In a recent post we talked about the value of research-based content and highlighted some convincing examples. Research can help demonstrate thought-leadership and position you as industry experts. But how do you go about it?
In this blog, we give you some ideas and tips for conducting research.
Where to start with b2b research
Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media states “In every industry there are common statements. But they aren’t backed up with data. We call these gaps ‘missing stats’ and they are ripe for research. If you can find this gap in your industry and produce the research that fills it, you’ll have something truly share-worthy, link-worthy and even press worthy.”
Your first step is to look at existing research and determine whether there is a gap. If you find a question yet to be answered, a question that will resonate with your audience, you have the basis for your research.
Who do you need to speak to? Depending on the 'gap' in question, you may want to reach a broad target audience or focus more specifically on a sub-group.
Here are three different approaches and the pros and cons of each.
1. Run an online survey
Online surveys are a form of quantitative research. Here you can measure behaviours and attitudes to produce numerical data that can be transformed into attention-grabbing statistics.
- Easy to administer
- A cost-effective way of reaching a large audience
- Allows for more robust sample sizes
- Respondents can complete the survey at their convenience
- Can be repeated annually to identify trends
- Questions can be open to misinterpretation if not written clearly
- Can be difficult to explore underlying reasons behind responses
2. Conduct phone interviews
Take a qualitative research approach with one-to-one phone interviews. Here you can uncover themes and patterns in attitudes and behaviours, as well as underlying reasons. With this method you won't generate data for headline statistics, but by exploring the 'why' you gain more in-depth insight.
You want your audience to speak naturally, but a 'discussion guide' (a series of topics and questions to inform the conversation) will help structure the interview.
- Enables more in-depth insight
- Opportunities to dig deeper into issues that come up in discussion
- Allows a more candid and in-depth discussion than group settings
- Time-intensive (both the interviews and the analysis)
- Harder to reach a large sample size than with an online survey
- Bias can impact results if the interviewer is not impartial
3. Host focus groups
You may consider speaking to your audience face-to-face. Like phone interviews, focus groups will help you identify themes and understand underlying reasons.
Again, you'll need to prepare a discussion guide to steer the session.
- Facilitates debate which can result in more detailed insight
- Group tasks and exercises can be incorporated
- Great for generating ideas
- Captures non-verbal behaviours
- Expensive (travel expenses, venue hire etc.)
- Analysis can be very time-consuming
- Geographic constraints
- More effort for respondents
- Bias can occur if the moderator is not impartial
These are just three research methodologies. There are other online methods, such as forums and mobile surveys, that can make research more convenient for respondents and researchers alike.
But the method you choose really depends on what you are trying to get out of the research. If you want to report on current trends with statistics, take the quantitative approach. If you need to gain deeper insight and explore reasons behind the trends, take a more qualitative approach.
With research you can uncover powerful insights to create highly engaging and shareable content. You will better understand your audience. You will gain a better understanding of your industry. And you will position your company at the centre of the conversation.
You may find it useful to work with a specialist market research company. They will come up with the best research solution for you. But there will be associated costs, for sure. Alternatively you may decide to work with your marketing agency, assuming they have in-house research capabilities. They will help repurpose the content across multiple platforms to reach the widest possible audience.
And, of course, you can always do the research yourself. So subscribe to our blog to get ongoing updates on best practice and tips and tricks in this regard.