If you want to build a great internet marketing strategy, you need to start with great research.
Specifically, you need to understand:
* The keywords your target customers search
* The demographic make-up of your target customers
* The trends in your market
* What your competitors are doing
Here a five tools that I consistently use in conducting this research.
1. KeywordSpy.com (http://www.keywordspy.com/)
KeywordSpy allows you to see how your competitors are marketing themselves online. Among other things, you can see the keywords they are advertising on, their estimated ad budgets, their advertising copy, and what keywords they rank organically on.
This analysis allows you to identify where your competitors are getting their best online traffic, so you can replicate it.
2. Compete.com (http://www.compete.com/)
Compete.com allows you to see how much traffic a website is getting, how that traffic is changing over time, and how it compares to others in the market.
Within the premium (i.e., paid) features of Compete.com, you can see the demographic profile of the visitors to your and your competitors’ websites, and the sites that refer the most traffic to them.
This is really cool; particularly since if you know the sites which refer the most traffic to your competitors, you can contact them and try to get links to your website included there too, so you can "steal" some of their traffic.
3. Quantcast (http://www.quantcast.com/)
Quantcast allows you to see the demographic profile of visitors to your website and your competitors’ websites.
You’ll learn whether users tend to be male or female, the age breakdown of visitors, their ethnicity, whether or not they have kids, their income levels and their level of education.
If your competitors get a fair amount of website traffic, Quantcast can also show you some cool additional data, including other sites which visitors to your competitors’ websites also visit, and traffic frequency (e.g., % repeat vs. one-time visitors).
4. Yippy Cloud Creator (http://cloud.yippy.com/)
Yippy Cloud Creator is a relatively unknown tool that I came across a few years back. Simply enter a keyword and Yippy will show you other keywords that searchers of those keywords also search.
Let me explain. There are several research tools such as Google’s Keyword Suggestion Tool that allow you to search on keywords like “tennis racket” and see closely related keywords like “tennis racket reviews” and “tennis racket strings.”
Conversely, when searching “tennis racket” in the Yippy Cloud Creator, you see results such as “badminton” (showing that many people who search on “tennis rackets” are also interested in “badminton”) and Amazon.com (showing that many people who search on “tennis rackets” also frequent Amazon.com).
You can then use this intelligence to improve your online marketing.
5. Google Insights for Search
The final tool I want you to know about is Google Insights for Search, which you can access at http://www.google.com/insights/search/. To start, simply enter the core keyword (e.g., tennis rackets) that best represents the product or service you sell.
Then, using the “Compare by” and “Filter” fields, you can quickly see how the search volume for your keyword has changed over the past years, which cities, states and countries are most interested in the keyword, and related keyword search phrases, among other things.
Using these 5 tools will quickly give you a great snapshot of your market. You will better understand your customers’ needs, learn what your competitors are doing, and identify opportunities to better market yourself.