Where Marketers Go for Information, Part 1: Free Resources

My last column focused on the danger of blindly following others’ advice to make business decisions. Research, case studies, and advice abound. They’re are often helpful — if you use caution and your own judgment before applying what you learn.

Which are the trusted sources for ideas, data, case studies, or advice? If you’re blessed with a big budget, you can buy them. If not, you probably scour the Web for information. Most of us have a set of sites we visit (ClickZ obviously being one of them) when we want to stay on top of the game.

This series will examine current valuable information sources. Today, a look at where marketers go for free information. Whether current events, competitive information, data to use in a forecast, or just a few good ideas, there are numerous free sources for those willing to do the legwork. And always remember: use good judgment.

Industry Analysts

  • Jupiter Research (a Jupitermedia Corp. division). Jupiter’s site offers free multimedia Webinars, both live and via archive. I most recently viewed “Embracing Abandonment: Luring Back Consumers with Personalized Communications,” which includes background on the subject, relevant statistics, case studies, and practical advice.

    You can also read analysts’ blogs. They offer the analysts’ take on current events and quite often links to yet-undiscovered sources of information. Gary Stein‘s blog is a good place to start; he’s the analyst for Online Advertising and Marketing.

  • Forrester Research. In addition to its core customer-only section, Forrester provides free research, primarily current-events-focused briefs, to registered guests. The free stuff is clearly marked so you don’t waste time digging around. After you register, click “My Forrester.” You’ll find the free content under “Free Research.”

    Registered guests can also sign up for industry-specific email newsletters. Most links are useless unless you’re a customer, but the newsletter’s content provides enough insight to get you thinking.

  • Gartner. Gartner’s IT focus may scare some marketers away, but there’s still relevant free content to be found. My favorite is the Vendor Ratings tool, useful for evaluating potential purchases or partnerships. In the News provides analysts’ take on current events. You can sign up for the blog email list.
  • ComScore MediaMetrix. The Company News section, located on the home page, contains links to ComScore’s press releases. These often contain statistical or anecdotal data that can be helpful and thought-provoking. One release summarized consumer behavior related to Valentine’s Day, including results of a survey about respondents’ gift-buying intentions. This may prove helpful in planning for next year’s big day. Also in press releases you’ll find its ranking of the top 50 Internet properties each month.
  • Nielsen//NetRatings. Nielsen//NetRatings shares some of its top findings for free in a special site section. Browse the top rankings section to find its latest rankings of the most popular ad sizes, monthly and weekly parent company rankings, and monthly and weekly average Web usage statistics. Subscribe to a current-events-based e-newsletter, or view the current newsletter from the NetRatings site. Press releases can also reveal information tidbits.
  • Vividence. Vividence’s Research Library includes a list of industry reports on research that the company has conducted. The downside: You must register to receive certain reports via email. Best Practices reports a good source of ideas. Some research is geared toward a specific industry, such as automotive or pharmaceutical, while other research is focused more on online experience and strategy.

There are so many sources of information. I’m just getting started, so stay tuned for part two. In the meantime, click here and tell me where you go for free data, ideas, competitive intelligence, or industry information.

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