Editors note: This blog post was originally published in May 2017 and has been updated for relevance and accuracy.
Content can take many forms, such as how-to guides, quick tips, roundups, infographics, ebooks, and whitepapers. However, research is consistently regarded as the most powerful type of content.
I’m not talking about doing some research for a blog post. I’m talking about original, primary research with your company’s name on it. It means engaging with people and gathering insights that will tell a powerful story to your audience. And in doing so, position your company as a thought leader in your field.
Make an impact with research content
Research is regularly hailed as the most effective form of content marketing.
The latest report from the CMI found just 30% of B2B content marketers are creating research reports. But when asked which content assets produced the best results in the last 12 months, research reports ranked second only to in-person and virtual events, producing better results than blog posts, eBooks, case studies, and videos.
In the manufacturing industry, just 10% of content marketers publish research reports, meaning there’s an even bigger window to stand out.
But why does research have such a big impact?
It’s unique and original
The internet is filled with articles sharing how to’s, tips, and trends. Original research instantly stands out.
It captures attention
Statistics are a great way to capture the attention of your audience. Research shows LinkedIn captions that include statistics along with a link to content get 162% more impressions and a 37% higher click-through rate.
It’s highly shareable
Research content garners more shares than any other form of content, as people often want to share valuable information with others. This can help increase the reach and visibility of the content, as well as the brand that created it.
It provides value
Research is usually conducted to provide value to the audience. It can help solve a problem, answer a question or provide insights that people can use to understand complex issues and make informed decisions. And because it’s based on data and evidence rather than opinions or beliefs, it has credibility and authority.
It has longevity
Research content tends to have a longer lifespan than other types of content, as it can remain relevant and valuable for a longer period. And it can ve revisited over and again. By repeating your research year on year you can continue to grip your audience.
It can be repurposed
Research can be repurposed and reused in different formats, such as infographics, blog posts, social media posts, and more, giving you even more content to share with your audience.
It helps you grow your network
Getting involved in research gives you a great reason to connect with prospective customers, building awareness for your brand.
Overall, research content can be a powerful tool for content marketing, as it provides value, credibility, and authority to your brand. It can help build trust with your audience and establish your company as a thought leader in the industry.
Large corporations such as the CMI and HubSpot have published annual research reports for over a decade, establishing themselves as thought leaders in the industry.
As a contract manufacturer, it’s within your reach to use research in the very same way. It doesn’t have to be large scale. Just one statistic that strikes a chord with your target audience can help you stand out from the competition.
Four great examples of research content
We've selected four examples from the content marketing industry to give you an idea of what great research content looks like.
1. Martech Map: Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic
Infographics are a great way to display a lot of (often complex) data in a digestible way. Scott Brinker’s Supergraphics take it to the next level.
For over a decade, Brinker has been collecting data from a number of sources to show the growth of the martech landscape and in early May, delivering the latest supergraphic. In 2011 there were just 150 companies on the map. In 2022, the now interactive supergraphic depicts a whopping 9,932 marketing technology solutions.
Widely considered the 'bible' for the martech industry, the 2022 version has over 500,000 backlinks and when Brinker first shared it on LinkedIn, the post had 801 engagements, 146 comments and was reposted over 114 times.
2. Orbit Media Studios: Annual Survey of 1000+ bloggers
In late 2022, Orbit Media Studios released the results of their ninth annual survey tracking the changing pace of content creation. Each year they ask 1000+ bloggers about how they create content. It has become a much-anticipated source of information about the state of blogging and content marketing.
According to Orbit Media Studios, the first report earned 644 links and 1700 shares. It was this success that prompted them to turn it into an annual survey. Articles discussing blogging trends often cite data from their reports.
3. Content Marketing Institute: B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends
For more than a decade, the Content Marketing Institute has been regularly publishing content about trends in content marketing.
The 13th annual B2B Content Marketing report was released at the end of 2022. The survey of content marketers explores content creation, distribution, measurement and budgets and reveals how the most successful content marketers differentiate themselves.
Each year they also release a Manufacturing Content Marketing report, which looks specifically at how manufacturing marketers approach content strategy and creation and what they find most effective.
As well as releasing the full reports, the CMI shares key insights in blog posts, infographics, social media posts and webinars.
4. HubSpot: State of Inbound Marketing Trends
Every year since 2008, HubSpot has been reaching out to the marketing community to track inbound marketing trends. It’s considered a go-to source of information for the industry and is often referred to in articles and blogs discussing trends and the value of marketing.
The research is cultivated into a downloadable report, a series of online events breaking down the key themes, and numerous blog posts sharing the findings.
The latest report shares over 50 trends and statistics from a survey of 1,600 marketers across the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Germany, France and Japan. From just one report, they have created multiple content assets, each exploring key insights in greater depth and context. It’s another example of how one piece of research can be repurposed into several assets.
How to do research
Carrying out your own primary research is, of course, a much bigger task than writing a blog post or even creating a video. But as outlined in the post, the benefits speak for themselves. And in fact, HubSpot research shows 83% of marketers believe it’s more effective to create higher quality content less often.
So if you’re considering doing your own research, how do you get started?
First off, it’s important to note that primary research broadly splits into two core methodologies: quantitative and qualitative.
- Quantitative research - Used to measure or ‘quantify’ behaviours, attitudes, opinions and other variables to produce numeral statistics. Surveys are the most common way of collecting quantitative data.
- Qualitative research - Used to uncover trends in thoughts, behaviours and opinions and the reasons behind them. It doesn’t involve numerical data and is typically collected by talking to people individually or in focus groups.
When it comes to creating content, both methodologies have value. An interview with an industry expert, customer or someone in your business can make for a great blog post. As could a round-up of trends you’ve discovered from speaking with various individuals. But a quantitative survey will allow you to speak to a larger group of people, making your research more credible and arming you with attention-grabbing statistics that will make an impact.
When it comes to carrying out your own quantitative research, the typical process involves the following steps:
- Defining your focus and setting your objectives
- Identifying who you want to survey
- Designing and creating your survey (using tools like SurveyMonkey or Typeform)
- Execute the research
- Data analysis
- Telling the story
Once you have your key insights and your story, you can release your report and develop supporting content in the form of blog posts, videos, infographics and more.
Doing your own research gives you an opportunity to make noise in your industry and position yourself as a thought leader. You can turn your research into multiple pieces of content to attract and engage your ideal customers - and grow your business.