Research Will Make Or Break You

My previous article covered starting up a business in a recession and the important points to factor into your business choice, in this article I want to look at the ways you can utilise online tools to help choose a viable business. I recently used this process to identify a really good online market for an offline business, it was hugely satisfying because I was not selling online at all just wanted visibility for enquiries. That business was called Parkers Hog Roast and it is absolutely flying.

I decided that a good case study would be the best way to get this process into an article in a way that has credibility as well as a tutorial process, this then enables people to accept that it really does work. So I will use the industry of GPS Tracking where we launched a business called Ninja GPS Tracking  in January 2012 and show how we did some simple research to see what the online market was.

This research was very extensive and looked into many different niche aspects of the business, it guided us in our creation and especially in our sales targeting once we were launched. Take a look at the website at some point and see how the niches are built into the site structure and content. This will help you to understand how to take the research and then apply it once you decide which business type you are going to setup.

Starting The Process
This means that the whole process of analysing what to target, what people are searching for what tools to use and yes also some information on what we change to help the site gain visibility in search engines for enquiries to come in. This business is also offering online transactions so any major visibility in search will have a direct impact on sales.

Choosing a viable business is a really important part of the process, many business ideas look great but when you dig into the detail often you will find there is little demand for that product or service. Therefore it would be at best a real slog to become successful if you make the wrong choice, if you make the right choice then your journey to become an entrepreneur will be much easier.

Understanding The Process
This is important, things are different these days, the market research of old relied on surveys and market testing, signing up to market evaluations which are expensive. Now you should look at how the online world can both assist your sales potential but also how online research can provide a valuable insight into important elements such as demand.

Online Research
This is where it is at, using tools that are provided by purveyors of search such as Google enables you to drill into data specific to your chosen market.

So first of all we went to the Google Keyword Tool – here we are looking the types of search query that people would use when they are looking for a business type or a business service. In our target market it would be search terms such as – GPS tracking or tracker. In addition it would also sensible to analyse historical data, this will give us an insight into the trend for any specific market we wanted to go after which can be very important as negative trend will mean less potential through online avenues.

So head for Google and do the search for ‘Google Keyword Tool’ you will see the address:- adwords.google.com

Click on the link and you will get this interface –

What we did here was enter some data that we believed would be relevant for people who would look for a Tracking device or service, the Google keyword tool will then give you specific data for the number of searches using those words from the previous month. Now obviously in some industry types there are some seasonal trends too, for example Christmas or Easter so when researching bear this in mind.

Google Keyword Tool
The way the keyword tool works means there are different ways of filtering the data, you can have for example an exact match showing all searches for the exact string of words for the previous month or you can use a broad match. The broad match looks at you chosen search words and then returns data based on slight variations where they were used in a search query.

A good example would be the word tracker – When using the keyword tool you will see that the UK search volume for last month (July) was 1,000,000 on a broad match search which is how often the word was used in sentences, on exact match the search term was entered into Google 10,000 times by itself.

This shows two very important things, firstly there is a good demand online for the product with people searching the exact word tracker but also there are derivatives such as GPS tracker etc. Secondly when creating content for your online sales these words will need to be incorporated as keywords into page content etc.

What is interesting is if you then broaden the keyword research you start to get really interesting figures which will give an insight into more niche aspects of an industry. Very often these niche areas are less competitive and can also convert into sales with a higher conversion rate. Below is a picture that illustrates this perfectly you can see a generic term like ‘GPS tracker’ still showing 27,000 searches in July but then look at the term ‘pet tracker’ with 1000. This shows how you should really word stem your subject because there are many niche searches that will show smaller volumes that collectively are very important.

Online research
Market Trend for Demand
At the same time it will be important to check what the trend is in demand for the business type over the previous period of months or years, to do this you need to quiz Google trends. This will give you information based on a set of keywords and shows search volume trends and news reports. This is a really great way of seeing if your chosen business market is growing or shrinking, whilst this is an online tool it is a very good indicator also of offline business trends.

Again Google trends is a free online tool, to find it go to Google and simply type in Google trends or go to google.com/trends/ you will see a simple search box. To get started simply add some keywords into the box with a comma after each one. When the results come in you can filter based on country and date range etc.

Below is an image that shows the trend for three important keywords that are intrinsic to the market of tracking, the annual trend is clearly upwards with annual Christmas spikes representing the consumer market researching product information before purchase. Clearly if you pick a business type that is downward trending then you may be in for a difficult time launching into a decreasing market.

Tracking Trends

Summary
So remember using free online tools can give a valuable insight into the particular business type you are thinking about creating a business for. Use the tools regularly and play around with the different options, broaden your search terms and think of niches.

If your business is going online and in this day and age they all should, then make sure you get the research factored into page content, page names, image tags and of course get into the world of social media as getting ranked in Google is very important once you are trading, the research has told you that!