Whether you run a business or an agency, there will always come a time when you will have to gain insight about a number of things. You might need to understand your market better, or your clients’ business better. Regardless of the kind of information you need, online research will always help you gain insight. However, it is easy to feel lost when looking for information online. It is also quite futile to look for information in all the wrong places.
Thankfully, there are many tools and methods available today to conduct online research. While the good old Google search still matters, you can now use social media, artificial intelligence and even data analytics to get the insight you need. You may not be able to do it all by yourself, and sometimes, you may require the assistance of an external partner to conduct your online searches.
To help you better, we have put up a list of 5 tips that will help you to gain insight using online research.
1. Use search engines
The best place to begin your online research is on a search engine. The most commonly used search engine is of course, Google. However, it is not as simple as typing your query and getting the insight you need. You’ll need to make sure that you use the right keyword combinations and look for information on credible websites and online resources. Always remember, every search result that Google brings up isn’t always credible, and you’ll need to use your judgment before considering it as insight.
While 57% of people prefer mobile devices to search, the rest of the 43% chooses desktop searches. Mobile devices allow you to search by voice as well.
Read this Time magazine article about doing Google searches in a better manner.
2. Ask someone online
If you can’t find it online, your next stop should be social media. Depending on the kind of business insight you need, you can either approach someone on LinkedIn or Twitter for specific information. Regularly evaluating message groups and Twitter threads on your chosen topic can be insightful too. You can subscribe to specific topics so that you can compile all the information that’s relevant and then qualitatively analyze all that information for rich insights.
More than 3 billion people use some form of social media in 2018.
This Hootsuite blog tells you how to ask for things on social media.
3. Use message boards
If the information you need is very specialized and you’re not able to find it either in Google or on social media, you can subscribe to specialized message boards. Some of them may require a membership fee and others may only let in specific people. However, online message boards are still some of the best places to get the information you need quickly and reliably. Most importantly, you can cross-verify the information and insight you get on message boards with other sources.
According to this Pew Research data, 18% of message board users tend to earn more than $75,000 per annum, which means they tend to be in good positions and have access to knowledge or they are experts themselves.
This article succinctly explains how to get the most out of message boards.
4. Use a combination approach
If you’re not happy with the approach of using just one method, you can combine all the methods mentioned above or pick and choose different methods to arrive at insights. Usually, using a combination of artificial intelligence and predictive data analysts is the right approach to gain insights via online research. Of course, you’ll need the assistance of professionals who use these tools to help you with your online research. A combination approach also helps you arrive at more precise insights.
AI and predictive analysis can actually give you an edge while conducting online research.
5. Get someone to do your research
Lastly, if you do not have adequate time or staff, it is always better to outsource your online research tasks to an external vendor. Right from running simple Google searches to complex artificial intelligence-fueled research, an online research agency can fulfill all your insight requirements. You’ll only need to use the insight to conduct your business better. You won’t have to waste your limited temporal or financial resources on conducting online researches. All you need to do is make sure they cater to boutique agencies’ requirements. Both primary and secondary research needs can be taken care of by vendors.
In fact, 57% of people use outsourcing to focus on core business activities.
Choose the approach most convenient for you
As you can see, online research can be conducted in multiple ways. However, start small and try advanced methods when rudimentary approaches will not help solve your problems. When everything else fails, you can always approach an external vendor that specializes in online research and data analytics. You will not only save time and money, but will be able to focus on your core business activities.
Getting the right insight at the right time is key to address key issues concerning your business. When you have the insight you need at the right time, you will be able to achieve your goals quickly, whatever they might be.