Google along with a number of other networks have some amazing tools that can help you get insights on all sorts of things. While there is a lot of crap to sort through, with practice and due diligence and a grain of salt with all the results you would be amazed with some of the really cool rationalisations that you will be able to draw, not to mention look really cool to a client when you can present this data backing everything you say up.
Using these tools can be really valuable in helping explain why something has happened, i.e. a massive spike or dip in the traffic to your site. Or even just trying to get an idea of the demographic audience and whether a market is going to be serviceable for a particular channel. So without further ado my favourite tools:
Google Insights –
Google Insights is a really nifty tool to be able to get an idea of consumer interest and trends. While by no means a perfect solution as you can really only get insights for one keyword phrase at a time, Google insights provides you with a general volume of the number of searches for that keyword within whatever geographical area you choose and with a pretty flexible time line as well. What this does is show a pretty accurate representation of trends within these targeted areas. Obviously there needs to be a bit of variation in what you use as keywords to get a more macro view, but as a tool to explain why your traffic has suddenly peaked, you can at least correlate whether you were directly attributable to that or if it was just an overall increase in consumer searches.
Ruslan Kogan was notable in talking about how he used Google insights to get an idea of the rising consumer demand for LCD TVs and other products that Kogan sell (http://www.kogan.com.au/media/uploads/media/BRW_Young_Rich_2009.pdf).
Google insights give you the trend, and this is really important for you to know whether you should be marketing to that sector. If it’s a growing trend its likely to be far more profitable than advertising to a sector that is rapidly falling in demand. By having an idea of these trends you can be one step ahead of both your competition and consumers, helping to keep you innovative and relevant within the consumers eyes.
Google Alerts –
Google alerts is essentially a person who goes through all the newspaper clipping and magazines cutting out any articles that have mentions of you or your articles, only instead of in print media it is directed at the whole world. While Google alerts is admittedly limited in that you are again getting these articles etc. based off a keyword, you can run multiple alerts at a time.
What this allows you to do is essentially a low cost social media monitoring platform. While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that dedicated social media monitoring platforms such as Alterian SM2 and Radian 6 have, it does give you a free alternative that will allow you to at least know when and where you are being mentioned and help you respond to it.
I’m a big fan of Google alerts (I have alerts set up for myself and my blog), and while I don’t personally use it for any of my clients due to the luxury of having access to a more robust social media monitoring platform, I do recommend it to those who currently have no social media monitoring. By being able to see and hear what consumers are saying about you and your brand you are both able to better directly respond to them, and also get a better idea of how to improve you product and brand for the future.
Google Keyword Tool –
The Google Keyword tool is a really useful tool, especially when initially setting up SEM accounts and trying to works out what keywords SEO should be targeting. The keyword tool allows you to get a more direct measure of the number of searches for a particular search term. While google insights does give you an idea of the general number the Google keyword tool is a better representation of the actual search volume and the ways (through keyword match types) and variations of the keywords that they are using, along with the levels of competition for these keywords. What this all allows you to do is get a clear idea of the difficulty to rank for particular keywords, whether it is worthwhile trying to rank for the term due to search volume and also the variations that they are using of the keyword.
While all experienced SEM and SEOers will know and use the Google Keyword Tool, it is also a really good tool for even people within the company to look at. If people aren’t searching for something then you aren’t going to be capturing them through SEM and SEO, so make sure that you are trying to target the correct key terms.
Facebook Ads –
When creating a Facebook ad you have the option to select target demographics, from which it will then present you with the number of people within that target demographic that you are able to market to. Now I believe that Facebook removes all users under the age of 13-14 so it isn’t a perfect representation, but then again if they are that young it is very unlikely that this is the right tool to get an idea of their numbers anyway. But what this targeting allows you to do is get an idea of the number of people who are within these defined demographics. Within Australia Facebook is incredibly popular with a penetration of 46% of the country. This means that for those who want an idea of the number of regular users of the internet within a target demographic only need to look so far as these estimated figures for the number of people on Facebook to get an idea of the size of their potential audience. And if you wanted to get really general you could double it and assume that as the number of people within those demographics within Australia overall.
But the really cool thing about this feature in Facebook is being able to track more specific things like people within a demographic who like “xxxx” or who are a member of “zzzz” as this can provide really valuable and specific metrics without the cost of needing to do surveys or buy data from suppliers. And while it isn’t what you would consider the most accurate data in the world, if defiantly gives you a good general idea of the market.
It would be my recommendation that all small businesses especially look at using this to get an idea of the size of their potential audience. That way they can know what to expect, not only in core numbers but given a reasonable sales funnel is designed, an idea of the number of sales and customers.
Try out all these tools and learn how you can implement them into you own campaigns. While not every tool is applicable to everyone they are great tools and tricks to have up your sleeve so that not only can you save yourself a lot of time and money, but also give yourself an advantage over your competition. The best part of it all is that they are all free services (Facebook is so long as you don’t actually set up any ads), which means that there is no risk or costs to you. So try them out now, learn them, and make them work for you!