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Forget about your SEO investment. Disregard your PPC budget. B2B marketers should be asking themselves,“Am I getting all I can from search engines… for free?” Consider this: searching is the second most popular online activity today — second only to email. In fact,comScore (August 2009) estimates that Google alone handles 304 million searches a day. Given this large volume of activity,search engines can tell you a lot about your customers.

Today,I’ll discuss several easy-to-use tools that provide meaningful insights into your customers’ needs,emerging market trends,and competitive market threats.

Market research at a price you can afford!

Web analytics tools provide insight into the people who have already found your website. Alternatively,search engines can tell you about the entire online population. In fact,this collective set of data can be viewed as a gigantic,publicly available research study; your very own focus group. And all at no charge!

Every year,marketers spend millions of dollars on research in order to determine how customers think; what they are looking for; and how people view a company relative to the competition. I propose that many of these insights can be gleaned from (free) search data.

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What is the best trend tracking tool that you have used?