).
- Secondary market research. When conducting secondary market research, companies can find data in open access on the internet. It’s freely available and cheaper than primary research. Competitor websites, media outlets, reports, and more are secondary information sources for brands.
- Qualitative market research. This type focuses on the target audience's feelings when using your product. It’s usually leveraged before launching a new product to understand customers’ feelings, emotions, thoughts, and points of view. When conducting qualitative market research, companies choose small groups of people. They ask questions through surveys, interviews, forums, and focus groups to receive customer insights. Brands incorporate this research when they want to market a new product or feature and find out what customers think of it. It can be done before the launch or after the trial period.
- Quantitative market research. This type relies on data with numbers. Business owners use primary and secondary data to predict patterns and trend spots. It’s usually presented as raw data, graphics, tables, and charts. A survey is the most common type of qualitative market research. As a rule, it includes answer options with a numeric value.
Now that you understand the four online market research methods, let’s dive into the process step by step.
How to conduct online market research?
Since online market research is crucial for building a successful brand, we’ve decided to provide you with a guide on how to do it. Stick to our instructions to get all the necessary information about your industry, target audience, and competition. Let’s dive in.
- Consider keyword research. With keyword research, you’ll determine whether the demand for the product you want to offer is high. This way, you’ll be able to predict the success of your product within the market. Although high search volumes don’t guarantee high sales, they still can show that the interest among users is real. Keyword research is also essential for developing an effective inbound strategy. This way, you can figure out opportunities for generating organic traffic to your website by optimizing your content. Use tools like Ahrefs, Google Keyword Planner, or Keyword Tool to conduct the research.
- Analyze competitors. You need to conduct a complete market analysis to enter the market for the first time. This analysis should include research on competitors. Before running a new business with a specific offering, ensure there’s no high competition in your niche. Identify your main rivals in ecommerce and online marketplaces. After listing your main competitors, consider exploring and analyzing their business model, sales funnel, and website. This information will help you understand their strategy better and find out how they managed to succeed. With online research, you’ll be able to uncover their advertising strategy, website design, content marketing strategy, pricing, return policy, etc. All these facts will help you build a brand customers will be happy with. Use the information obtained to your advantage.
- Explore consumer trends. During product research, you should identify and understand the latest consumer trends. When researching, determine the character of product interest (declining, stable, seasonal, all-year, or growing). Consider using special tools like Google Trends. Type the keyword (for the product or industry) you are interested in and choose a timeframe.
- Use social media networks. Since the number of social media users is constantly increasing, it’s a must to leverage this channel. Today, social media isn’t only about communication but business as well. Brands broadcast their ads, communicate brand messages, share products, and sell them. That’s why Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are the sources of information for your research. Customers’ preferences, wishes, problems, complaints, and comments can be found. After analyzing this information, you’ll be able to understand what works with your target audience and what things you should avoid. For a deeper analysis, you can follow opinion leaders and check hashtags related to your industry, and analyze competitor sentiment.
- Make use of forums and customer comments. Search for the forums related to your industry if you want to find out more about your target audience. Choose the most popular forums with your customers involved and register. Encourage communication with your potential clients, and provide them with answers, tips, and tricks that might be useful. Participate in discussions and help these people solve problems. This way, you’ll be able to know your target audience better and establish trust, credibility, and awareness about your brand. Strive to provide real value for your future customers, and they will acknowledge your product. You can encourage conversations by asking questions related to your product and brand. This way, you can understand what customers prefer, like, and dislike. This information will be helpful once you start running your business.
Now that you know what steps to take when conducting online market research, let’s explore some tools that will reduce the workload on your team. These platforms will help you obtain necessary information faster without the manual search.
5 Online Market Research Tools
Running a new company, opening a new store, or reaching a new market requires comprehensive online market research. This process might take time unless you use a special tool. In this section, we’ll unveil effective platforms enabling your team to do it faster.
Paperform helps you design online forms for your customers. It suits startups and enterprises. With its help, you can create online forms based on your needs and receive customer insights. The surveys are customizable, so you can develop any form and comply with your brand standards and style. Forms from scratch and templates are available. If you need to design a form fast, consider using pre-built templates. It will take you minutes to complete. Paperform allows you to build memberships, set up subscriptions, and collect donations. Web forms, surveys, polls, tests, and fillable forms are the products you can make with the service.
Below you can see what Paperform’s interface looks like.
Free plan: free 14-day trial.
Paid plan: Starting from $24 per month for unlimited forms, 10,000 form views, one user, payment collection, and 10 MB maximum file size.
Loop11 empowers you with customer insights to improve user experience with your website. The platform offers you to use GPT-4 and collect insights from hundreds of users. It will help you assess the success of your product within the market. With its help, you can test prototypes, live sites, and competitors without adding code to the product.
Loop11 enables you to complete multiple studies: A/B testing, accessibility testing, search engine findability studies, mobile and tablet testing, user testing, true intent studies, and more. Besides, the platform allows you to record videos and audio of your users so that you can see the experience with your product with your own eyes.
Below you can see a cart abandonment project template you can choose in Loop11 to conduct your research.
Free plan: free 14-day trial.
Paid plan: Starting from $199 per month for moderated and unmoderated testing, unlimited tasks and questions, and three projects.
Temper is a perfect solution for business owners who want to evaluate customer satisfaction with their brands. With the service, you can instantly know which areas in your product or company need close attention and new solutions. There are three ways of assessing your business with Temper. You can put the form on every website page to understand overall satisfaction with your product. The inline form enables you to receive insights on a specific item (it’s placed on a page with a certain product). You can also get insights on your customer support by sending an email that contains a customer satisfaction form.
By tracking customers’ feedback with Temper, you can receive crucial data for your business. No need to rely on gut feeling because now you can easily find out whether clients are happy with your product.
Below you can see the satisfaction forms you can design in Temper.
Free plan: —.
Paid plan: Starting from $12 per month for unlimited questions, no Public Ratings Page, generic thank you, and Temper branding.
Ahrefs is a platform that enables you to build links and explore keywords. With its help, you can ensure your company website is optimized based on the latest SEO trends. After registering in the service, consider receiving insights on organic keywords, competitor research, backlink profiles, domain rating, and content. It’ll help you understand the logic of customers’ searches and sites that can help you promote your product online.
Below you can see Ahref’s Site Explorer and the information it helps you obtain.
Free plan: —.
Paid plan: Contact customer support for information about pricing.
BrandMentions helps you effectively manage social media networks. With the platform, you can see comments related to your brand or competitors. You’ll be able to see brand mentions across various channels, like social media platforms, news, blogs, videos, and more. BrandMentions allows you to find out who discusses your company, receive insights about your target audience, establish social media presence, perform sentiment analysis, develop influencer marketing strategies, and many more.
You can see how to track your brand mentions on social media and on the internet in general with BrandMentions.
Free plan: 7-day free trial.
Paid plan: Starting from $99 per month for 15 keywords, 5,000 mentions, daily updates, and 1-month historical data.
Congrats, now you know what online market research is and why it’s essential. Leverage our guide and choose the best tool to research your target market. Hope that our hints will help you reach your business goals.
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Last Updated: 04.07.2023