What do customers want? Or, more importantly, what can you sell them? If you aren’t using keyword research  as part of the development of new products, then you’re missing out on an untapped resource of new ideas, as well as gaining valuable insight into what customers have already indicated they want. In this guide we’ll show you some great shortcuts to finding this vital consumer data with keyword research.
Let Customers Tell You What They Want
No longer a standalone feature, as you type keywords into Google, the search engine will attempt to complete your thought based on popular queries. This autocomplete feature helps show what customers are already actively seeking, and unfulfilled niches where you can make money.
Your results will only be as good as the keyword you put in initially so it’s best to search for your:
- Brand name (e.g. Apple)
- Product name (e.g. iPod)
- Product type (e.g. MP3 player)
- Industry area (e.g. consumer electronics)
As you enter these items, you’ll get five suggestions, but there are so many more. A manual way to do this is to start the next word. So enter ‘a’ and wait to see what comes up, then ‘b’ etc. until you have finished the alphabet. Taking the example of MP3 player, this helped me identify that customers care about:
- Android operating system
- Battery Life
- Car compatibility
- Expandable memory
- For Mac (e.g. Mac compatibility)
That’s just the first six letters, but already we’re getting a view as to what features customers are interested in. You can also use automatic tools like Keyword Snatcher to grab this data for you, although you still need to manually sort it.
Trust the Data
Next we turn to keyword tools including WordStream and the Google Keyword Tool. Both data sets allow you to get predictions on what customers are seeking and help you confirm suspicions about the data gathered via Google Suggest.
Run the keywords we identified above, and also the brands/product/industry terms, and we’re presented with another data set that has longer tail keywords with new product opportunities.
I use Keyword Eye  to visualize the data, as it shows more popular searches in a larger font and those terms with less competition in a green color. Comparing the two factors for “Tickets” we can see what tickets I should be selling and the best dates for sale:
I’ve filtered the data to just show me keywords with a good search volume and low competition, which tells me I should definitely stock tickets for the below, in this priority order:
- Glastonbury Tickets
- Justin Bieber Tickets
- Michael Buble Tickets
- Paramore Tickets
- Biffy Clyro Tickets
Not only does this tell me the tickets I should be selling, but I can also use it help predict how popular those tickets will be and then purchase stock allocations accordingly. I could also group the data together – in which case Justin Bieber would be a clear winner – for an even clearer indication of customer intent to purchase.
Plan for the Future
These two strategies are great methods of analyzing what customers are talking about now, but what if we want to see the future and what customers want from the next generation of products? In this scenario it’s best to use discussions, Q+A websites and forums to spot user issues and their needs for the future.
On a normal Google search the best way to find these websites is by searching for:
- Brand / Product / Industry Forum
- Brand / Product / Industry Questions
- Brand / Product / Industry Help
- Brand / Product / Industry Problem
Alternatively Google has a built-in section that analyses discussions online, so you can just search for your Brand / Product / Industry name and they’ll do all the hard work for you.
So if we search for flowers we’ll get:
One of the first results is a man’s guide to flowers. For a store owner this makes it clear that men want to know more about flowers, or at least which ones to buy. While you can’t grow a flower for men, you can build this in to your store layout to give men extra help when shopping for flowers, or train staff to better assist male customers. It’s a great piece of actionable business data that will help increases sales to a different demographic.
Searching for your competitors in any of the above ways will present more data to compare and go after. Things to consider:
- Do people want the same things from your competitors products? Can you offer them?
- What problems have people found with your competitor? How can you fix them?
- What keywords are people using for your competitor? Are they relevant to you?
If nothing else, looking at competitor data will help to confirm the data we found earlier, and prove that you have found definite customer needs. From then on it’s a case of creating these products and shaping your business around what customers actually want.
About the Author
Mike Essex is Online Marketing Manager for Digital Marketing Agency Koozai , which offers both organic search and pay-per-click marketing services for clients. They also produce free videos  with marketing tips for SEO, PPC, Analytics and Social Media.