Market and brand research tools are your secret weapon in the quest to understand your customers — and find new ones.
You may think you know everything about your target audiences already, but without the data to back it up, your hunch can send you down the wrong path.
Market research is all about figuring out who your potential customers are, how you can reach them, and what they need from you. Back in the day, tools to answer these questions might have consisted of a pen, clipboard, and phone.
But now, there's a whole array of smart data analysis and collection systems to choose from. So, where do you begin?
It starts with trying things out! Experimenting with the various options is the only way you'll know what works best for you and your company. And while some tools aim to serve all your needs, others are more specialized — so it might be best to have a few of the below-listed tools in your arsenal.
The tools we've looked at fall into three categories – online listening, broader market intelligence, and direct customer interaction. Pricing goes from free, to the tens of dollars, to enterprise-level commitments in the thousands.
Whether you're part of a small business, startup, or large corporation – you can gain valuable insight from each of these services. So, let's take a look at the ten best creative market research tools we've come across so far – and discuss why you should give them a try.
1. Answer the Public
Answer The Public is a free market research tool that helps you figure out what questions people are asking online. Entering your topic on the search page brings up a list of questions, topics, common search terms, and related subjects.
Let's look at "oat milk" as an example. Amongst the numerous results for this topic, you'll find:
"where to use oat milk"
"which oat milk is best for toddlers"
"will oat milk curdle"
"can you recycle oat milk cartons"
These may not necessarily be the topics you'd think people want answers to, but this is the information customers are actually looking for. And if you aren't answering their questions, rest assured, someone else definitely is.
The insights you find with this tool can inform the development of new products or services, and if content marketing is a channel you invest in, it's even better.
If you create content that addresses the topics your customers are searching for, you'll attract more easily them via search engines. Once on your site, you then have a chance to bring them into your marketing funnel in whichever way you prefer.
This is, of course, the foundation of good SEO.
2. Think With Google
Source: Think With Google
While Google's other services are widely known, this one isn't as famous outside data-driven marketing circles.
But Think With Google is a different way of looking at data that'll help any marketer looking for stats, trends, and insights.
Think With Google is different from the real-time data you'd get from Google Analytics — which many marketers swear by. And it's a bit more focused than its sibling, Google Trends.
It's actually a free-to-use, curated resource library of facts and figures. It uses Google's vast array of analytics data — along with human wisdom — to provide information you might not find from other sources.
Features like consumer insights highlight what's going on in the world of commerce, and while you can perform specific searches — they might be better for creative inspiration, rather than answering focused queries.
For example, the YouTube Find My Audience tool can provide interesting profiles on customer searches in different target markets.
You can see both "affinity audiences" (buyer personas with habits and interests similar to your offering) and "in-market audiences" (people searching for information about your offering or its competitors).
Essentially, Think With Google is a suite of different market research tools built into one platform — have a dig around and see what works best for you.
Spyfu is a search engine analytics platform that allows users to see how their competitors are attracting traffic.
When you visit the homepage, you'll be asked to enter your competitor's website address. Spyfu then provides general information about their traffic metrics, where they're getting traffic from, and what people are searching to find them.
It's also really useful for finding competitors you didn't know you had, based on the overlaps in traffic.
There are also paid options with extra features, but the free service still provides some valuable intel. There's keyword research, backlink checkers, and other useful SEO tools to inform your online marketing strategy.
Despite the name, it's not designed to encourage you to plagiarize in any way — it's more about competitor research. And if you want to serve your target audience best, you need to know how well they're already being served.
Knowing this allows you to find gaps in the market and spot opportunities to expand or improve your offering. It's definitely worth a shot.
If you're looking for high-quality insights based on reliable data and a more streamlined, automated survey tool for your market research — our very own platform is the one for you. Latana is brand monitoring software that's simple to use, but surprisingly powerful under the hood.
The special ingredient to Latana is its ability to understand consumer perception about your brand and how it changes over time — even for niche audiences.
The audience segmentation feature enables brands to:
Zoom in on the niche customer groups that your brand values
Analyze which audiences work best for competitors - and where your brand can fill the gap
Focus campaigns only on the audiences that are helping your brand grow
These insights are powered by mobile-optimized brand surveys that create a smooth mobile user experience for survey respondents that ensures valid and reliable results. With them, you can reach 4 billion mobile users in over 100 countries.
The result: maximum consumer information capture. Understanding the impact of your brand marketing — once thought of as fuzzy and mysterious — is now easy, clear, and precise. It's the kind of market research you can seriously enjoy doing.
Why not give it a try?
Buzzsumo is a market research tool that's all about content marketing and social media. It's used to generate insight from what people are posting, engaging with, sharing, and blogging about — and can teach you a lot about what your target audience cares about.
BuzzSumo is focused on the performance metrics of content — like how many shares a post has or how many backlinks a page has. As a way to find the most popular content in your industry or niche, it's second to none.
By analyzing the data it provides, you'll be able to create your own high-performing content in the hopes of going viral with your target audience or getting excellent press coverage.
You can use BuzzSumo to monitor the social mentions on a certain topic and set up alerts for certain keywords or comments. So, if you care about what people are saying and want to provide information and content they'll really appreciate, this tool can be a lifesaver.
Statista is a market and consumer data portal that covers a huge range of industries around the world.
It's easy to get started with Statista — just head to their website and try a search. Queries will return hundreds of market research reports, data visualizations, and statistical dashboards created from a variety of sources.
Try "gluten free goods" for example — it returns a wealth of reports on consumer activity in that product category over recent years. Clicking into the results gives you analytical dashboards, survey sources, and links to similar topics and studies.
It's a great way to find intel on things like consumer behavior, market trends, demographics, and consumer opinions.
However, if you'd like access to more detailed data, you'll need to set up a paid account. Still, the free tier is useful as a starting point.
Typeform is a well-known primary research tool that offers a simple platform for making interactive forms and online surveys.
Its main selling point is a design-led aesthetic that creates a nice user journey as they answer questions. Users are typically shown a single question and answer at a time — which can be less intimidating than a full-blown survey shown all in one go.
Plus, the included templates are easy to set up.
Typeform can play a big role in collecting customer feedback — whether that's ideas for new offerings or opinions about their current experience. If you're collecting a large volume of customer data, it also gives you the option to view the analytics of the qualitative responses you collect.
It's not what you'd traditionally call a market research tool, but Otter.ai should be a part of any marketer's arsenal.
It's an AI-powered transcription software for interviews and meetings. It sits in the background listening to you talk and transcribes your words into plain text — whether you're talking in-person or remotely.
This means you get a digitized conversation that can be searched, stored in a database, and scored on positive or negative sentiment.
If you're not talking directly to your customers, you're missing out. Interviewing them is one of the most valuable ways to learn about your product — with questions like: How do your users feel? What features do they want added? What would convince them to tell their friends about you?
Sometimes, these answers don't come out in surveys or social media engagement. So, add interviewing to your market research toolkit and you'll get that human insight that broader demographic research can't always hit.
Here's a secret weapon for anyone wanting scientific research to understand consumers and to provide proper sourcing for their claims: Dimensions.ai
Dimensions is a search engine for academic publications. So searching for "productivity in the pandemic" or "vegan food sales" will return studies, papers, and journals from universities and research institutions around the world.
It's an amazing resource for discovering new findings in mass psychology, micro- and macro-economic trends, and trending topics. Pro Tip: Make sure to filter your search to "All OA" which will give you Open Access research – this is free to view, rather than paywalled.
It's free to use in your web browser. Play around with search queries related to your industry, and filter results to the last few years. Soon enough, you'll find a study that proves a hunch you may have had, or gives depth to a trend you've noticed.
When you find a result, click on it, and then "View PDF" to be taken straight to the file. Or you can click the "doi.org" link to go to the publisher's page if you want to reference it in your marketing campaigns.
While Yelp isn't necessarily designed for businesses that conduct market research, it's a goldmine to gather information and figure out what customers expect when they spend their money.
It's a search engine and review platform for local businesses — mainly for food & drink, but also for local trade services like electricians and plumbers. With a huge archive of customer reviews, it's one of the best sources of opinion out there.
If you're a brick-and-mortar business, it can be an invaluable way to find out what your competitors are doing right and wrong.
Other review sites you can discover useful insights from are TripAdvisor (for destinations), Google Reviews (also for destinations), Steam (for video games), Metacritic (for media), and Amazon (for consumer goods).
You can take this tactic even further by digging through Reddit, Quora, and other online forums dedicated to your industry. They're a great way to speak to potential customers directly without having to do online surveys.
With the intelligence you gather from review sites alone, you can have a real advantage in creating your next marketing campaign or upgrading your customer experience.
These marketing research tools will provide a big upgrade to your daily toolkit.
Whether you're looking for metrics, trends, conversations, or valuable insights, you've got plenty of tools to choose from. If you want to excel as a marketer and reach a wide pool of potential customers, you need to know where to find them.
Now that you've got an arsenal of solutions to deploy, you're on your way to becoming a market research expert.
Updated by: Cory Schröder on 02.08.22