“Content comes in all shapes and sizes. Helpful how-tos, news, guides, opinions, roundups and rants. But there is one type of content that stands above them all. Research.” (Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media Studios)
When done well, research-based content garners more shares and links than almost any other form of content. It is regularly hailed as the most effective form of content marketing, as proven in studies by CMI, Clutch and Ascend2, just to name a few.
It’s no surprise really. Research that provides answers to unanswered questions makes for a compelling story and attention grabbing headlines.
Research is persuasive and inspiring. It is tangible evidence that is easily digestible and memorable. And research lives on. It can serve as a resource to go back to time and again.
The benefits of research for content marketing
For a B2B content marketer, there a number of benefits. Research-based content can:
- Demonstrate thought leadership and position you as experts in your field, building trust and credibility with your audience as a result.
- Provide opportunities to continually 'wow' your audience, by repeating research annually to identify trends.
- Help you to better understand your audience.
- Allow you to increase your outreach and grow your network.
Despite the success of research in B2B content marketing, the latest CMI survey published earlier this year showed that only half (49%) of B2B marketers are creating research as part of their content strategy. So why aren’t more marketers doing it?
The most obvious reason and I’m sure you’re already thinking it, is the time and resource involved. Not to mention the cost. It’s not easy, and it usually doesn’t come cheap. But as we'll see in the examples below, the opportunities research brings for creating content can be endless. And it can make a website the go-to source in an industry for years to come.
Here we look at four great examples of research-based content from those who are leading the way.
Four great examples of research-based content
Everyone loves an infographic, and Steve Brinker’s Supergraphics take it to the next level.
Since 2011 Steve has been collecting data from a number of sources to show the growth of the martech landscape, and illustrating it with a graphic that in 2017 now depicts more than 5,000 marketing technology solutions. Back in 2011 there were just 150 companies operating in the space.
Widely considered the 'bible' for the martech industry, the 2016 supergraphic was shared over 3,500 times on LinkedIn. The 2017 edition was released this week and is already being spread like wildfire.
Late last year Orbit Media Studios released the results of their third annual survey tracking the changing pace of content creation. Each year they ask 1000+ bloggers about how they create content. In just a few short years it has become a much-anticipated source for 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.
Over the last five years, the Content Marketing Institute have published over 30 research reports about trends in content marketing.
In 2016 they also surveyed 20,000 marketers about interactive content. As well as publishing a PDF of the entire report, they used the findings to create a series of content.
They used the most stand out insight to create an engaging infographic. This earned itself a place in their top five most effective pieces of interactive content, with a 10.2% conversion rate for downloading the research and becoming a lead. They also used multiple snippets of the infographic as social-sharing visuals, and created a 45-minute webinar.
Every year since 2008, HubSpot have been reaching out to the marketing community to explore what inbound marketing means to them and their companies. It is 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 inbound 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.
For this year's report they conducted a global survey with over 6000 professionals in 141 countries. The report was published just this week and we expect to see lots of content reviewing and discussing the data in the coming weeks.
As you can see from the examples given here, there is a lot of highly regarded research being published in the inbound marketing industry. Provided it's done well, there's no reason any given business in any industry can't benefit from creating research-based content too.