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The Number One Tool for Marketers to Stay on Top of the Game

Besides pumpkin spice lattes, the most anticipated events of the year begin when autumn rolls around—back to school, Halloween, Black Friday and Christmas. Work productivity tends to drop around this time but it is undoubtedly the busiest quarter of the year for retailers! (Fun fact: did you know that they start preparing 4~6 months in advance?)

As a marketer, we all know how important data is to always stay on top. But where do we get that data to guide us on effective holiday promotions? While experience trumps the me-too way of marketing, you don't need to prepare in the dark; there are valuable, free online tools you can use to stay ahead of your competitors.

Surprisingly, the number one resource that many marketers neglect is Google!

After speaking to many professionals in the marketing field, it comes as a surprise that a majority of them do not use Google for their research. We are not talking about typing into Google search or browsing on Google Trends; rather, there is a dandy reports and tools hub called “Think with Google.”

What is Think with Google?

Quoting from the “Think with Google” English site, it is a “resource for everything from high-level insights to deck-ready stats to useful tools.” Essentially, Google uses data that it collects from its other products, such as Google search, YouTube, and Google Analytics to name a few. Marketers and data analysts will “decode” the data and summarize key findings in articles and reports.

In Think with Google, you can explore past trends, what people are looking up during important recent events (such as the U.S. election) and even future predictions. These reports are incredibly useful to marketers, whether they are just doing research or planning the next campaign. Consider Think with Google as an upgrade from Google Trends, where you can only see data and attempt to interpret it yourself ( which should just serve as a rough guide to begin your market research), as opposed to professionally organised and analysed data.

Let’s Think with Google (Example in Action)

When you first land on the page, choose a region/language that corresponds to your market. You are free to browse its home or you can filter based on topics, such as Consumer Goods, Advertising, Travel, Search, etc. Regardless of your business’s industry, you will find information that you can absorb and apply in your next marketing plan.

Let's say you are the digital marketing manager of a local American clothing company. Visit the Think with Google—US English site and from there you can go to Consumer Trends to browse major insights of US consumers, or you can go to More Topics→ Retail to find relevant articles. On the other hand, the search bar is always a good place to go if you want to be efficient.

In this year’s Think with Google, there is a report on top fashion trends of 2016. Not only can you use the contents of this article to guide your product development process, you can also use it to craft PR and marketing plans. Let’s use their key findings as examples:

  • Bomber jackets are the new uniform;

  • Off the shoulder, kimonos, and boho outfits are still growing in popularity;

  • Rompers are highly sought after.

Well, if you are the buyer of a local clothing shop, you definitely want to stock up your shelves with these items. Other important insight from this report is that search volume can indicate popularity, while “context” search terms indicate opportunity.

The example given in the above report says that gender and age lines are blurring, as people are searching for terms like “bomber jacket men” or “bomber jacket baby.” Other findings are people search for the same item, but using different “occasion” keywords; so instead of searching for “rompers,” consumers add “wedding rompers,” “formal rompers,” or “festival rompers.”

How can you use this information as a marketer? Keyword targeting of course! Depending on what your target audience is, you should definitely compete for these contextual keywords. Chances for you to rank higher too if you’re able to find a unique set of keywords to target.

Besides using this information directly in your media plan, you should also use this information and share it on your business’s blog. Because we are all grabbing for attention, you want to stand out by being a key trend-spotter or knowledge aggregator. The popularity of your products can ebb and flow with time and external factors, but you being the “key opinion leader” in your industry will not be easily challenged if you can provide ADDED, and unexpected value to your customers.

Another nifty feature in Think with Google is a tool called “Shopping Trends.” While this may be a bit dated ( at the time this article is written, October 2016, Shopping Trends is still stuck at July 2016 data), you can get a sense of what’s been trending. Well, how can past data help you as a marketer? Say you are a transnational company or you are looking to expand overseas. Using past data can help you understand the country or geography’s consumers more—and thereby you can devise a more targeted campaign.

Last Notes

Don’t forget to also subscribe to the Think with Google newsletter so you can get regular updates when they publish new reports. (Pro tip: Change your location/language to subscribe to another market's reports!)

There are endless ways you can use these reports, interviews and case studies! Be creative in your endeavours and you will stand out in the crowded marketplace. Lastly, are there other tools and products that marketers should explore more? What do you read and use to help you become a better marketer? Share in the comments!

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