What do you do when you have a problem or a question? Chances are you hop onto Google, online forums, social media or watch YouTube tutorials. So why aren't you using these places to find your next big business idea? Because if you ask someone what their biggest pain points are face-to-face, in focus groups, or using surveys, you run the risk of getting self-edited responses. However, the internet is overflowing with places where you can find authentic market research that is unfiltered and raw - you just need to hunt it down strategically.
When you use these non-traditional market research methods, you can increase the chance of your business becoming successful. You will know that you are meeting a need that is in demand, a need that is so strong customers are willing to part ways with their money to solve it.
How Do You Find UnBiased Pain Points?
The internet is filled with people complaining. It has become not only a way to entertain us and answer our questions but an outlet for us to vent. Savvy entrepreneurs use this trend to find the spaces where their audience is gathering and listening in order to build products and services that solve their problems.
With 170 million unique visitors a month from almost every country in the world, Reddit is a treasure trove. Its content is organized into over 8,000 subreddits making it easy for budding entrepreneurs to find their potential customers and perform valuable online market research.
Start your search by browsing through the following subreddits:
- /r/somebodymakethis - here’s a subreddit dedicated to business ideas that people don't have the time or skills to pursue themselves, but want in their lives.
- /r/askreddit/what_is_the_worst_product - If you want to find out what some of your customers, biggest pet peeves are head here. This thread is a summary of terrible, but popular products and a valuable source of insight on how you can improve products and solve customers problems.
- /r/doesanybodyelse - This subreddit is dedicated to common, but non-obvious annoyances and frustrations. It is perfect for entrepreneurs stumped on ideas and looking for inspiration.
- /r/[city-name] - Go to the subreddit for your city. Browse the threads and become familiar with the common questions and problems people are having. It might spark an idea or reveal a localized trend that you can capitalize on.
For even more business ideas, you can also use Reddit's general search bar to find relevant questions to your niche.
Enter the following searches followed by your chosen keyword and make notes of the common themes you find:
- How do I [keyword]
- How to [keyword]
- What should I do [keyword]
- Should I [keyword]
Amazon is more than just a massive online retailer. It's customer reviews are also a valuable source of free online market research.
Using Amazon as a way to crowdsource product development is a trend that is gaining traction. So much so that, C&A Marketing (one of the biggest adaptors), is seeing a growth rate of 30% per year.
To get started, find the category that is closest to what you want to do and then start reading 2 and 3-star reviews.
Why? Because 2 and 3-star reviews are where customers offer the most constructive criticisms. 4 to 5-star reviews are just praising the product, and 1-star reviews just bash the product and don't offer any valuable information.
As you read through the comments, ask yourself what pain points are not being addressed and can you create something that meets this need?
Blogs in your industry with engaged communities is one of the best places to find authentic market research. The comment sections are usually packed with people telling you in their own words what they found helpful, their questions and worries.
To find comments that will be useful to your business, keep a look out for customers expressing their challenges, frustrations, and problems. You will start to find recurring themes and maybe a few ideas of how you can address their problems.
The only issue with this tactic is that is can be hard to find blogs with an engaged community.
To get around this bump, use a tool like AllTop that aggregates a list of the most popular blogs on the internet under specific categories. Once you have gathered a list relevant URLS, hop on over to Buzzsumo and find their most popular blog posts. These are bound to have hundreds of comments that will give you a great starting point, but the blog topic itself will also give you insight into your customer's current pain points.
Quora is a great place for online market research because it revolves around a community of people asking and answering questions. You can find a range of topics discussing everything from startups to social media and travel tips to popular destinations.
Similar to Reddit, Quora also allows users to upvote and downvote questions, so you can gauge how important a particular problem or concern is to the community.
But the feature that sets Quora apart and makes it one of the most useful market research tools on this list is the fact that it also gives you a list of related questions, cutting your research time in half.
Turn Your Research Into A Killer Business Idea
While it is impossible to predict how successful a business idea will be until it is launched, you can use these online marketing research tactics to boost your chances of banking on a profitable product or service.
Whether you decide to try all these options or stick to one or two, you will gain valuable insight into the minds of your target market. You will know what they are struggling with, what they want, and identify if it is just a mere annoyance or something that they will actually pay money to solve.
Seth Godin wrote that great ideas are everywhere, you just need to see the "idea on a string and execute". So what are you waiting for? Start hanging out with your target market and turn their thoughts into your next big business idea.
Shawn Parrotte is the marketing manager of Designli, a mobile development firm specializing in bringing certainty to the world of custom software development. Designli guarantees fixed price points, fixed scope of work 'deliverables,' and fixed timeframes for its clients as they build iPhone, Android, and web apps for startups and businesses wanting to scale.