Market research is gathering information about your industry, market trends, target audience, and competitors. It's a necessary process to do when you start your small business and to continue doing, so you can stay on top of trends in your industry. There are many online market research tools out there that can help give you a competitive advantage with your market research. Some tools are free, and some have paid plans to use their software. We'll review 13 free and paid market research tools that can give your business an edge. So many market research tools are available, so we've split our top 13 into four categories based on your goals for your research. Tools that will help you conduct market, industry, and consumer research Market research software that lets you hear directly from your customers through surveys Tools you can use to do market research through social media Tools that help you understand how your website currently serves your customers and how you can improve it Tools For Understanding Your Industry and Industry Trends 1. Think With Google Website: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/ Pricing: Free What it is: Think with Google offers several tools to help you better understand your market and trends and find the right audiences. One of the tools within Think with Google is Google Trends, which shows what terms Google users have been searching for and where. You can look at trends to see when and where users search for specific terms relevant to your business. Another helpful tool within Think with Google is Find My Audience. Find My Audience helps you discover your target audience and how to best reach them. This tool will help you find new customers based on their interests and demographics. 2. SimilarWeb Website: https://www.similarweb.com/ Pricing: Both free and paid plans available What is it: Similarweb offers market research tools that provide website traffic and audience insights. Their tools also provide competitor analysis and industry benchmarking to see how your website stacks up against your competitors. Similarweb has free market research tools that analyze how well your website and competitors' websites rank. Similiarweb is an excellent tool for understanding your industry, where your website stands, and who your audience is. 3. U.S. Census Bureau Website: https://cbb.census.gov/cbb/ Pricing: Free What is it: The U.S. Census Bureau has created a tool specifically for small business owners called the Census Business Builder. This tool lets you select different regions or states, industries, and other demographics to create data sets that you can then download or explore in the tool. Your custom report includes valuable data to learn about the people in your region and other businesses in your area. For example, if I wanted to open a daycare for children in Mesa, Arizona, I could use this tool to create a report showing how many daycares there already are in my area and their average annual income. 4. Quora Website: https://www.quora.com/ Pricing: Free What is it: Quora is a website where anyone can ask a question about any subject, and other users can respond with an answer or solution. This tool is a great way to learn about the questions your target audience may have. Suppose you want to create a blog or additional content for your marketing. In that case, Quora is an excellent place to look and see what your audience wants to know. You can also work on building up your online reputation by sharing solutions or answers to questions within your field of expertise. Building your online reputation can be especially helpful if you want to build your audience outside your local area. Tools to Create and Share Surveys 5. SurveyMonkey Website: https://www.surveymonkey.com/ Pricing: Both free and paid plans available What is it: SurveyMonkey is market research software for creating and distributing surveys. You can create surveys for your current customers or your target audience. SurveyMonkey has hundreds of templates you can customize to create a survey that will provide insights into your customers. SurveyMonkey also has a tool called SurveyMonkey Audience, where you can create screening questions for the respondents who will answer your survey. That way, you send your survey directly to your target audience. 6. Typeform Website: https://www.typeform.com/ Pricing: Both free and paid plans available What is it: Typeform is a tool that enables you to create forms you can embed on your website or share through other methods, such as email or social media. Typeform is an excellent solution if you're looking to create quizzes, surveys, polls, or other forms to gather your customers' information. You can also use Typeform forms to give product recommendations or to have your customers sign up for an email. 7. Qualtrics Website: https://www.qualtrics.com/strategy/ Pricing: Paid What is it: Qualtrics has many tools for communicating with your customers and employees. We'll focus on their 'Strategy' tools. You can create and send surveys to your customers or a target audience to conduct market research. If you have a product or are building one, you can use Qualtrics to observe how your customers use your products. This feedback allows you to receive feedback and see what pain points your customers might have and how you can reduce friction. Qualtrics also has a tool to gauge how your current customers and target audience perceive your brand. This tool helps you to track your brand awareness, so you can see how your business grows as you increase your reach. Market Research Tools For Social Media 8. BuzzSumo Website: https://buzzsumo.com/ Pricing: Paid What is it: Buzzsumo is software that helps you to monitor mentions of your brand and business across news sites and social media. It enables you to analyze trends and popular topics for your target audience to inspire you with content ideas. You can also monitor your competitors to see their mentions and what topics they're posting about. This data can be helpful when you're creating a competitive analysis and want to understand your competitor's tactics. Buzzsumo also has a vast database of journalists and influencers you can connect with to promote your brand. If you want to go viral or gain some PR for your business, then Buzzsumo is a tool you should consider. 9. Facebook Page Insights Screenshot of the Facebook Page Insights dashboard for a business page Pricing: Free What is it: If you have a Facebook page for your business, you can access data on how people engage with your business page and your posts. You can also learn about the demographics of the people who view and engage with your content. This data is helpful in both understanding your audience and in planning social media marketing. Suppose you have a specific demographic that tends to engage with your content the most. In that case, you'll know whom you want to target in a paid social marketing campaign. A paid social media campaign is where you pay Facebook to show an ad to a target audience. Knowing who will engage with your ad will make your campaign more successful. 10. Hootsuite Website: https://www.hootsuite.com/ Pricing: Free and paid plans available What is it: Hootsuite is a social media management platform. You can use Hootsuite to manage your business social media accounts and to track engagement. Hootsuite also has a tool called Hootsuite Insights, which is a powerful online market research tool. With this tool, you can monitor trends in your industry, what your competitors are doing, and brand mentions on social media. By monitoring these things, you can jump into conversations and spread awareness of your business. It also helps you stay ahead and respond quickly to any negative coverage your business receives. Market Research Tools For User Testing 11. Hotjar Website: https://www.hotjar.com/ Pricing: Both free and paid plans available What is it: Hotjar is a tool that creates heatmap visualizations of your website. These heatmaps show how far your customers typically scroll on a page, where they're clicking, and what content they ignore. Along with heatmaps, Hotjar also records how your visitors see and engage with your website, so you can see how your customers are interacting with your website in real time. You can also use Hotjar to launch surveys to ask your customers for feedback on your website and how to improve it. These are great insights to have if you want to improve your website. 12. Crazy Egg Website: https://www.crazyegg.com/ Pricing: Paid What is it: Crazy Egg provides you with similar insights to Hotjar, such as heatmaps and customer feedback. This tool also allows you to test new solutions on your website. This process is called A/B testing. A/B testing is where you test two different versions of a landing page on your website to see which one performs better. A/B testing is a helpful feature when you make changes to your website. Anytime you're changing a process or the layout of a page, it's good to test it against the original to ensure you're improving your website. 13. Temper Website: https://www.temper.io/ Pricing: Paid What is it: If you want simple customer feedback on their experience on your website, then Temper is a great tool to consider. Temper is a platform where you create questions that customers can answer with an angry face, neutral face, or smiley face. This quick poll lets you get a temperature check on your customers' satisfaction. While simple, this tool can help you better understand your audience and how well your product or services meet their needs. Wrapping Up Understanding your audience and market is vital to having a successful small business. Using some of these tools to follow industry trends or hear back from your customers can improve your business and keep you ahead of the curve.