I’m big on free web tools – and there are a lot of them out there. If you’re unfamiliar, you’d be amazed at the great research they can provide. Tools like SEMRush, Compete.com and Quantcast. These tools allow users to find backlinks to any site, as well as profiling data for primary site visitors. These tools assess sites which “own” desired keyword phrases and show traffic patterns over time. All good stuff. Yet taking the thought a step further, these tools can also help determine something more – an illustration of consumer interest and demand.
The predominant behavior today equates to people searching online for what they want (or want to know more about). Even the traditional emphasis on W.O.M. (word-of-mouth marketing) today exists in the form of consumer online reviews and recommendations. I like to call this content demand. Just as real-world products exist in supply-and-demand, the web reveals a content supply-and-demand. In some cases, people are merely searching for information – and sites like Wikipedia and WebMD serve them well. But in many cases keywords and phrases are indications of more than mere casual info-search; they represent consumers in need – with problems to be solved.
Take for example a topic very near and dear to my heart, as a relative of mine is currently battling cancer. Cancer and other serious illnesses have been early leaders in active, online social communities driven by the groundswell – because they represent people in need, people in pain, and people seeking others with specific symptoms or remedies. Not one’s neighbors or close friends – but people in the know. In my own case, as the time surrounding my relative grows more intense, and more and more of my thoughts are consumed, it is natural for me to search for information online.
There are undoubtedly many others like me. And it is conceivable for us to have sentiments and to search for terms such as “cancer donations,” hoping some day enough research will cure the problem. Likewise, the worthy causes devoted to cancer research should be easy to find. But the big advantage here for such organizations lies in the power of these online tools. Just by researching the keyword phrase “cancer donations,” Google Trends provides a wealth of data. Results here show that the primary cities where people have searched for these keywords in the last 12 months have been Chicago and New York City. Yet in addition to the states occupying those cities, primary states have included Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and California. So now we have something grand – target markets for very worthy causes seeking funding for their research. We can likewise see that such searches are almost non-existent in summer and around the holidays, yet peak in October (early 4th quarter).
So, in much less than the time it takes me to write this, these tools can identify new potential markets for donors, and the optimal months of their interest – all for free. Therefore, to the great causes and non-profits out there – make the best of such power – find the people in pain, or wanting to give, and help them out.
Jake Aull is a web designer and digital/social marketer, a branding and creative marketing provider, and all around good guy. He teaches GSU’s first social media marketing and SEO course, is chair of the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association Social Media SIG, co-founder of The Change Challenge digital marketing for non-profits, and president of SCAD Alumni in Atlanta. He is the principle of Zen of Brand, offering digital marketing sites and services www.zenofbrand.com. He writes a popular blog on digital marketing issues www.jakeaull.wordpress.com and is always eager to expand networking and learn more about organizations.