14 Free Tools for Effective Online Market Research

Industrial espionage has existed for decades. Now it's not just for companies with large research budgets. Smaller companies with the right research skills can use the Internet to access much of the same information legally and inexpensively.  Done right, online market research gives businesses the information they need to make decisions with more certainty. Here are some free tools we recommend often to our clients.

  1. Google: Search for information related to companies and their key people. Use specific advanced search queries to “dig deep”. For more information, check out Google Advanced Search.
  2. Google Trends: Use Google trends to estimate product demand for a particular market and to assess brand awareness of competitive products or services.
  3. Google Alerts: Set up Google Alerts to notify you whenever competitor names or keywords related to your industry come up on social media.
  4. Facebook and Twitter: Want to find out who’s working with a competitor? Many social media managers follow or friend their company’s customers, prospects, and vendors.
  5. LinkedIn: Uncover the corporate backgrounds of prospects and find shared connections who might help make an introduction. Search LinkedIn profiles of competitors and their staff to find connections to key clients and suppliers. You can also find employees who are about to leave their company – they’re usually very active in updating their profiles or seeking recommendations.
  6. Job Posting Sites: See what kind of job postings a company has. You can often figure out their strategy or plans based on the positions they hire and which locations are hiring.
  7. Wayback Machine: One of our favourites. Find historical snapshots of webpages so you can piece together a picture of how their brand or marketing strategy has evolved over time.
  8. Jigsaw: Jigsaw is a crowd-sourced online business directory with contact information for more than 29 million contacts from over 4 million companies.  You can find the contact information for key people you want to connect with by trading with other members.
  9. YouTube: Search for videos that feature competitive products or key executives from rival companies. You can also look for third-party reviews.
  10. SEC Edgar’s Database and SEDAR: Find financial information and filings for public companies.
  11. PRNewswire and PRWeb: Search through online press releases for news regarding your customers and competitors. You can even expand the list to watch their clients and vendors.
  12. WhoIS: Find the contact information of the people behind microsites and content sites. Sometimes you may find that review site is actually an elaborate form of content marketing performed by their digital agency.
  13. Quora: See what questions a company’s staff have answered – or asked – on Q &A site Quora. This is a site where users are required to to register with their real names and user profiles.
  14. Slideshare: Find corporate decks and individual sales presentations that staff members from your competitors have uploaded to share with the world. 

These are just some of the tactics we use at Smartt to help clients research their competitors and customers. We offer a private 90-minute executive briefing with 50 more facts that can help make your B2B marketing more effectove. If you're interested in attending this complimentary executive briefing, please write from your company email to: measurableresults@smartt.com