Internet Research Tips For Small Businesses

Market research used to be only in the purview of large corporations who had the capital and wherewithal to conduct such research. With the internet, it has become easier than ever before for small businesses to conduct market research on their own. Here are some internet research tips that can help businesses understand what it takes to survive in their local or online market and what they need to do to spur innovation. It’s only natural for small businesses to start researching their potential customers especially when you consider that roughly 61% of consumers use the internet to research businesses and their products.[1]

There are a couple of things that small businesses have on their side without having to do any research. The first is that roughly 52.7% of consumers are more willing to go shop at small businesses because of the personalize customer care. A total of just over 61% of respondents in the same study indicated that they would rather pay more money at a small business than shop at a large corporation that might charge less.[2]

Internet Research Tips for Small Business
Market research used to be only in the purview of large corporations who had the capital and wherewithal to conduct such research. With the internet, it has become easier than ever before for small businesses to conduct market research on their own.

But, how can small businesses use this information to their advantage? And what kinds of research can they do on the internet to really pin down their market? Here are some Internet research tips.

Assessing Viability

Whether you are an established business hoping to offer a new product or service or you’re looking to open up a new small business in a particular niche, it’s vital to assess the viability of such a venture. Online research can give you a solid understanding of the market, the industry you’re in, and whether or not people will be interested in your new venture. For instance, a purpose-built prune shop might not gain much traction, but a market looking to add prunes to their inventory could feasibly use the internet to gauge overall viability.

One of our best internet research tips is a tool for assessing the feasibility of a new small business.  It’s called SizeUp. Designed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), SizeUp allows you to search by industry and zip code to see how you might fit into your desired location. The service indicates whether or not there are competitors in a particular area and if there are enough consumers to warrant a new business. It also provides plenty of analytical tools to help you decide where to start your business.

Investigating the Competition

There’s certainly nothing wrong with seeing what your competition is doing or if you even have competition. One of the easiest tricks for investigating the marketing strategy of an established competitor is to type “link:www.[Competitor’s URL].com” into any standard Google search. This will show you how many sites link back to your competitor’s website so you can look into their link-building strategy.[3]

This is something that can be valuable before and after sales. It’s always important to understand your market constituents and what they want. The best way to do that is to ask them directly. Several online survey websites (like KeySurveyAYTM, and SurveyMonkey) give you the resources to set up online surveys. You can also embed customer satisfaction surveys into websites, newsletters, or emails to gauge how well you’re doing and how much the product or service was appreciated.

Researching Keywords

Ecommerce is built around the successes and failures of certain keywords, and it should be a vital research component for any small business. There are numerous keyword researching tools including Google AdWords Keyword PlannerWordtracker, and Keyword Discovery. All of these services will give you thorough, in-depth analyses of which keywords will offer the greatest traffic potentials for your website.

Looking into Social Media

Social media drives the online marketplace and it’s a goldmine for online research and marketing. Indeed, 88% of all marketers have indicated that social media grants them broader exposure to a much larger consumer base.[4] It’s important to look into social media to discover what the trends are in purchasing and brand engagement. Services like Spezify allow you to comb through social media to find trends as they relate to your particular market.

With all this information readily available at your fingerprints, there is really no excuse to not engage in some kind of market research. Gut instinct simply won’t cut it in today’s world of big data and marketing analytics. Of course, there’s no such thing as a “sure thing” in business, but if you have the right research, you are already a step ahead of the game.

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