It could easy go without saying that businesses thrive on information. Lucky for us, we live in a day and age when more and more information is available to us freely for our gathering. No longer must you pay inflated IT costs or set up designated task forces to research your markets. There are many resources available to us right now, free of charge, that allow us to gather this input and make better business decisions. The three tools noted below offered by Google will give you a jump-start into your data collection process.
This service allows any Google user to stay on top of their markets by being alerted to new and relevant information available on the web. Using this service, you sign up to receive emails when sites post new information that matches a particular search query. For example, say you wanted to be alerted anytime the phrase “dog walkers Baltimore” was published. If you owned a dog walking business, you would want to know about any new dog walking businesses, news about dog walkers, or any other published piece of content that matched those criteria. It’s a great tool to keep on top of your market, and bring the information to you in a timely manner. Set up two or three alerts and see which one really works best for you.
A long time favorite of mine, Google Analytics, is a free web statistics service that allows you to gather some unique and custom information about visitors to your site. By simply adding a small piece of code to the bottom of your web site, Google will track your visitors paths, patterns, and general stats all for free. The power of Analytics cannot be summed up in a single blog post, but if you are not using this app, start now!
This unique tool allows you to compare Web sites by URL to find similarities and differences in a series of criteria. This example shows a quick comparison for two sites in a similar market. Wouldn’t you like to try this with your competitors? Where are your customers coming from, and where are your competitors targeting?
A second component is the ability to see what is happening on certain keywords in terms of frequency and location. Why are Canadians searching for ‘shovels’ 30% more than Americans? The same thinking could be applied to your industry. Overall this tool could help you see where possible markets exist, and where you might need to start taking steps to grow next.
Best of luck!