Crystal Ball Marketing Campaigns

Don’t you wish you had a crystal ball sometimes to help you plan your marketing campaigns? One that could tell you what messages will resonate in the future—and which parts of the country, or even the globe, to target them to?

We don’t have a crystal ball here at Innate, but we do use the next best thing: Google Trends.

If you haven’t used this search-related tool from Google yet, it charts trends in search words and phrases over time and by location so you can see which ones are up and coming, and where. What’s more, you can compare sets of words to see which ones have the highest level of interest.

Want to see it in action? Check out Google’s Oscar Search Trends, a specialized version of Trends focusing on the 2011 Academy Awards nominees. Now that the Oscars are over, you can easily see how trending words corresponded to levels of public interest as well as—most of the time—the actual winners.

Here are some ways to use Google Trends to plan your next marketing campaign:

Back the right horse

In the Oscar Search Trends example, you can see all 5 nominees in the individual categories (and all 10 in Best Picture) plotted against each other over time. Eventual winner Natalie Portman trends far and above her competitors in Best Actress, which translated into the little gold man she took home Sunday night. Unsure which of two or more phrases or concepts will work best for your campaign? Compare them with Trends and start with the strongest candidate. (Even better: compare several and run an A/B test on the best two.)

See the future

Just because one idea is stronger now, doesn’t mean it will stay that way. In the past 30 days, Best Supporting Actress nominees Hailee Steinfeld (from “True Grit”) and Helena Bonham Carter (from “The King’s Speech”) both had interest spikes, but Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”) overtook both of them in the last days before the ceremony—and was the eventual winner. Don’t just look at how your selected keywords are performing now; look at where they’re going over time, and check back in 30 days to see if the trending has remained consistent.

Get local

Sometimes trends vary widely over a geographic area. “Black Swan” had the highest regional interest in Ireland, while “The Fighter” scored highest in Mexico and “Inception” was most popular in Singapore. Look for local or even global interest levels for your campaign keywords and target accordingly. What resonates in Portland might not work at all in Peoria.

Of course, using Trends just gets you started. You’ll want to closely monitor your campaigns to look for opportunities to optimize them, as well as checking in again with Trends every 30 days or so to get the latest forecast. Just like the weather, it’ll change again.

Your Turn:

  • Are you using Google Trends to forecast marketing campaign keywords?
  • How do you plan which words and concepts to use?
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