Content creation isn’t easy. It’s time intensive, thoughtful, and when done well, highly collaborative. As Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media knows, producing quality content is all about the insights gained from original research and expert contributors.
This is where many businesses hit a wall. When strapped for time and short on in-house resources, many fall into the trap of churning and burning through blog posts aimlessly. And unfortunately, as with most marketing initiatives, if you’re not investing in content as a long-term, strategic game, there’s going to be a disconnect between what you’re doing and what’s actually working.
Solving for this problem doesn’t mean your team has to transform itself into a powerhouse, research-conducting machine. Instead, consider hiring a third-party firm. Here are key criteria to weigh in choosing a research partner.
Clearly Defined Objectives
Clear research objectives are undoubtedly important for your internal team. Everyone should be on board with your brand message and why original research is key to building authoritative content.
When vetting potential research partners, make sure you’re able to communicate your businesses’ content objectives thoroughly. This includes defining your audience and establishing expectations.
The right research firm for your team will then be able to take those objectives and communicate them back to you in their proposal. They should offer a personalized approach for achieving goals most relevant to your brand.
The research partner you choose should provide insight into their process prior to you signing on the dotted line. If they’ll be working to survey potential audiences, for example, you’ll want to know how they intend to do so.
What methods (e.g., email, phone, in-person) do they most commonly pursue? How do they find people relevant to your targeted audience(s) to participate? Who makes up the team and how do they function as a whole? Make sure you’re asking the right questions upfront.
Can Translate Data Into Insights
In reporting the success of your approach to content, you know that it’s only partially about the data. Qualitative metrics are just as, if not more, important.
The same can be said when working with a research partner. They should be able to not only provide the hard numbers but the story as well. You want to work with someone that can offer actionable insights useful for steering your brand’s content narrative in the right direction.
Assess to Relevant Markets
Relevancy is key when it comes to choosing the right research partner. Ideally, you want someone who can provide testimonials from businesses similar to yours.
If the direct experience isn’t there, however, make sure they can speak to how they would go about accessing relevant markets. This is especially true for those conducting in-person focus groups.
Cost is naturally going to factor into the bottom line. Often this will be impacted by a research firm’s methods.
The more avenues they pursue in conducting research, the more time and resources they’ll need to use in doing so. Rather than simply opting for the cheapest option, think of the partnership as an investment. A higher price tag upfront may result in a greater benefit for your brand’s presence down the road.
Delivery and Responsiveness
When vetting potential partners, pay attention to their levels of responsiveness. You’ll also want to pin down expectations around how many different people you’d be working with from their team and the ways in which you’ll be able to contact them.
Delivery is also key. They should be able to offer insight into turnaround time based on communicated goals and initiatives.
Eager to explore more strategies sure to take your content marketing game to the next level? Download The Intelligent Content Playbook, full of optimization techniques from some of today’s leading digital marketing experts.