How to Do Market Research for Your Online Business

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Do you want to increase sales? Find customers? Know more about your competition? That’s where market research comes in.

You might think you understand your target audience and market, but you should never presume to know them without having the research to back it up. The data is invaluable and it should become the driving force behind every business decision you make, from product ideas to pricing to website features.

Tools to conduct market research are readily available, and once you understand who your customers are and what influences the decisions they make, you’ll be able to make your stamp in the market.

But what does market research involve and how can you implement it into your business strategy? Let’s find out.

What Is Market Research?

Market research is the process of gathering information and data about your target audience, market condition, and competing businesses.

Its purpose is to help you recognize your customers and what drives them to make a purchase. The research can be collected through methods such as surveys, focus groups, or even external sources such as industry reports and analytic tools.

With this to hand, an online business can effectively adapt its products to appeal to buyers, build strong marketing strategies, and make smart business decisions that align with public opinion and relevant trends.

Why Market Research Matters

If you want to learn how to do market research for your online business, you must first understand why it matters and the key reasons every business should adopt the practice.

  • Develop an understanding of your audience
    • By understanding your audience, you can meet your customers’ expectations effectively, which is what market research is for. This will help you develop relevant and appealing products, generate sales, and allow you to engage with your customer base successfully.
  • Learn what appeals to your customer
    • In addition to understanding your audience, you need to learn what drives them to purchase products so you can shift your business to meet their needs and solve their frustrations. Research can help you identify any pain points allowing you to remove those hurdles — whether that’s improving the layout of your website, streamlining checkout to avoid cart abandonment, or providing better customer experiences in general.
  • Reveal new markets and business opportunities
    • Market research can highlight new business paths for you to take, such as a new product idea or a unique offer to share with customers. By keeping on top of the latest product trends and data, you can make sure your business constantly evolves to remain relevant and popular in the market.

Know Your Audience

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Step 1

To understand how customers in your market make buying decisions, you must first understand who they are — buyer personas come in handy for a job like this. They’re fictional representations of your target customers and can be used as a reference when making important business decisions.

You can learn more about your audience through various means, from blogs, customer feedback, social media, and market reports. These are all hubs for consumer information, so make sure to examine the experts in your niche, monitor relevant hashtags, and look at what customers are saying. By using your customer research, you can transform your copy online to become more personal and relatable.

personas market research
An example of a customer persona — the template is full of helpful information.

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: Don’t forget to check out relevant influencers in your market! See what conversations they spark online and who they’ve partnered with before.

Keyword Research

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Step 2

Keyword research is a critical part of the process. It will help you realize the demand for a product or service as well as highlight customer desires or pain points you might not have thought of before.

By indicating how interested consumers are in a product, or what they’re searching for online, you can make appropriate decisions for your business to direct customers your way.

With tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and SEMRush, you can input keyword ideas and analyze search results to build up a database of words to target so your work can be optimized for search engines.

Evaluate how high something will rank on Google, see what competitors are doing, and gauge public opinion on matters.

These tools are simple to use and accessible — from Google to blogs to social media to more premium websites — so make sure to tap into this resource to conduct your market research.

keyword planner market research
An example of Google Keyword Planner in use, highlighting ideas based on the initial search.

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: Research and data are constantly evolving with time, so make sure you’re getting current information by conducting market research regularly. You don’t want your decisions to be based on outdated data.

Competitor Research

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Step 3

Knowing how to do market research for your online business is key if you want to stand out amongst the crowd. You can learn a lot about your market by looking at your competitors.

Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of comparison, and instead use the process as a way to gather inspiration. What works well? What doesn’t? How can you do it better?

Observe and take notes on their business model, their sales and marketing strategies, their website design, and their product pages, for example. There are a few ways to go about this, but we recommend analyzing their websites, viewing industry reports, public company accounts, and scrolling through their social media.

Use this research to craft your own choices — never copy — and figure out how you can fill in any possible gaps in the market with your business.

Test Your Concept

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Step 4

Once you’ve analyzed all the data and market research, you should then consider building an online store to test your idea and business model in real life. It’s a great way to receive valuable data on sales and marketing that you can utilize as your business grows, and the test can provide useful feedback from customers on their experience shopping with you.

Firstly, pick an ecommerce platform that best suits your needs, build and design your website with engaging copy and impactful pages, and then start driving traffic to your business through SEO, marketing, and social media pushes.

The key thing to think about, which draws on your market research, is what will make your customers satisfied when shopping with you? Always think back to the needs of your target audience and what drives them to buy products if you want your online business to be successful.

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: Gather feedback as much as possible! Engage with online forums, social media posts, or send out surveys for customers to fill out after shopping with you. It’s important to check in on customer satisfaction and see if there’s anything you could be doing better.

Summary

By now you should know how to do market research for an online business and we hope this article has helped you recognize its value. From keyword searches, social media insights, and customer feedback, market research is there to help you identify product demand, current trends, and what’s missing in your niche. Once you develop an understanding of your audience and know what appeals to them, you can then put systems in place to generate more organic traffic and sell more products.

FAQ

There are many examples of market research such as surveys, feedback forms, interviews, and focus groups.

Primary and secondary research! Primary research deals with methods that you can carry out directly, such as surveys and other interactions with customers. Secondary research is provided through an external source such as SEMRush or Google.

Various forms of market research can help you gain a greater understanding of your customers, such as feedback forms. However, you can also gather insightful information on your customers through social media, marketing analytics, and website data.

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