3 Free Online Tools for Customer Insights + Win a Copy of Youtility [GIVEAWAY]

This is a special guest spot by Jay Baer of Convince & Convert.

Stop trying to be amazing online and start being useful. I don’t mean this in a Trojan-horse, “tweet that pretends to be useful but is actually a sales pitch” way. I mean a genuine, “how can we actually help you?” way.

This is Youtility, and, quite simply, companies that practice it are followed, subscribed to, bookmarked, and kept on the home screen of mobile devices. Companies that don’t… aren’t. Not because they are worse companies, but because they are trying to create customer connections based on product and price, and customers are both tired of it and able to filter through it more than ever.

Youtility is marketing upside down. Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers.

But for your marketing to be so useful that people would gladly pay for it, you have to understand what your prospective customers need to make better decisions, and how you can improve their lives by providing it.

You must align what you provide your customers and prospects with what they actually need, and often in ways that transcend the transactional.

Fortunately, as knowing more about your customers has increased in importance, so have the tools available to gain that understanding. There are a variety of free (or nearly so) approaches that you can use to better understand customer needs on the way to creating Youtility.

Search engine data is the atlas for consumer understanding.

While the number of places consumers go to seek information has grown exponentially, weakening somewhat the role of search engines in the process, search engines (especially Google) stand alone in giving us the ability to mine and analyze consumer inquiry data.

Google Trends

A variety of free tools from Google can help you understand customer needs, based on what people are looking for, and when. Google Trends enables you to compare search volume patterns across location and time frame, and provides related search terms and comparative volume for them.

For example, imagine you were Sterling Ball from Big Poppa Smokers, an e-commerce site and online community for BBQ smoker enthusiasts (like me). Imagine you were thinking about starting a new, online forum dedicated to a method of outdoor cooking growing in popularity. An analysis of “pellet smokers” on Google Trends shows a sharp spike in searches for that term in the United States from 2008 onward.

Digging deeper, Google Trends shows that Texas and California have disproportionate high incidences of search volume for “pellet smokers,” and that “pellet grills smokers” and “traeger smokers” (a popular brand) are related queries used by searchers.


An even simpler tool is to use Google Suggest to better understand how consumers see your products and services. Type a company or product name into Google and see what Google “suggests” as possible searches. Typing in “Charmin” for example, finds these suggestions: “charmin coupons,” “charmin mega roll,” and “charmin toilet paper” as well as something called “charming charlie.”

This information is updated instantly and is useful for understanding who consumers think your competitors are, and how you stack up. “Type in your company or product name, then put the word ‘vs.’ in and take your hands off the keyboard,” recommends Google’s Jim Lacinski. “Because marketing managers always think they know what the evoked set or the competitive set is because, ‘We’ve done 20 focus groups all across the country…’ Well, that’s cool but let’s see what Google says based on actual queries that people are actually comparing you against,” he says.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool


A longstanding favorite of the inbound marketing community, Google’s Keyword Tool is often used to determine which search terms to include in a paid, search engine advertising campaign.

Starting with one or a handful or hundreds of seed terms, the keyword tool will then recommend a swath of alternatives and display comparative search volume and level of competition (number of existing advertisers per term).

Using the Keyword Tool with a seed term of “Facebook advertising,” for example, finds that Google recommends “facebook advertising cost,” “free facebook advertising,” “facebook advertisement,” “facebook advertising statistics,” and “facebook and advertising” as the top five alternatives based on relevance, and “facebook advertising costs” is shown with 8,100 monthly searches on average by consumers, with a high level of competition.

In addition to Google’s free tool, there are a number of other keyword tools available, including some that are more sophisticated and detailed. An excellent blog post from Arnie Kuenn, President of interactive marketing firm Vertical Measures, provides 12 alternatives to consider.

Google Correlate

Google Correlate is the newest of the free Google tools, and it is essentially Google Trends in reverse. The tool allows you to research a term and see what other searches were being performed with similar volume at a similar point in time, or in the same regions. It’s outstanding when used to uncover seasonal and location-specific inquiry patterns.

For example, Google Correlate shows that the search term “pellet smokers” has a .8947 correlation with the search term “big 12 basketball standings” across the entire country, but the correlation in Kansas (where two of the Big 12 members’ universities are located) has a correlation of 4.814. If Big Poppa Smokers wants to find a way to provide exceptionally useful marketing for its customers in Kansas (and throughout the Big 12 region), a program that sends text messages with instant basketball score updates might make for a successful implementation.

Youtility is about finding ways to be part of your customers’ lives that transcend the transactional. And the only way to do that well is to know your customers better than ever. Thankfully, online tools are available to help you accumulate that knowledge.

Excerpt from Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype, by Jay Baer on Slideshare. 

Win a copy of Youtility by Jay Baer!

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  1. says

    Hello Mr. Bayer,

    Thank you for the post. From all the three free tools the most interesting one for me is Google Correlates. I will check it and see how it works. Thanks.

    Now, a few words about the message you promote … .
    I really don’t know how far can the merging process go. How much “humanization” can really be applied to the commercial relationships?
    If you want to say that in the future companies will know more about their customers and use that information to design better commercial relationships, then I agree. It is the future.
    However, when the merging process goes too far, the privacy of people will be affected. The companies will know too much about their customers and this will generate countless abuses. In the end it will happen the same thing as with old outbound marketing techniques. People will avoid companies that are too nosy and wish them “Happy birthday!” way too often.
    Even more. People will see this as a dangerous intrusion in their lives and will develop the same mental block as with ads. They will consider relationship marketing, for example, as a subtle and extremely dangerous form of intrusion. Millions of people will avoid online firms and this will lead to an explosion of brick and mortar business. Social networks will be greatly affected.
    You cannot be friends with everybody and cannot create relationships with everybody.

    2. “For he first time companies have to compete on the very same turf as our family and friends.” Well, this will be the end of any small business that tries to survive online. When you are a small business you cannot compete with the big names because they had a lot of resources that can use: teams, money, information, products, experts, sites. It will be terrible for the competition.
    The Chinese have a saying: When the Yang grows too much it becomes Ying and when the Ying grows too much it becomes Yang.” This happens in marketing as in any other domain.
    When everybody will do what you are saying the whole “thing” will collapse.

    Have a nice day
    Silviu just posted Increase Exposure and Traffic with a Viral Content Contest

  2. says

    Hi Jay and Kristi,

    Thanks to Jay for sharing some of the tool and its YOUtility. Google correlate is something that I heard for the first time and I am sure, it is going to help me. I sometimes just think how much more I need to learn. Its such a huge sea.

    Thanks Kristi for bringing in Jay to share his deep informative thoughts with us. A rich resource of information and knowledge.
    Ashutosh just posted Best Career Option For You