Apart from research resources at the local public library, small and medium business owners should really leverage the greatest resource at their fingertips – the world wide web. There are several online research tools that provide a snapshot of your businesses versus the current market situation. I use the following tools on a consistent basis:
1. For businesses in the USA, the most basic resource for business analysis and research is “Sizeup”:
Once you enter your business category and area code, it provides a list of competitors in your area. You can provide a segment of market you are trying to target and it provides a list of potential customers in that area. You can also research on companies that can be your potential suppliers.
It also provides a list of zipcodes with the highest revenue in your business area and hence with the higher chances of ROI if you advertise there. Overall, a very handy tool.
2. For B2C businesses, a great source of information is the “Claritas” tool:
This tool provides the demographic composition of an area based on zip code. Segmentation information categorized by earnings, ethnicity, age and household composition can be useful when looking for areas to target for advertising as well as understanding of a certain behavior/trend.
3. For web-based businesses, “Alexa” is perfect web analytics tool. It tells you how your website is ranked globally as well as in your local country.
You can enter your website in their search box and you will get your website ranking. It tells you how your website has been faring since the past 3 months. Additionally you can compare your website performance versus your competitors website.
4. For online marketing analysis, hubspot has a free tool called the “Marketing Grader”:
This tool grades your marketing efforts and gives you a final score. What I like about this tool is that it provides information on how you can improve your score and also provides various free resources to help you take corrective actions.
5. I have personally used “American Factfinder” on several occasions. It is simply a very efficient tool to mine the Census information. The results are displayed in a very systematic manner along with a maps feature.
6. You can stay updated with the latest mentions of your business interest category via “Google Alerts”.
These are the ones I frequently use. Are there any online market research tools you use consistently for your business?