Research is an indispensable part of any business. When you’re aiming for growth, your first move is to always look for information on how you can get ahead of the competition and what the current and best market trends are. And though doing online research can help you find what you need to do to scale your business, without knowing the things to look for or using the proper research techniques, you will only end up scouring the internet aimlessly for hours.
Internet research is a very time-consuming activity, and it’s a good thing that virtual assistants are skilled in how to do research effectively.
Why You Should Get Your VA to Help with Research
It saves you time
When you first thought about hiring a virtual assistant, you probably worked on the assumption that you’ll only be able to delegate the everyday, recurring tasks to them while you focus on the core areas of your business. Virtual assistants are very adept at doing a wide array of things, including knowing how to research for information online. Utilising VAs to help you with online research will save you time as they will be able to search more efficiently and provide you with the details you need within your set (reasonable) time frame.
You will get accurate and organised information
Virtual assistants are often detail-oriented and meticulous with their work. Whatever subject you task them to find, they’ll use whatever search options and research techniques they have and make sure they give you reliable information, presenting it to you in a way that’s clear, concise, and easily comprehensible.
They can also ensure that you’ll be able to quickly access the same information should you need it again at a later time.
They are able to reuse the information found in their research
Providing relevant and reliable content is key in maintaining an online presence for any business nowadays and making sure that your audience engages in what you share. Because they work with content constantly, virtual assistants are able to reuse the information they have found in their previous internet research activities and repurpose them into new things like blog posts, infographics, images, and social media blurbs, effectively giving your profile a continuous source of content.
Types of Research A Can VA Help You With
Short of doing academic research for your business, which is more of a job for a marketing consultant or business strategist, your virtual assistant can help you with the following types of research:
Your VA can help you build and complete your contact database. By using people search tools, they know how to search someone on the internet with just a name and locate missing information about people already in your contact lists.
Want to know more about a product or how an online software works? Your VA is able to search knowledge bases and product FAQs to help you figure these things out. They can also perform online searches about a person or a company’s background using different online tools.
Virtual assistants are very adept at doing a wide array of things, including knowing how to research for information online.
Getting your VA’s help in your online market research efforts is a smart use of resource considering how much time this type of online research requires. Your VA can work with available market research tools to help them mine the information you need, and there are various types of tools out there tailored to the different types of market research you want to conduct, whether it’s audience research, brand analysis, product research, or competitor research. The use of online tools is one of the most practical research techniques that you and your virtual assistant can employ to help you get reliable information faster.
This activity comes in line with market research, and it’s something that your VA can implement for you. Lead generation research could be as simple as profiling your social media account followers based on their interests, location, age, and gender, and adapting your lead capturing efforts (ads, surveys, etc.) to the information collected. And with the use of lead generation tools like Facebook lead generation (Lead Ads), Linkedin lead generation (Lead Gen Forms), and different CRM tools, your VA can help you manage your leads and deliver the content needed to convert those leads into sales.
Content sourcingYour marketing strategy won’t work without the right content, and the amount and quality of content you have boost your web traffic and help draw in your target audience. Finding ideas to post that your audience will find compelling takes time, and this is where you can harness your virtual assistant’s help. Using various researching techniques, your VA can perform internet research on topics you can write about, individuals you can collaborate with on your blog and social media accounts, and even previous content you already have but can still repurpose.
SEO & Keyword researchPart of your marketing strategy involves making sure your website and content are optimised for various types of search engines and that you’re using keywords applicable to you and your market. While your virtual assistant is not an SEO Specialist, they can still help with the nitty-gritty work of keyword researching and finding out what can help amplify your visibility and ranking online.
AnalyticsTo ensure marketing success, it’s not enough that you get quality content out to your customers. Understanding the way your target audience engages with your website and content will give you an insight on what works and what doesn’t. With online tools that specialise in analytics data collection like Google Analytics and Facebook Page Insights, your virtual assistant can help you to gather information from your website analytics and social media insights so that you can enhance content and posts that have high-revenue potential and improve the ones that perform poorly.
Your virtual assistant can help you do various types of research for your business, from data mining to keyword research.
Research techniques to use
To enhance your online research activities, your virtual assistant can make use of the following research techniques:
Maximise Google search features
There are various types of search engines on the internet, but Google tops the list of being the most powerful. Anything is searchable on Google, so if you’ve tasked your VA to look for specific information, they can end up crawling search results for hours and still not have the exact thing you want.
To save on time, use Google’s various search features. For example, your VA can define the search they’re doing by using Google’s search filters or the different tabs on the search results page, like Web, Images, Videos, Maps, News, and More. This will help sieve the results into these categories and they’ll be able to locate the kind of information you want more efficiently.
You and your VA can also refine web searches by using search operators, like adding ‘@’ if you’re looking for a social media profile, or ‘#’ for a hashtag. If you’re searching for an exact match to the phrase you’re using, enclose it in quotation marks (e.g. “how to create a Facebook Ad”). If you want more specific results using a variety of your keywords, combine five to seven keywords to refine your search. This way, Google will return results with the sites and pages containing the keywords you’ve searched for. In addition, you can use colons to search information within websites (e.g. hiring a virtual assistant site:thevirtualhub.com), or the minus sign (–) when you want to exclude certain words from the search.
Google also has other search tools that you can utilise to get more tailored research results. Google Alerts can help you source and monitor content online—you can input certain keywords to get notified about articles or blog posts that contain those keywords. Another tool you can use is Google Trends to find out how search terms are being used online and how frequently they’re used. Google Trends gives an analysis of the popularity of search queries and compare their search volume with other related terms.
Search keywords effectivelyYour virtual assistant can help you maximise your digital marketing efforts by using the right keywords that you specify. Build your keyword list by first compiling a list of seed keywords and then developing your list of long tail keywords. You can have your VA use keyword research tools as they can give you more helpful information about the keywords you want to use, like search volumes, keyword rankings, keyword difficulty (the measure of how hard it is to rank for those search queries), and more. Some examples of useful keyword research tools are Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMRush.
Your virtual assistant can help you maximise your digital marketing efforts by using the right keywords that you specify.
Determine reliable sources
The internet holds a wealth of information about any subject, so at times it can be difficult to tell which websites are reliable to acquire information from and which are not. Like with academic research, when sourcing your content, make sure that you and your VA use credible sources like official websites and news sites. Wikipedia is fine to use if you’re just looking for general information for trivial purposes, but if you’re searching for sources you can publish, cite, and link back to in your website and social media posts, it’s best to refer to official sites, databases, credible news sources, and digital media libraries.
Conduct online surveys
Nobody can tell you more about your products and services better than your customers. Using online forms and surveys will give you instant feedback from your audience, and you can pre-screen and target specific respondents based on the types of market research you’re doing. Results of online surveys are immediately accessible as they are updated in real time, and you can readily use the data in your market research efforts.
Use various research tools
This is one of the most important research techniques that your virtual assistant should adopt to help them locate the information you want faster. Using research apps and tools like people search engines, market research tools, keyword research tools, CRMs, and analytics tools will help you and your VA compile a wealth of information in a short amount of time.
For a list of helpful research online tools that you and your virtual assistant can use, get our extra resource on this page.
Final Things to Consider
Online research plays such an important role in building and scaling a business in today’s world. The data collected from researching helps entrepreneurs make decisions about every aspect of their business, from planning, strategising, product development, staff employment, to marketing. It’s become even more invaluable today when most businesses operate online and information about the competition and consumers are so readily available.
While they are tedious and take so much time to do, research activities don't have to be a chore. You can get your virtual assistant to help you with your internet research efforts. VAs know how to do research online and are able to employ different research techniques to help them get the information you want quickly. There are also many research tools online to make the process more efficient.
Just keep in mind that when you get your VA to help you with research, be specific with what you want. Online research can be as simple as putting a string of keywords on a search bar but the internet is a massive place to mine information from. Get clear with instructions and narrow down the things you want your VA to look up. In addition, be realistic with your deadlines — some research tasks take longer to complete than others, depending on the topic, the type of research to be done, and the amount of data you need.
With an effective plan and process in place, research techniques to consider, and various types of tools to use, researching for your business can be quite an effortless activity.
There are many other things that a virtual assistant can help you with aside from researching, learn all about the ins and outs of having a virtual assistant by reading our Ultimate Guide to Virtual Assistants.