Validate Your Marketing with Google Trends

By Roy Keely, Xcentric

A silver bullet marketing idea is a farce. There is always more behind the scenes of any successful marketing campaign than a mere "idea." In addition, success of a campaign depends largely on your firm's makeup, goals, and demographics and cannot be reduced to one single initiative. It takes hitting on all cylinders to really make a difference from one year to the next.
A favorite marketing quote that I tend to come back to is "small hinges swing big doors." The small hinge in this example is speaking the language of your target market across all mediums. This includes websites, presentations, mail pieces, etc. It is not easy to drill down the language at large, but it is made easier given the technology tools, like Google Trends, that are now available at our fingertips.
Many of us marketers go off of our "gut" which can get us in trouble as many times as it can aid us. Google Trends allows us to test our gut with TONS of data (catchy term these days is "Big Data") that is free and readily available. 
How to Use Google Trends
Example: You are starting a blog or a new section on your website whereby you hope to give advice to your personal tax clients. You plan to notify your clients via e-mail and mail regarding the blog/new section in order to get traction on the site quicker than by pure organic growth.
Question: What wording should you use to reflect the language used in the market at large? Would "tax advice" be better than "tax strategy" or "tax help"? What about "tax tips"?
Solution: Use Google Trends to learn how people pair the word "tax" with what they are searching for – advice, strategy, help, or tips. The Google Trends graph below shows the results. 
Google Trends analysis tips:
  • Make sure you narrow your search to where your client base is; for example, the United States. Otherwise, Google Trends will analyze the entire world wide web, which could skew your results. You can even narrow down to a region or state. 
  • Keep in mind that the Google Trends analysis is reflective of all searches, not necessarily your target market. This is more relevant of an exercise for a tax shop focused on individuals of all kinds versus the shop that goes after SEC audits. Either way, the results can provide you with helpful data. 
Interpreting data: In the graph below, you can see that potential clientele want "help" more than "advice" or "strategy." You can then take that information and start using the word "help" across all mediums, versus some of the other terms in the graph, since it is striking more of a chord with the example audience.
"Related" and "rising" terms: The above graph demonstrates only a fraction of the value gained via Google Trends. The real gold is found in "related" and "rising" terms, which you can see on the interactive full report. In the lower right of the report, you will see a few terms as they relate to the master term, "tax," as well as things to have on your radar. The "rising" search terms are the types of things you should blog about because they are topics of rising interest.
About the author:
Roy Keely is the VP of Market Strategy at Xcentric and is charged with articulating Xcentric's value proposition to the accounting community. Roy offers a broad range of experience in marketing, sales, and consulting and is passionate about technology, productivity, and market strategy. He enjoys writing and speaking to professional service firms looking to bring practical insight and action to their firms and was recognized in The CPA Practice Advisor "40 Under 40″ for 2012. Roy graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in marketing. He can be reached at or (678) 297-0066 ext. 525.
© 2012 Xcentric LLC

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