What’s better than Research? Free-search, of course!

What’s better than Research? Free-search, of course!

Catalyst Media Design was founded in part on the principal that agencies shouldn’t just be “trying stuff” with their clients’ valuable marketing dollars—that there should always be a foundation of data and research to better steward and predict the investment.

While we subscribe to a great deal of very valuable paid sources—over the years we have found complementing free research, or “free-search” as we like to call it, to bring additional insights for even greater success. Below are a few of our favorite media and marketing resources, many at no cost, to help your brand or business get a leg up, without the arm and a leg:

Want to see what ads your competitors are running? Head on over to Moat:

Moat.com — Moat offers true cross-device cross-platform analytics on trillions of ad impressions and content views to measure and drive attention. Through this site, it’s also possible to review competitors’ digital creatives and messaging. More than 33 billion times daily, Moat measures real time attention analytics and offers complete accuracy on the industry’s most important metrics as well as more than 50 MRC Accredited Metrics. It also offers real-time optimizations and reports so companies can review and adjust their marketing plans.

Trying to decide what keywords to bid on? I spy SpyFu:

SpyFu.com — SpyFu allows users to download competitors’ most profitable keywords and ads for paid and organic search. For example: Type in a domain name, and SpyFu can reveal every place the company has shown up via Google including any keyword they have purchased on Adwords, every organic rank, and every ad variation over the last 13 years. Through the site, SpyFu offers to help connect companies to the domains they are searching, find online and traditional lead methods that can’t be found elsewhere, increase website traffic, track your own keyword rankings on Google, Bing and Yahoo, and make better connections through which to build partnerships and generate sales leads.

Want a down-and-dirty quick report to help you rank higher on Google? Neil Patel is your new BFF:

NeilPatel.com — Neil Patel’s SEO Analyzeroffers a brief free quiz which will “score” your site and determine how much more traffic you could actually be getting. It also offers customized advice to help businesses drive more traffic, get more engagement and rank higher on Google in less than a month. The site can help analyze your SEO and point out SEO errors that can be amended to increase rankings.

Need help coming up with content ideas? Visit Answer the Public:

AnswerThePublic.com — This site allows you to find keywords as well as ideas for your brand and category to help optimize your content. It also features a Search Insight Beginner’s Course to help you use the Search Insight to understand your customers so you can better connect with them through your marketing efforts.

Want advertising insights from the source? No one has their fingers on the pulse of the public quite like the O.G. (that’s Original Google):

ThinkWithGoogle.com — An online powerhouse, Google offers such a wide array of free resources… why not marketing tips? Think with Google providers users with consumer insights, marketing resources such as data analytics and measurement, user experience and design, monetization, programmatic advertising and more to help companies expand their reach.

Looking for a radio station in a new market?:

Radio-Locator.com — Media veterans are well aware of this site. It’s no frills and exactly what you need to connect with stations around the world. This trusted radio search engine has links to more than 15,300 radio stations’ websites. Users can search for stations around the country via city or zip code, call letters or format, and for radio stations around the world by country, as well as gain quick access to coverage maps and more.

Your Biz Dev team will love this one. Find contact names and email addresses at Hunter.io:

Hunter.io — By simply entering a domain name, users can receive contact names and email addresses to connect with the right contacts within these companies. The site has more than 200 million email addresses indexed and offers 50 free searches each month to help business development team members connect with those elusive prospects.

Want Data, Data, and more Data on the United States and its citizens? Look no further than the US Census!:

Census.gov — For a nearly endless array of demographics, the United States Census Bureau is certainly a wealth of information. Users can explore data and browse an array of topics including business and economy, age and sex, education, population, income, geography and more. Census survey results are also available on a variety of topics.

Want more? Don’t forget about The Internet itself — Search, search away! There are limitless resources and information via the world wide web. Solid research reports and viable articles are available on sites such as Pew Research, eMarketer, The Interactive Advertising Bureau, 4 A’s, HubSpot,  and ComScore.

Feeling a little disconnected? Back away from the computer and make a Site Visit — When searching for insights into your marketing campaign, don’t underestimate the power of good old-fashioned face-to-face experience. Make a site visit, check out the store, talk to employees, and observe what the customers are like. If your product is on store shelves, do some of your own visual analysis including where the product is sold within the store, positioning on shelves, competitors sold alongside it, category pricing and so forth.

When it comes to advertising and driving business results, there are many benefits to doing your own legwork, as well as what can be learned from the myriad of online resources available at your fingertips. A combination of these two, as well as expert professional advice, can be a powerful trio to take your business to the next level.