Original research for content marketing - is it really worth it?

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Published Aug 22, 2019 | Written by Katie Hughes

As a marketer, publishing original research is an opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership and position your company as an authority in your industry. And in turn, it can help you to build trust and credibility with your customers and prospects.

In a world of content saturation, publishing original research can help you stand out in your industry. But, it’s possibly one of the most underused forms of content.

Just 39% of marketers have published original research in the past 12 months, according to a global study by Mantis research and BuzzSumo.

Their State of Original Research for Marketing 2019 report looks at why marketers are doing research, the types of content they are creating from it, and the benefits they are seeing. It also gives an insight into what’s stopping people from doing their own research.

We dig into the findings and ask the question: is original research for content marketing really worth the effort involved?

How are marketers benefiting from original research?

Research is the ultimate story. It’s tangible, persuasive and inspiring. It’s highly shareable and it gives people something to talk about.

So it’s perhaps unsurprising that the top benefits marketers are seeing from publishing original research are social shares (66%), mentions from media, PR, influencers, bloggers, etc. (63%) and backlinks (60%).

What’s more, 55% said they had captured leads off the back of their research. Just under half also saw improved search rankings and more blog and email subscribers. And a third of marketers have received invitations to speak or write about their findings.

Off the back of all this, it seems fair that 94% of marketers doing original research agree that it has elevated their brand’s authority in their industry.

What kind of content are they creating?

Publishing original research doesn’t just mean writing a report and putting it out there as a PDF for people to download. The best thing about original research is that it can be packaged in so many different ways. You can scale your research into a whole library of content to help you attract and generate more leads.

So what are marketers doing with their original research?

Blog posts (85%) are the most common type of content marketers are producing from their research, followed by infographics (61%), social sharing assets (56%) and articles on other websites (55%).

Other types of content marketers are creating include charts, press releases, industry presentations, videos, webinars, printed papers, interactive graphics, and online quizzes and assessments.

Proving the value of repurposing your original research into multiple pieces of content, the report reveals that those who are most successful with their research are more likely to produce all of these types of content.

A research project might feel like a big investment, but the content opportunities it provides are almost limitless.

How are they doing their research?

Of the 39% who said they have published original research in the last 12 months, the majority (65%) had used a survey approach. The remainder either analysed third-party data, analysed their own data, or carried out qualitative interviews.

Most of those doing survey-based research used either SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to host their survey. Though there were a small number of marketers using Typeform, Qualtrics, Survey Gizmo, QuestionPro and Zoho Survey instead.

To get survey respondents, 7 in 10 used their own lists. Meaning they simply went through their database of contacts and sent them the survey via email. Some also partnered with other organisations with access to their audience or used social media. And 1 in 5 paid for panels to get responses.

Although using a panel means an outgoing cost, it is one of the most reliable ways to get respondents to complete your survey if you don’t have access to them yourselves. A panel is comprised of a group of people who have expressed willingness to take part in research. You simply reach out to a panel provider with details of the type of people you want to target, and they then send your survey to people who fit that criteria.

What about marketers who aren’t doing research?

Of those surveyed not using original research for content marketing, more than half are considering it either in the next 12 months or more. The opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership and generate more leads is what’s tempting these marketers to take the leap.

However, few are confident that they know how to successfully execute a research project. Some are also unsure of how easy it will be to get budget. Perhaps these are the barriers that have held them back so far.

For those not considering research, the most common reason was that they felt it wasn’t the right type of project for their business. Other reasons included not having the budget, being unsure about how to execute a research project, or because they’d done it in the past and been unsuccessful. And for some, it’s just not on their radar at all. For 14% of marketers, the idea of doing research just hasn’t occurred to them.

So, is it worth it?

The State of Original Research for Marketing 2019 report shows that marketers are confident about the positive impact of publishing original research. However, there is some uncertainty over how to execute a research project that is holding some marketers back.

Carrying out a research project can be time-consuming, and it can be stressful. At times when you’re lost in the data analysis it will feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. But, when you start to find the story in the data and you pull that narrative together, you’ll have something new and original that will enable you to connect with your customers and prospects.

For your research to really make an impact though, it must be credible. So make sure you describe your research findings accurately, provide a description of the research methodology you used, and share your sample size.

If the idea of doing it yourself seems too daunting, or you don't have the time or resource to take it on, you could consider looking to external expertise for help. There are lots of market research agencies out there who can help you. If you're in the B2B space, check out B2B International and Sapio Research. MRS also have a helpful directory of UK market research companies which you might find useful.

But if you are ready to give it a go yourself, check out our B2B Research eBook for a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process:

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Published by Katie Hughes August 22, 2019
Katie Hughes