As we move further into this digital age, content continues to expand into new territories leaving many brands flustered to keep pace. However, there is one type of content that continues to outperform the rest.
Surprisingly, however, most companies never do it. In fact, fewer than half (47 percent) of businesses use original research in their marketing. Perhaps this is due to marketers deeming original research too complex or time-consuming—but, in reality, it’s not as hard as you may think.
Let’s take a look at three ways original research supports other business needs, and how you can incorporate it into your marketing mix this year.
1. Getting Your Brand on the Map
Original research, also known as primary research, is research that you conduct specifically for your own objectives. For example, maybe it’s for publishing results to your website or other channels as an effort to get attention, leads and subscribers.
“Authoritative Research and reference content are the two types of content that consistently get links and shares.” – Steve Rayson, BuzzSumo
However, the total average shows that only 47 percent of marketers surveyed published original research in 2018, which begs the question: Why does original research continue to go under-utilized?
“Original research is the most powerful format for content. It’s crazy that more people don’t do it.” – Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media
For a variety of reasons, conducting original research is a topic that tends to scare a lot of marketers. It’s uncharted territory, it’s specialized, it requires an upfront investment of resources, and if it’s not constructed and interpreted correctly, it runs the risk of error and waste.
But, regardless, original research is necessary—which is exactly why experts like Andy Crestodina are starting to talk more and more about its importance.
Now, this is not to say that original research ever lost its importance. In fact, very few tactics remain as consistently relevant and effective as original research. Especially because, as the content marketplace grows noisier, research that is exclusive to you has the highest likelihood to attain coveted backlinks and raise your domain authority—typically two major priorities for just about any brand.
“The biggest value is in producing something that is both unique and beneficial to your customers and prospects—it presents your brand as an authoritative voice within your market and gives people a reason to seek you out. Great research also attracts backlinks more than any other kind of content, which in turn boosts your domain authority.” – Rachel Haberman, Skyword
According to Mantis Research, however, only 49 percent of marketers are using research to get backlinks to their website, despite a study from SEO PowerSuite which found that research is the most efficient type of content to get backlinks.
This tells us that, even though marketers understand the value of research and are finding success, there is an opportunity for them to do even more with the research they have—and get even better results.
With original research, your brand has the opportunity to become the primary source. Consistently, research gets more links and more shares than any other format for content—a key to successful search and social strategies.
2. Finding Your Audience
Original research for content marketing feeds your content distribution strategy while also taking the guesswork out of audience development.
In fact, according to BuzzSumo’s State of Original Research for Marketing 2018 survey, 58 percent reported that original research gave them more insights about their customers – both existing and prospective.
By not conducting original research, however, you are forced to rely on projected impressions of your audience’s challenges, values, concerns, lifestyle, needs, interests and desires, which can often be risky. Not to mention, getting it wrong it can have drastic consequences on the success of your content marketing, which will likely negatively impact both your brand and business.
Luckily, this can easily be avoided by simply investing some time into original research for your brand. As an added benefit, the more research you collect on your audience, the more your brand (and employees) will be able to fully immerse itself in the mindset of the people you’re trying to reach.
As a result, your brand will undoubtedly reap the rewards.
3. Investing in Consumer Relationships
Original research should be viewed as an investment in relationships with your audience. Again, personalization is central to building loyalty, and effective personalization is accomplished through audience research.
According to research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 81 percent of B2C marketers are concerned with creating content that builds loyalty, which means that audience research should be a long-term investment.
Most importantly, your relationship with your audience can’t rely on borrowed insights, assumptions or stereotypes—it has to start with you.
So, what types of content are marketers publishing from their research?
When done correctly, original research can provide enormous payoff—especially when it comes to content. Also according to BuzzSumo’s survey, 70 percent of respondents said research had enhanced their ideas about new content and 67 percent said it improved content quality. Not to mention, you can probably fill an entire year’s content calendar by atomizing a single well-done study.
“Organizations that take on original research can accomplish a great deal, for content marketing and beyond. Obviously, research creates opportunities for thought leadership in a field. It’s also an opportunity to generate content that can be ‘recombinant’ in not only a research report but also in a blog post, PowerPoint presentation, speech, infographic, video, etc. Beyond ‘just’ the content part, research can also reveal new opportunities, in the marketplace or for the product, that can drive a business forward or generate PR value or gain traction with influencers.” – Rebecca Lieb, Kaleido Insights
Here are a few formats that lend themselves to research:
Webinars and Presentations
Webinars and presentations are a natural fit. Once you have a piece of exclusive research that no one else has, others tend to be extremely interested in having you on to present your findings to their audience. In addition, webinars can be a great tool for lead generation, because you typically get exposure to wider audiences.
Similarly, if you have interesting findings to share, industry podcast hosts will be very interested in having you on to share those findings with their audiences. This is why you want to spend a lot of time on topic selection so that your industry colleagues will see immediate value in your data.
Video of High-Level Findings
A video of your high-level findings is somewhat intuitive, but you can also create a video series. We’ve seen great one-to-two- minute snippet series, stretched out over a couple of months, with one short (60-second) video for each data point and its implications.
Once you have your topic, and you know the information you want to ask about, there’s an entire process of question formulation and analysis that can be tricky without some guidance. But, now that you have some information to get you started, digging into some original research could be just the boost your marketing strategy needs!
Interested in creating a survey to collect original research? We can show you how! Click here for a lesson on the art of survey creation!