Research is important to the success of any business and you don’t need a big budget to get a better understanding of the behaviour of your customers. There are a number of free tools available you can use to educate how you plan your marketing activity.
Google Trends is a great example of one of these tools. It shows real-time customer search behaviour set against a considerable catalogue of historic data – essentially it tells us what people want and when they want it.
It’s freely available to everybody and shows the popularity of a search term at a particular point in time. It does not show the total number of searches for that term, but rather a scale from 0 to 100 that ‘represents search interest relative to the highest point’.
To put it simply, if the search term “mortgage” was shown as being 12 one month, you could infer that not many people were searching for mortgages. But if this then rose to 90 the following month, you could infer that the number mortgage searches had increased significantly. If the trend is shown as being 100 it means the search term is as popular as it has ever been.
So what does Google Trends tell us about the mortgage market in 2016?
It looks like it could be a big year for contractor mortgages. The popularity of the search term had peaked at 100 at the time of writing this February and it has shown considerable growth over the last five years. Last February Google Trends showed this figure to be 77, it was 62 in 2014, 40 in 2013 and just 36 in 2012.
This reflects the shifting dynamics in our workforce as more people move to contractual employment. Last September Kensington ran some analysis of ONS data that showed there to be more than 1.23 million contract workers in the UK.
Another search term that is as popular as it ever has been is for ‘large mortgages’, which has shown a Google Trends rating of 100 this February, up from 80 last year and 51 the year before.
Google searches for self-employed mortgages have been consistently high in recent years, with the most notable trend being a regular annual cycle where the number of searches peaks in January during self-assessment season, March at financial year end and then again in August and September.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the noise around a stampede of landlords ahead of April’s Stamp Duty changes, online searches for buy-to-let mortgages have not shown such a rush. Google gave this search term a value of 90 in January, which is actually down from 94 last year.
These are just a handful of search terms and it is worth taking the time to play with the site yourself. Google Trends offers a valuable window onto our customers and the types of mortgages they are interested in. Some of these trends are ongoing and some are cyclical, but they provide a guide to help you plan your marketing activity. If you can align the services you offer with what people want, when they want it, then that is a good first step on the path to a successful year.
More tips about how to market your business are available at mortgagemarketing.expert