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Marketing research guide for agencies

Market research is an essential part of any client project. Without it, you’re just a marketer with an opinion. And opinions won’t lead...

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7 min read

Market research is an essential part of any client project. Without it, you’re just a marketer with an opinion. And opinions won’t lead your clients to success.

With the right resources, you can understand your clients’ market and see what competitors are up to. This knowledge is key to building a data-driven marketing strategy that actually works.

Still on the fence? In a recent survey of 20,000 online consumers, 46% said brands annoyed them most when they pushed irrelevant content. This is something you can help your clients avoid by better understanding what their customers really need.

In this guide, we’ll equip you with the right resources to do market research for any client project and hit the ground running.

What exactly is marketing research?

Marketing research is the process of collecting and analyzing insights about how a business is positioned within a market, along with information on existing and potential customers.

As an agency, your main goal is to answer a wide range of questions on your clients and their customers:

  • Who their customers are

  • Who their competitors are

  • Why customers need your clients’ products and services

  • How much they buy

  • Why they choose your clients

  • Why they choose competitors

  • Where there are opportunities to set your clients apart

How to do market research

You can better understand how your clients are positioned in the market by doing research with the right tools in these 7 categories:

  1. Demographics

  2. Target audience

  3. Competitors’ sites

  4. Keyword research

  5. Social media

  6. Surveys

  7. Trends

1. Demographics

This specifies a group of people and their characteristics. You can use this data to group your clients’ customers into segments and gain insights on their needs and how they make decisions. Here are some places where you can find demographic data:

  • Google’s Consumer Barometer Google’s Consumer Barometer is an interactive tool that helps you find data on consumers’ device preferences and insights into how people make purchase decisions by country.

  • U.S. Census Bureau The U.S. Census Bureau breaks down population data into topics ranging from health to housing and employment rates to international trade. The Bureau’s Quick Facts tool also provides demographic info on the state and local levels, including age, sex, income, business and computer and Internet use.

  • provides in-depth demographic data from across the federal government, including from the U.S. Departments of Labor, Justice, Agriculture and more.

  • U.S. Small Business Administration The U.S. Small Business Administration is another great source of customer demographics and economic stats. They’ve even dedicated an entire section of their site to market research and competitive analysis.

  • Pew Research Center Pew is a nonpartisan organization that conducts public opinion polling, demographic research and content analysis. Their research offers insights into social, tech and media trends.

  • offers detailed demographic info on people’s professions, salaries and levels of education by town and city.

2. Target audience

It’s easier for you to create successful ad campaigns and content when you understand your clients’ customers. Use these tools to help you better define your client’ target audience and how they behave:

  • Google Analytics’ audiences tool Google Analytics’ audiences tool can help you analyze the size and behavior of your clients’ site visitors, from the devices they use to the lifetime value they offer. You and your clients can use this data to see how people are interacting with their sites and how to improve the user journey.

  • Facebook Audience Insights Facebook Audience Insights provides detailed info on who visits your clients’ business pages, including their education level, job title, relationship status and interests and hobbies.

  • GutCheck GutCheck brings together people from your clients’ target market to help validate new product ideas and test advertising concepts.

3. Competitors’ sites

The right competitor research tools can help you understand where your clients already have an edge in their market and where you can help them catch up. Here are some recommended competitor research tools:

  • Alexa Site Overview With the Alexa Site Overview tool, you can submit a website and instantly get a detailed report on where the most traffic comes from, the keywords driving the most traffic and similar sites by audience overlap.

  • SimilarWeb SimilarWeb allows you to submit any website and see top traffic sources, average visit duration, bounce rates and related sites people are browsing.

  • Raven Raven provides detailed reports on website backlinks, keywords and social media shares for competitor domains, which can help you understand where to improve your clients’ SEO content or targeting.

  • WhatRunsWhere WhatRunsWhere measures the performance of competitors’ ads. You can see what your clients’ competitors are talking about and learn from what performed well in their campaigns.

4. Keyword research

Keyword research is the process of identifying the terms and questions that people type into search engines when they look for your clients’ companies, competitors and products.

What your clients’ target customers are searching for says a lot about their thoughts, interests and behaviors, and analyzing them will help you optimize your clients’ marketing strategy, as well as:

  • Attract the right kind of traffic

  • Post more relevant and engaging content

  • Improve their campaigns and increase sales

  • Boost brand awareness

Doing keyword research regularly will help you keep up with consumer search intent and ever-changing algorithms. Stay on top of your keyword research with these recommended tools:

  • Google Ads Keyword Planner The Google Ads Keyword Planner is a free tool to help build search campaigns by finding keyword ideas and estimating how well they’ll perform.

  • Keyword Discovery Keyword Discovery provides access to a massive keyword database from a variety of search engines to help you optimize website content and meta tags, maximize pay-per-click campaigns and stay competitive in a given market.

  • WordTracker WordTracker provides tools to help marketers and SEO specialists find high-performing keywords, build quality links and better understand the language of their market.

  • Competitor Keyword Matrix Alexa’s Competitor Keyword Matrix shows you the search terms your target audience is using to find your clients’ sites and their competitors. Learn which terms are leading your clients’ target audience to competitors and create a plan to target similar keywords.

  • Übersuggest Übersuggest shows how the keywords you’re interested in are being searched and suggests other words that can help improve your clients’ content.

  • is a keyword research tool that generates similar search queries from around the world to help give you an idea of how a word or phrase is being searched.

  • SerpStat SerpStat is a tool for finding popular keywords and how they’re used by people looking for specific products, services or information.

5. Social media

Social media is a gold mine for market research, because you can monitor your clients’ customers and competitors directly. Track any time your client is mentioned, and learn insights about their customers with these social research tools:

  • Awario Awario makes it easy to track mentions of a business across social platforms, blogs and other sources. Its dashboard breaks down mentions by platform, language, location and sentiment.

  • Sendible Sendible helps you monitor your clients’ social profiles, engage with their audiences and create social media reports.

  • SEMrush While best known for its SEO tools, SEMrush also offers a Social Media Tracker, which monitors growth, activity and engagement across your clients’ social accounts. It also benchmarks their overall social media performance against their competition.

  • Social Mention Social Mention shows who's referencing any topic across different social networks. It combines that data in one place where you can search and analyze it.

  • Tagboard Tagboard uses hashtags to collect social media posts across platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

  • Hootsuite Hootsuite offers real-time social media monitoring and analytics that draw on blogs, forums and news sources to deliver social media data to help optimize content, campaigns, and more.

6. Surveys

Online surveys are a great way to conduct market research on target customers. You can leverage this info to help your clients optimize their websites, as well as improve their products and services. Here are some top tools and sites for creating online surveys for your client projects:

  • Google Surveys Google Surveys allows you to easily create online surveys to gather insights for better business decisions. Google automatically aggregates and analyzes the responses and provides the data to you in a simple interface.

  • SurveyMonkey SurveyMonkey allows you to create any kind of online survey and offers more robust survey solutions specifically for enterprise and market research.

  • SurveyGizmo SurveyGizmo makes it easy for any businesses to create and conduct surveys, polls, quizzes and questionnaires.

  • Typeform Typeform is a survey-building tool that makes collecting and sharing information comfortable and conversational. Use its web-based platform to create anything from surveys to apps, without having to write a single line of code.

  • SoGoSurvey SoGoSurvey application that can be used to create surveys to measure customer engagement and experience, collect product feedback and conduct market research.

  • Survs Survs is a survey-building tool that lets you quickly create surveys. Unlike other free survey options, Survs provides user support.

  • SurveyNuts SurveyNuts helps you create online surveys and questionnaires that look good on any device and evaluate results in real time.

  • Qualaroo Qualaroo lets you add a short pop-up survey to the bottom of your site.

7. Trends

While we don’t know what will be the next big thing to shake up the industry, here are marketing research tools you can use to stay on top of the trends:

  • Google Trends Google Trends can help identify trending and most-popular searches in a wide range of categories. Search for topics that interest your target customers by region and find newly trending searches culled from massive search results.

  • BuzzSumo BuzzSumo is a great resource for finding trending topics and key influencers. They base their search results on the number of shares on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and other social channels.

  • Ahrefs Content Explorer Ahrefs Content Explorer lets you research trending content from its billion-page database. You can filter results by social shares, backlinks, relevance and domain rating.

  • Curata Curata helps you to discover and share trending content. The more you share, the better its algorithm gets at recommending content that’s relevant to you.

When it comes to creating a successful marketing strategy for your clients, you can’t rely on opinions alone. All of the research tools we’ve covered here will help you lay a solid foundation for your clients’ marketing strategy and give them the competitive edge they need.


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