Market Research The #1 Rule of Web Design: Know Thyself – Identify Your Online Target Markets

Market research is an integral part of starting and building a prosperous business. Analysis of online competitors, search engine user trends and industry standards are essential to the design of a successful, profitable web site. This data greatly affects a company’s approach to web site design, development and search engine marketing. A clear online customer profile and exploration of niche markets is necessary in order to create a web site design that fulfills your customer’s needs and keeps them coming back.

Market Research Tools

Website Performance and Behaviors

You can learn a lot by simply reviewing your own website data, especially if you are using Google Analytics and the Google Search Console. Find out how many people are coming to your website and how they are finding you. See which pages and posts on your site are the most popular and attract the most traffic. Discover the keywords people are using to find your site and what pages they land on when they search for certain terms and phrases.

Google Analytics
Google Search Console

Both of these tools will require a Google Account to sign up and once signed up you will have to place simple codes on your website in order to verify you have the right to track the site. If you need help, your web designer or developer should be able to assist. Just send them your Google logins so they set the tracking systems up on your Google account and not their own.

Client/Customer Feedback

One of the best paces to go for information about your markets IS YOUR MARKETS. Get your existing customers, donors, and partners to provide feedback so you can learn how to better serve their needs. Also, if you have been reviewed online read the reviews and listen to what your previous customers and clients are saying.

  1. Customer Surveys – Survey Monkey or Google Forms
  2. Review Sites – Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, Google +
  3. Social Media Analytics – Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Pinterest Stats, Iconosquare

Local, National, and Global Research Providers

Don’t be afraid to go “old school”. Libraries today offer a variety of research resources and reading regularly updated books about certain niche audiences is still a valid strategy.

  1. Local Chamber of Commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureaus, and industry associations
  1. Public and university or college libraries
  • The Thomas Register of American Manufacturers and the Harris InfoSource All-Industries and Manufacturing Directories can help you target businesses in a certain industry, learn more about competitors, and find companies to manufacture your products.
  • To get insights into consumer markets, check out the Statistical Abstract of the United States, which contains a wealth of social, political and economic data.
  • If you’re looking for company-specific information, your library may have an online subscription to Hoover’s, which is owned by Dun and Bradstreet.  D&B also furnishes its Million Dollar Database, which provides addresses, key officers, sales, and number of employees for almost 2 million U.S. and Canadian organizations, both publicly traded and privately owned.

Online Market Research Tools

  1. Google Adwords – the Google Keyword Planner tool allows you to see what terms and phrases are typed into Google, how many times per month on average they are searched, how much competition there is in Google advertising for these terms, and the average cost per click.
  2. Google Trends – Google tracks all trending topics on the internet and on their search engine
  3. Census Bureau International Database –
  4.’s – a virtual library of marketing info that includes a section called “Weblinks” that contains links to a wide variety of market research web resources.
  5. – provides national market research reports for 16,000 industries in 300 U.S. markets, local research reports for 16,000 industries in 250 metro markets, or financial profiles for 10,000 U.S. industries. The reports are available for affordable fees.
  6. – over 250,000 research reports from hundreds of sources are consolidated into one accessible collection that’s updated daily. No subscription fee is required. People pay for the parts of the report they need and the data is delivered online a personal library you create on the site.
  7. Research Hashtags – Twitter can be a great resource itself, as well as,,,, and let you research hashtags by topic and location.

Competition Research

Google Alerts – find out what people are saying about your competition.

SpyFu – research your competition and find out how they are achieving marketing success online.

SimilarWeb – compare your online success to your competitors.