Now with digital marketing, effective market research is no longer limited to big companies with big budgets. Small and medium-sized companies can also perform extensive market research using free or affordable digital tools.

To help small businesses conduct market research using effective digital tools, here are 11 tools you should use:

  1. LinkedIn: Use this professional social networking website to learn about the corporate backgrounds of prospects and find shared connections who might help make an introduction. Search LinkedIn profiles of competing brands and their staff to find connections to important clients and suppliers. You can also find employees who are about to leave their companies – they’re generally very active in updating their profiles or seeking recommendations.
  2. Job Posting Sites: See which kind of job postings a company has. You can often figure out their business strategy or plans based on the positions they hire and which locations are hiring.
  3. Wayback Machine: This tool shows historical snapshots of websites so you can determine how their brand or marketing strategy has evolved over time.
  4. is a crowd-sourced online business directory with 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.
  5. Google Trends: Use Google trends to estimate product demand for a particular market and to assess brand awareness of competitive products or services.
  6. Google Alerts: Set up Google Alerts to notify you whenever competitor names or keywords related to your industry come up on social media.
  7. SEC Edgar’s Database and SEDAR: This website lets you find financial information and filings for public companies.
  8. PRNewswire and PRWeb: Use PRNewswire and PRWeb to go through online press releases for news regarding your customers and competitors. You can even expand the list to do research on their customers and vendors.
  9. WhoIS: Use WhoIS to find the contact information of the people behind microsites and content sites. Sometimes you may discover that a review site is actually another form of content marketing performed by a digital agency.
  10. Quora: Check what kind of 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.
  11. Slideshare: Find corporate and individual sales presentations that staff members from your competitors have uploaded to share online.