Simplifying the market research process by using reviews

The year was 2012. I was working as a consultant at a large consulting firm, but my mind was elsewhere. I had a dream of working for myself, not for some corporate machine. I figured that if I could own my time, I would be the richest man in the world – so I set out to do it, and I planned to make it happen by starting a software company. The first step? Do proper market research.

Setting aside the fact that I knew nothing about coding, I realized that to do well, I needed to have both visibility, and a product that people wanted to use. This meant I needed to know the market.

But how?

The truth is, I didn’t have time (or money) to hire some outside firm to do market research for me. That probably wouldn’t have been the best idea anyway.

I had basic intuition that the market could use the product I was working on, but I needed a way to craft my messaging and position myself in a space that was dominated by huge, venture funded players.

So, I did what most people do when they have questions: I turned to Google. Specifically, reviews.

The way I saw it, I needed to know what people thought of the software they were using and where they believed it was lacking. I also wanted to know what they liked, so I could make sure that I also included that in my product (if not right away, eventually).

Reviews are an easy, content-rich way to find ideas and craft your sales message.

Buried within product reviews is a goldmine, you just have to know where to look. You’ll find out things like:

  • What people love
  • What people hate
  • Submarkets in your primary market
  • Ideas for your product or service (or new ones altogether)
  • How your competition is doing

And the list goes on.

Honestly, if you are short on ideas, then heading over to the reviews that are available in your market can give you plenty! Certainly enough if you are just starting out.

Depending on your product, you may need to research where you can find the most helpful reviews. It will depend on your market as well. Some of the more popular third-party websites worth checking include:

  • Capterra
  • G2
  • TrustRadius
  • Google Reviews
  • Facebook Reviews
  • Amazon Reviews
  • Shopify Reviews
  • Reviews
  • TrustPilot

Your market may have some other popular options worth investigating, so make sure to check those out, too.

Chances are that if you are operating in a mature market, there will be plenty of reviews available to you for investigating. You should analyze your own reviews (assuming you have them), the feedback given to your direct competitors, as well as any reviews left for complimentary products or services. This should give you a full, 360-degree view of market desires.

You are probably wondering: what should you look for in the reviews?

Naturally, getting the reviews is easy for most people, but the more challenging part is knowing exactly what to look for in the reviews that they find.

First, it’s best to filter by five stars and one stars. These will give you the strongest opinions. Strong opinions often come with the most expressive language. These can make great headlines on your sales page!

For example, consider this review for Convertkit:

WordPress review to read during market research.

A few things jump out to me when reading this. First, the keyword phrase Best Email Marketing Tool is probably something worth targeting in both sales copy, and in content marketing. It’s simple and descriptive (and long-tailed, meaning it could be an easy win).

Speaking of descriptive, we also see benefits listed! Things like “user-friendly”, and “feature-rich”, “easy to navigate”, and “full of templates”. I’m not saying you would use all of these, but they start to give you an idea of what people want.

Of course, this is only one review. You should note the key points, and then research other reviews to look for patterns. For example, you may find that all the five-star reviews take note of how user-friendly the software is to use. Well, this can then influence your headlines on your sales site. You really lean into the ease of use angle, and you will be speaking to a large segment of potential customers – because clearly this is something they want!

See the power of reviews? And this is just scratching the surface!

But let’s have a look at a one-star and see if we can extract anything useful from it. This time, looking at an individual feedback point for the popular WordPress shopping cart, WooCommerce:

WooCommerce review for example market research

This individual is obviously not happy with the software, their main complaint being that it is bloated and slows down their website. Yes, he does complain about an upsell to other options, but that’s less important here. We are looking for actionable insights.

Something I notice at the end of the review is a suggestion to search for “WooCommerce Bloat”. I searched this term, and I see that someone is already profiting from fixing this obvious pain-point!

See how easy that can be to find ideas for new products? Or, you can use this pain-point to influence the marketing language you use for your own solution. For example, SureCart is new on the scene for WordPress shopping cart solutions. Emphasizing how their solution is “lightweight” would be a good thing to do!

The market research process cannot be rushed. Make sure to take your time for best results.

Digging for gold takes time. Don’t speed through the research process or jump to conclusions. That can be really tempting, but the reality is you will want to have the full picture of what people are saying about your product and the other options in your market. There are likely several themes, and you can’t pick every one of them. You will want to choose the one(s) that speak to the most people, but differentiate your business from everyone else.

Pace yourself. Create a folder where you can store the reviews that you collect and the notes you make on what you discover. It’s important to stay organized!

Or, if you prefer to automate some of this process, then sign up to be notified when GapScout is available! We will help save you time by aggregating the important reviews and highlighting potential market insights for you to use!

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Justin Ferriman
Justin Ferriman
Justin is the founder of GapScout, the easiest way for solopreneurs and small businesses to find profitable gaps in their market. Follow Justin on Twitter→

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