Americans essentially buy the same hundred or so items, according to market research data. However, trying to figure out who needs what and when they will likely need it isn't always such an easy task. In fact, it's a lack of effective market research that contributes to most product failures. Need some help fine-tuning your approach to collecting valuable consumer and product data? Consider using one or more of the following market research tools.

1. American Fact Finder

While not one of the obvious market research tools, American Fact Finder can help with your demographics. This free tool allows you to filter U.S. Census Bureau data by location, age, gender, race, and income. Such information can be used to give you a better understanding of the potential customers within your preferred markets. You're not going to get in-depth insights with this tool, but it's a good starting point.

2. Business Dynamics Statistics

The free Business Dynamics Statistics tool uses U.S. Census data to provide an overview of the business landscape within specific geographic areas. You might use market research tools like this one if you're considering expanding into a new market or opening a new business location. It provides details such as the number of startups within an area and recent business openings and closings. Job creation data is also provided so you can determine your odds of finding new employees within a certain area.

3. Google’s Keyword Planner

Do your AdWords campaigns need some adjusting in 2018? Google's free AdWords tool can give you the metrics you need to figure out which keywords searchers are using to find what you have to offer. It's a good tool to use if you're planning to expand beyond your existing target area. Different keyword variations can also be tested to see if there are less-competitive keywords that may produce similar results.

4. Open Strategy

Enter a brand name into the Open Strategy tool and it will present you with the demographics of their customers. This is an excellent way to see if your competitors are targeting the same customers you are or focusing on different consumer segments. The site also maintains updated market data and research, including detailed, relevant case studies.

5. SEMRush

If there's one “must-have” tool to include your arsenal of market research tools, it's SEMRush. This veritable platform's dashboard gives you access to an assortment of analytical tools. SEMRush also lets you check the quality of your links, analyze keywords, and keep tabs on competitors' SEO efforts.

SEMRush offers three pricing plans. The Pro Plan is sufficient for basic research needs. The main drawback is that there is no plan before Pro, which can be a problem for business owners without a general understanding of SEO.

6. Ask Your Target Market/SurveyMonkey

Surveys have long-been one of the most useful market research tools. Ask Your Target Market (AYTM) allows you to creatively customize surveys you can distribute via your various email lists. You can also seek input from the platform's user base – which amounts to more than 4 million users. It's affordable, and an efficient way to quickly gather feedback as you work on your marketing strategy. SurveyMonkey is a similar service you can use to create customer market research surveys.

7. PickFu

There's something to be said for collecting market research data outside off your current customer base. For starters, you'll be able to get different opinions from customers not already familiar or loyal to your brand. The tool to use to do this type of broader research is PickFu. It's an excellent instant feedback tool for testing things like tag lines, marketing messages, and even new product names.

8. Loop11

Webpage testing should be part of marketing research for any business that has a presence online. Loop11 is a tool you can use to test the usability of any webpage, including ones from your competitors' sites. It works with survey questions you create to ask users their opinion about different website design or navigation features.

Your data is presented in the form of reports that are produced after participants complete the test. The main drawback is that testing is not moderated, so you can't be certain if everyone completed the test properly. Also, live websites are tested, which may mean dealing with some slow servers. This could discourage people from completing the test.

9. Google's Consumer Insight Tools

Consumer Barometer is one of the many useful consumer insight tools available from Google. It lets you do things like creating your own customer analysis and comparing digital trended data over time. You can also track offline purchasing behavior to gain even more useful consumer data.

By developing an understanding of your customer's purchase path, you'll be able to engage your audience when they're ready to make important purchase decisions. Google Surveys is another great tool from the Big G you can use to target specific audiences to better define your customer base. Google Trends is helpful for tracking search term trends at any given moment.

10. Userlytics

With U.S. consumers spending an average of 5 hours a day on mobile devices, it's easy to see how mobile apps can benefit your business. Userlytics is a tool that allows you to test mobile apps. One can also use the platform to test display ads, videos, and other specific forms of content. Results are captured with webcam or screen recording. You'll be able to compare users' reactions to see how they responded to what was presented.

Summing Up

You'll likely use a combination of market research tools this year. Make it easier to use the data you get from each one by placing your info into a spreadsheet. This will give you a more precise picture of your intended audience. You'll then know how to effectively plan your market strategy. Keep updating your research consumer habits and preferences change over time.

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