This is Part 3 in the series of Testing the Muse in Practice, our first real time experiment.
This post is a continuation of Part 2 on market research hacks, wherein we are attempting to identify the active seeker for this potential product, and determine if enough of an audience exists, in order to proceed to Testing the Muse. This article will introduce additional tools to help you find your potential customers.
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Quickstart Market Research: Finding Potential Customers (Continued)
To recap, although I refer to this as “market research”, we’re actually scoping our research down to specifically “finding potential customers”. It’s more realistic, provides better insight, and is actually easier to perform.
After your keyword research, examined in Part 2 using tools such as Long Tail Pro, you will have a handful of words and phrases that you’ll want to focus on when building your marketing material – both when framing your product offering and in developing your advertising campaign.
But you’ll still want to investigate further to ensure this topic is worth your time and effort.
We now have a very general estimate on the number of people searching online for this topic. But compared to what? And is this number growing or declining?
For this task, we’ll use Google Trends. This tool is awesome! It provides a ton of useful insight, particularly if you’re examining a potential idea that is riding a current wave of popularity, or if you’re trying to assess if your idea is on-trend. For example, I’ve found it helpful when researching fitness-related concepts (i.e. CrossFit’s trending up-and-to-the-right, while Jazzercise… not so much).
But given our subject matter, chances are these numbers won’t translate into a whole lot – we’re not exactly dealing with a hot new trend here… People in North America will continue buying cars, new and used, well into the foreseeable future.
Upon searching Google Trends, there just wasn’t enough data on specific search terms like “compare used cars”. So I decided we should take a step back, and look at the topic of “used cars” as a basis for determining what the market looks like, where we could further target our advertising efforts, and observe if there are any like-minded topics that we could take advantage of.
1. Interest Over Time
The following is a trend graph, from 2004 to present day, comparing U.S. searches for “used cars” vs. “new cars”. Despite the slight decline in used car searches over time, there is a sizeable number of used car searches over new cars.
2. Regional Interest
This trend analysis is specific to the United States, but you could filter data globally, or to any country and sub-geography of your choosing. The following ranks sub-regional searches for “used cars” within the U.S.
If you really wanted to niche down your advertising campaign, this info could be used to specifically target individual states when Testing the Muse using online advertising by Google Adwords.
Not long ago, this tool use to show the platform or source of the search traffic, such as what proportion was coming from internet searches (e.g. Google, Bing), Facebook, YouTube, etc. That was valuable info (for further targeting your advertising campaigns), but they seem to have taken this variable out of the report.
3. Related Searches
This listing shows the top related queries to “used cars”. This info could be handy in determining both where to target your ads, but also what to pair your product with. For example, at the time of writing this (subject to change by the minute, based on real-time search results) – seeing “Craigslist cars” at the top of the rising list could indicate that advertising on this platform would be beneficial. Or seeing that “Kelley Blue Book” (a source for vehicle valuations), as well as “Ford” and “Nissan”, are strongly correlated searches, you could somehow include these brands in your website or advertising content.
You’ll see how we can work this data into our Testing the Muse process when developing content and testing the product later.
A picture of your target market is starting to emerge. So far, this has simply been aggregate information based on Google searches – extremely useful information, but not human-level stuff.
As a final step to finding potential customers, we attempt to gain a profile of your target using Facebook Ads. We’re not actually going to create and run an advertising campaign on Facebook (just yet), but you need to go through this process, as if you are setting up an ad, in order to access the wealth of user data they have available.
Essentially you’re defining your audience so that you can get a sense of your potential “reach” – the approximate number of people your ads could potentially get in front of on Facebook, based on your targeting criteria.
Remember the rough bulleted description of my perceived market that I outlined in the last post? This is where you can start to plug in some of those demographics – such as location (U.S.), gender (male and female), age (18-64), language (English) – this is all pretty general info, so expect to get back general results.
The real significance surfaces when you begin to define the “Interests” of your audience. This is where you can experiment by entering some of the keywords you researched in the last post. You won’t always find the equivalent of your keywords, but related suggestions will be presented in the dropdown menu. There are typically more than enough defined “interests” on Facebook, so you should be able to include at least one defining interest to represent your audience.
Being that no one lists their interests as “comparing used cars” (and rightfully so), I had to settle for broader terms such as “used car” and “used car(s)” – meaning these people are somehow interested in used cars – they either have one, sell them, are looking for one, etc.
My “potential reach” translated into approximately 1.75 million people. Not bad, but still extremely vague. It’s a very broad 1.75 million – it could either be refined much further, or opened up to the rest of the world. For example, I’ve chosen to only calculate interest in the United States; obviously, these numbers would grow substantially if you expanded that setting to other countries.
Much more would need to be done before investing any substantial amount of money on pursuing this audience. We’ll see what we can do on a shoestring!
If you have a very refined target market, this is an ideal tool to help you really get a handle on the number of people you may be able to reach. It’s extremely important to remember that these figures are only:
- Based on Facebook users (which at well over 1-billion people is still a lot!); and
- Limited to the parameters you yourself define. Don’t put too much stock into this, I mean, I have a used car and have looked into buying used cars, but I would never list it as an “Interest”… Some people just like to put it all out there for anyone to see, but there’s certainly a silent majority out there as well.
Pulling it All Together
Between the keyword research, trend and reach data, we now have a very general understanding of our active seeker online.
Intuitively, you may have known they’re out there – but doing some preliminary research helps you define who they are, where they are, and how to best get your messaging in front of them when it’s time to begin Testing the Muse.
In the next installment we’ll move towards productization – refining what form(s) the product might take, how that would be developed and delivered, what potential benefits there would be to the consumer (including what that’d be “worth”) and investigate any potential competition out there.
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Key resources mentioned:
My next to-do:
- Finalize brainstorming on productization, form and function of this used car comparison tool.
- Check out the competition!
- Prepare Part 4 of this real time experiment.
Action you can take:
- Get your free Quickstart Guide to Hacking Market Research, and be the first to get updates on this process and see Part 4 of this real-time Testing the Muse experiment by subscribing below.
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