Three Google tools to help you learn about your audience

Posted on Dec 4, 2017

Recently, we attended a Google Campus event to hear Carolina Lasso give an overview of Google Tools available to people looking to get a better understanding of their audience. Large and small businesses can use them for quick insights or to spark some new ideas.

Here are the three tools we picked, some of them might be familiar to you and some less so:

1.Google Suggest

Inadvertently we’ve all used it at some point – you start typing in the Google search bar and Google auto-fills associated terms in a drop down menu. These suggestions are generated based on the most frequently searched terms and could help you to understand what’s top of mind. For example, making slime is popular around Halloween.

Suggest

It can also help businesses discover what is popular right now. For example, a search for ‘juice’ returns a few words related to health (‘cleanse’, ‘diet’). So if that is your product it’s a quick way to start thinking about positioning (focused on health as opposed to energy or taste?). While in no way scientific, Suggest is a great tool to play around with.

The suggestions are influenced by your location, search history, language etc. so playing around with your location setting might give you different results.

Tip: if you add an underscore before the word you’re interested in (e.g. _juice) it means that word can appear anywhere in your search term rather than right at the beginning.

 

2.Google Trends

Next up: Google Trends. It allows you to see interest for a word (phrase, keyword, or search term) by time, location and popularity. The results are relative to the total number of searches (not absolute). By applying some filters you can start to understand trends within a slightly more specific audience.

The main dashboard will display trending stories of the moment and of the region you’re in. But the real fun begins once you customise the search.

Let’s use the virtual juice product again to illustrate a few ways how Google Trends can help.

Discover overall popularity

Searching for ‘juice’ worldwide over the past 5 years, within the Food & Drink category displays the following steady growth in interest:

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However, when you filter for UK only results, the graph looks slightly different with a directional increase in popularity over time and a slight decline from July;

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The above ‘juice in the UK in past 5 years’ graph shows that there are seasonal spikes in interest in both January and May. This could help make decisions about launch timings, new product development (a winter cleanse juice perhaps) or content strategy.

Competition research

The examples so far used just one term ‘juice’. One of the most useful features Google Trends also offers is to compare several terms such as the popularity of alternative beverages:

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This was a brief overview of what Google Trends can do – there are plenty more ways to use it including:

– looking at the popularity of a product in different geographical markets

– comparing different spellings of the same word to see which version is more popular

– confirming a trend if you are creating content

– exploring rising trends within your category for future planning

 

3.Google Surveys

One more tool to cover briefly is Google Surveys. This is a paid service that can be an alternative to market research if it’s not available. There are two steps:

– Pick an audience  

At the moment it offers a limited selection of countries, you can then select gender, age groups, and regions.

– Design your survey

Choose the questions you would like to ask and how you want the answers to be given (e.g. multiple choice from a set of answers or a rating scale from 1 to 5). It’s worth spending some time planning the survey to make sure the quality of the data collected is good enough to use to make decisions. Google have some sensible advice here: https://support.google.com/360suite/surveys/answer/7380083?hl=en

One thing to bear in mind is that the longer, or more complicated your survey, the higher the drop off rate will be. In other words, people will be less likely to answer all of the questions.

You can also ask a screening question at the very start. For example you might only interested in answers from people who are frequent juice purchasers.  Then the first question could be:

 “Do you purchase fruit juice (in any size carton) at least once a week?”

 

If the answer is no, then they won’t see any more questions and will go through to read the content they were interested in. If they answer yes, then the next questions will appear. There is an additional charge to use this type of screening question.

What can Surveys be used for?

Google Surveys is not just for straight yes or now questions. It can be used to ask for opinions on the logo you are developing, check the colour preference for new packaging, or sense check assumptions you may have made about your product or audience. Surveys offers a cost effective way to test those assumptions at ~ 50 cents per question. You set the number of answers collected and so control the budget.

Who answers these surveys?

Your survey will appear in front of two different types of audience: gated content partnerships and those who have signed up to complete google surveys.

Gated content partnerships will look something like the one below:

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What do the answers look like?

 

The answers will be shown in a series of graphs, which can be broken down by gender, age, or geography. So for example, for an answer you can see whether Men or Women are more likely to shop at a certain store. They can also be exported into an Excel spreadsheet for further analysis.

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Start trying them out

Overall, each tool has specific benefits and these tools are not a silver bullet that will provide all the answers. However, they’re easy to use, and can help to generate some knowledge used for further investigation.

For more, visit the Google hub for consumer insight tools: thinkwithgoogle.com

Some of the tools that we find interesting are;

  • the consumer barometer (online behaviour and path to purchase)
  • market finder
  • display benchmarks

 

Posted by: Julia Mironova; Fiona Day