No more excuses: 5 free sources of real research for your marketing strategy

Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A lot of companies think that using real market research is simply out of reach. It’s too damn expensive to hire a company or pay consumers to answer some questions. Plus, who’s to say that the data is reliable?

We’ve been round and round about the role of research. People have demonized it as being too detached from reality, while others have made it a cornerstone in their decision making.

But, let’s get right down to it: Research should be a critical component of any business or marketing strategy. Without basing your decisions on data, then you’ve really just boiled it down to guesswork — which is not strategic at all.

Am I saying you should marry yourself to statistics? Not a chance. But, you can derive valuable consumer insights, glean decision-making patterns, humanize experiences, and draw out predictions from analyzing data while interpreting with an eye on the real world.

Luckily, the Internet has made research data not only abundant and accessible, but, in many cases, even free.

So, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be using data to inform a business or marketing strategy. I’m going to even help you out with five sources of free, useful data that can be found online.

1. Consumer Barometer and Think with Google

Google Consumer Barometer

Google’s Consumer Barometer allows you to visually explore consumer trends in a wide range of consumer markets. The selection is limited, though, and you won’t find much for professional services or B2B markets, but there is still a ton of data.

Think with Google offers much of the same research data in traditional formats.

This is especially useful for researching consumer shopping habits (e.g., how people shop and compare in various markets.)

2. Pew Internet

Pew Internet

Looking for more comprehensive behavior studies over a huge range of markets both B2C and B2B? Here’s your place.

Pew offers a ton of free research reports. They’re a leader in providing useful data for all kinds of businesses — especially as it pertains to how we use the web in our shopping and purchasing decisions. It’s usually easiest to use their search feature if you’re looking to dig into a specific industry or market.

 

3. Statista

Statista

Statista has a large amount of gated content for subscribers, but they also offer a huge range of market data for registered users for free. Most of their data is focused on industry / market size, revenue, and growth rather than granular consumer information.

Unlock all of their research for a pretty-affordable $50/month.

 

 

4. eMarketer

eMarketer

Another paid site that offers plenty of useful content for free to users.

eMarketer offers primarily data on digital and technology trends among consumers — but their research is pretty wide-reaching and offers a lot of statistics on international usage, coming trends, and other insightful data.

5. Google Scholar

Google Scholar

Another entry for Google. This time, the scholarly arm of the search engine provides access to an enormous amount of market and scientific research. As always, Google has no shortage of search results.

Many of the reports will be under lock and key, but a good number are published for free. Look for a PDF hot link directly in the search results for direct access to research. Be aware of the year of publication, as Google Scholar indexes data that can be decades old.

About me

My name is Tyler Hakes. I'm a digital strategist in Des Moines. I write and tweet about marketing, strategy, media, and technology.

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