What I love most about living in today’s world is the speed at which I can find or learn anything I want within seconds. With just a couple of keyboard clicks or a voice command, I’m able to find the artist of that one throwback song that’s stuck in my head or the coolest new restaurant near me. Search engines, like Google, make life easier through its detailed algorithms. By leveraging websites’ SEO (search engine optimization), only the best and most relevant sources are served to users in an organized fashion in SERPs (search engine results pages).
By using Google, users contribute to the growing data pool of search engine data analytics. These analytics are created by combing through historical search data (i.e. past searches that were entered into Google) and extracting insights in various areas like keyword monitoring, ad spend statistics, and trend analysis.
These insights, although they seem very superficial and baseless at first, can yield great direction for social media marketers as they use them to help steer businesses to success. To make this information more accessible and easy for the inexperienced user to understand, Google Trends was created. This feature shows how frequently a search term is entered into Google and displays the total search volume over a given period of time. By comparing the data from different search terms, it is possible to answer questions around your business like:
- Do people search for my brand?
- When does interest spike in my brand?
- Which regions are the most interested in my brand?
- How are my competitors performing?
To help you get a better idea of how this tool can be used to help guide better business decisions, read the fictitious case study below.
JavaJump Coffee Shop
Scenario: I’m the social media manager of a coffee manufacturing company in the US. My company is trying to get into the end-user market by opening 10 drive-through coffee shops somewhere in the country in the next 12 months and following up with another 25 the year after. To ensure success for the future of this investment, management wants to limit the first 10 shops to a specific area of the country. Building shops in only 2 or 3 states close to headquarters feels like a safe bet.
My Job: We need all of the managers to come together to help zero in on where to start. As the social media manager, I’ll be using Google Trends to prepare a report to help back my position for where we should open our first 10 stores and where our next 25 might be opened.
My JavaJump Coffee Shop Report
JavaJump is an independent coffee manufacturer based in New Jersey. After seeing steady growth within their market, we would like to pursue opening up drive-through brick and mortar stores in an effort to sell our products directly to the end user. Using Google Trends, I was able to answer the following questions about our new business venture.
Who is our competition?
To help us determine our competition, I used Google Trends to compare the search interest of general coffee shops to large, branded coffee corporations like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. Because JavaJump is fictitious, trying to analyze the performance of the company name would not make sense. Using the general search term “coffee shop” evens out the lineup. From what we can see, Starbucks dominates. It will be wise to watch how they interact with communities, how they handle the operation of new locations, and document where and when they release new products.
Where should we open our stores?
As we are based in NJ, there are a couple of states to choose from where we could potentially open our drive-through stores: CT, DE, NY, & PA. Using Google trends, I researched the terms “coffee NJ” and “coffee shop NJ” and compared them with the results found for the other states. In the above slideshow, you can see that the interest in coffee and coffee shops in NJ is pretty high and the search term is highest in Pennsylvania and New York. While Delaware and Connecticut have a great amount of interest in coffee and coffee shops, it doesn’t directly overlay with interest with those in New Jersey. This is important because we want the most interest to be centered in our home state, where our business and brand equity is its strongest.
Another thing we should consider is the culture of the area we are launching in and where they frequent. New Jersey is centered right in between two of the biggest cities in the United States. Because of this NJ residents often commute to NYC and Philadelphia frequently for work, pleasure, and sometimes even move out of state to their neighbors. The cross-pollination of residents/potential customers means that we should follow them for revenue opportunities. We are lucky to have our headquarters in NJ because this also means visitors from both PA and NY will also have the chance to experience our product. From these findings and cultural behaviors, we should open our stores in NJ, PA, and NY.
When opening our first ten stores, I believe we should disperse 3 in NJ, 3 in PA, and 4 in NY. The trends image above indicates that metro areas and the large cities in the three states show the largest interest in “coffee NJ.” Based on this information, here is where I would consider opening our stores:
New Jersey Locations: 1 in Newark, 1 in Jersey City, and 1 in Elizabeth
Pennsylvania Locations: 2 in Philadelphia, 1 in Pittsburgh
New York Locations: 2 in NYC, 1 in Rochester, 1 in Buffalo
These locations give us enough presence in the large cities and metro areas while still allowing our company to reach across the states of Pennsylvania and New York. New Jersey was a special case as we paid special attention to the major commuting towns with larger populations. Overall, I believe this mix gives us a great starting point. If the first year is successful, then we can focus on opening stores throughout the rest of New Jersey and the more suburban areas of Pennsylvania and New York.
When should we open our stores?
If we look back at the slideshow above, we can see that the search for “coffee” and “coffee shop” spikes in the months of September, October, January, and February. I believe this might be because of several reasons. The first being that September marks the beginning of the school year. Regardless of if they commute to NY or PA, students also love coffee. To cope with waking up early after summer break, caffeine is their go-to fix. In October, many coffee shops also release special seasonal favorites like pumpkin spice, cinnamon, maple, and chestnut praline drinks. In January and February, the weather is quite frigid and it doesn’t surprise me if people wanted something warm to keep them comfortable.
After doing some research, it can take between 4-6 months to complete the construction of a drive-through location. That being said, I believe that we begin construction in March so that we have an operational store open to the public in late July/early August so that we can tap into the coffee craze later on that year. Construction during the summer months is smart because the population starts to lean away from hot drinks in balmy weather and a majority will be on vacation. Hitting them with a launch when vacation season is over, gives us the chance to make the biggest bang and a good first impression to the community.
How do we know where to open the next 25 stores?
As I previously mentioned, the insights we have found thus far have given us enough information to dictate where we should open the next installment of stores. If we look at the cities we chose for the first ten, we should aim to “connect the dots” so that we have an even dispersion of stores throughout each state. This would mean scattering a few in between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, adding in more locations to Central and South Jersey, and venturing north and east within NY state. Taking into consideration the commuting patterns of our audience, as well as the locations our competitors reside, will largely dictate our next moves.
What does JavaJump need to do to ensure success from a digital standpoint?
From a digital standpoint, JavaJump needs to make sure that the announcement of opening new stores is put out WELL in advance of them actually opening. Paid and organic posts on social media can also help us determine which areas are most excited for a JavaJump in their location in tandem with what we already found/are proposing. The JavaJump website should include a page for the company’s locations and we should use SEO best practices so that we can appear in the line up of stores that appear when someone searches “coffee near me.” We might also want to consider investing in paid here as well, but this will need to come AFTER we have our stores up and running. To increase our credibility and build excitement, we should focus on media pickup and backlinks. These will tremendously help our SEO ranking and help to get the news of the new stores out to our audiences. Finally, we need to be consistent. Updates should be pulled through on all of our digital platforms so that we always stay top of mind and look good while doing it. If all of these requirements are met, we should be well prepared for phase two of our brick and mortar drive-through stores.