One of the golden rules of marketing is to know your audience. That knowledge typically comes as a result of conducting in-depth research. Some business owners and marketers may forgo market research because they assume it will be too expensive. However, there are many free online resources available for research purposes, including:
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a treasure trove of data on labor market activity, working conditions, inflation, wages, consumer spending, import and export prices, and other economic indicators. The federal agency also produces reports regarding productivity, demographics, business costs, “green” jobs and profiles of hundreds of careers. Employment statistics are provided at the local, state, national and international level, and there are dozens of databases available, as well as career guides.
- eMarketer provides information on the areas of digital marketing, media and commerce, compiling data from multiple sources to provide marketing professionals, business owners and others with the latest industry news and trends. Topics covered include search, mobile, social media, email, and advertising and marketing. Data also is categorized by industry, including healthcare and retail, and by geographic region.
- The U.S. Census Bureau is a valuable source of data about the nation’s people and economy. The federal agency’s reports offer information on population, demographics, immigration, housing, government, earnings and languages, as well as economic profiles of specific regions. The Business and Industry section provides data about various sectors of the economy, including manufacturing, construction and retail.
- The Bureau of Economic Analysis, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, produces statistics and reports about the nation’s economic activity, including gross domestic product, personal income, research and development, international trade, consumer spending, corporate profits, travel and tourism, and investment. Data is available for specific states and metropolitan areas.
- The World Factbook, which is produced by the Central Intelligence Agency, provides profiles on the nations of the world, including information about their history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation and military. Website visitors can also find political and regional maps of the world, and images of each nation’s flag. The Economy category offers information about taxes, and budget surpluses and deficits.
Research is a critical component of developing and launching an effective marketing campaign, and it doesn’t need to be a complicated or expensive undertaking given the wealth of free online resources. It’s important for marketers to collect data from as many relevant and reliable sources as possible, and analyze the information with an eye toward tailoring campaigns to their target audience.