Last week, I presented "Using Market Research to Drive Content Marketing" at a lunch and learn for a local advertising agency here in Syracuse. The topic of the presentation was to help the staff understand creative ways and new strategic ways to think about how market research can be used to fuel content marketing and content strategies for clients.
Traditional market research is often viewed as stodgy, internal, and confidential.
The results are often used to drive internal decisions, measure success, or prepare a product for a market launch. Market research follows a very precise and calculated approach which offers little to no creativity or wiggle room on how questions are structured, what questions are asked, and the process in which to ask them.
As a result, market research is often viewed as boring and stale.
Research-driven content or market research designed to produce content flips this preconception on its head. Content marketing research can be fun, exciting, and creative. Take that, all of you who think we are just math geeks.
The main purpose of research-driven content is to share the results in a creative and worthwhile way to generate interest and leads for clients. The boundaries of how to ask questions and ways to ask questions are more loosely defined since the results are used to drive interest.
Struggling to design fresh content for your company? Finding it difficult to generate content to attract eyeballs and leads? Think about using market research as a driver to generate your content strategy. Here's why.
The transition to online research over the past 10+ years has opened up a lot of doors to run market research inexpensively and quickly without sacrificing much of the quality when compared to more traditional methodologies like phone surveys.
Online surveys give market research companies access to all types of populations. With the majority of surveys being taken via mobile devices, it is important to design with this user in mind.
When it comes to conducting market research for content strategy, we are talking about a lot of different content deliverables. The core value of obtaining fresh and unique data for content is the ability to repurpose the results in many ways.
In this post, I'll discuss the many ways you can use market research to produce relevant content to drive your strategy:
- Website copy and messaging
- Whitepapers for lead generation
- Press releases with backlinks
- Social snippets
- Webinars to share data
- Downloadable industry reports
- Compare cards or battlecards
Naturally, when one thinks of content marketing, it often relates to blogs or blogging. In fact, we recently completed a financial services content marketing industry study which proved this. "Blogs" was at the top of the list of words and phrases thought of when marketing professionals hear the term content marketing.
When you receive a market research report, it is important to not sell yourself short. What I mean is thinking beyond just a single summary blog post that highlights all of the insights and findings from the market research. In reality, each question of the survey has its own story to tell which should be separated into different blog posts.
Re-purpose your market research findings into a series of blog posts and expand on the findings for your readers. Think beyond just a single blog.
Another tactical and high-ROI effort is to use the market research for website copy.
Let's say you are a manufacturing company and you are reviewing last year's customer survey findings. You've never used the results for anything outside of discussions in the board room, but after reading this post you are beginning to understand the value of the survey can be maximized further.
One of the questions in the survey inquires about which factor(s) were most important to customers when choosing a manufacturing company. You learned that far and away, three items stood out: (1) turnaround time for product delivery, (2) longevity of the product, and (3) technical support after ordering.
With these factors being the driver to choice, a great opportunity exists to pump up your website content and copy to reflect this. Knowing users of the site are looking for a manufacturer who exudes these 3 criteria, you can center your website homepage and ensure some of the more popularly visited sub-pages convey the message that your manufacturing company offers a quick turnaround, long-term solutions, and offers superior technical support staff.
Are you sitting on some industry data or user data which would be invaluable to prospects in your vertical? Are you thinking about running a proprietary and exclusive study to obtain this data?
Whitepapers are an excellent channel to share this information.
Let's say your digital marketing company ran a medical conference last year which had over 300 cardiologists. As part of the follow-up to the conference, your organization sent a follow-up survey to understand the physician's thoughts on upcoming trends in testing, medication-usage, and reimbursement. The survey also inquired about barriers to adoption.
Your team tallied the feedback into a 4-page whitepaper with direct feedback from 300 of the nation's top cardiologists. Think this would carry some value for other physicians or cardiologists who were not able to attend? As a digital marketing agency the new cardiologists who want to read this information would be high-value prospects.
As a next step, you offer the whitepaper on your website, free to download for those physicians who provide contact information. Then your account team can follow-up with the physicians who download the whitepaper as part of a new lead generation strategy.
Another type of outreach which goes hand-in-hand with content marketing research is press releases and backlinks. The idea of sharing some of the data and results from past market research or newly commissioned study is to catch the attention of relevant news outlets. By being featured on PR sites, it increases the chances of your data being picked up and sourced by other outlets.
This press release strategy increases the number of backlinks to your website from credible sources. The more backlinks your site has from other sources, the more credible your website is to Google in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine rankings placement (SERP). Research-based content will improve your SEO rankings and site authority by sharing relevant and insightful data.
Another deliverable from research-based content are infographics. Infographics are visually appealing pictures and files which display data and findings in a creative way.
Rather than showing your data as boring old stacked bar charts or line graphs, infographics bring a fresh look to market research. They work extremely well as part of content marketing strategies.
Infographics catch the attention of the reader and are very shareable. People love sharing them on social (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) It is very easy to take past market research and reformat into a simple infographic to gain more visibility.
An example of a VA loans industry study from loanDepot:
Similar to infographics, social snippets are short and snackable shares of data and insights designed for social media.
These include an image with a supporting data point such as "Did you know from a recent survey 82% of industry professionals use content marketing."
Another example is, "96%: The number of manufacturing professionals who believe they still have more to learn when it comes to digital marketing."
These social shares are excellent ways to repurpose any and all data points from your market research. It's easy to create 20, 30, or 40+ of these snippets to roll out as part of your content strategy for your company or your clients through social media.
Webinars are a more personable form of content marketing because it gives you time to speak to a group of individuals versus just having them read your content. Our clients who take advantage of webinars are typically the ones who are producing high-value content through whitepapers or industry reports.
The webinar is just another channel to share this information through conversation and encourage sign-ups.
Let's say you are a marketing professional at a bank. You may sign-up for a webinar where the topics highlight trends in digital marketing, techniques to improve ROI, and 101 on SEM. All of these topics would be of interest to you.
If you are a digital marketing agency, it would be easy to create an industry survey targeted to marketing professionals to help you learn about tactics used, which tactics have produced the most success, and thoughts on SEM. All of these insights and recommendations can be featured in your webinar to attract potential marketing professionals from banks and credit unions to sign-up for the session.
This is another form of lead generation which gives your team the opportunity to follow-up with webinar attendees.
This is one of the most popular forms of content marketing research. In this scenario, your company designs a new and proprietary study for your industry. The best way to explain the value of these industry reports is to provide some examples.
Here are 3.
A furniture manufacturing company who surveys interior designer (residential and commercial) to understand trends in design, factor(s) which influence choice, and perceptions of key brands. As the furniture manufacturer you create an industry report highlighting all of this feedback to then share with interior designers across the country as part of a form fill download. These become leads in exchange for this valuable data.
A chain restaurant surveys chefs across the country to obtain opinions on your brand, factor(s) which drive choices of restaurants, and comparisons of your brand versus the competition. Your industry report of chefs is compiled and shared as part of press releases and a downloadable report which helps increase the number of prospects interested in opening up a franchise in their region.
A mortgage originator surveys first-time home-buyers across the country to understand barriers to home ownership, helpful tips and pointers when buying a first home, and valuable resources to use when taking the jump. The mortgage company summarizes all of the feedback into a downloadable industry report and places it on its website. First-time home-buyers looking for advice and tips download the report in exchange for their contact information. The national mortgage company generates leads every day from this effort.
A win-win strategy.
Compare cards or battlecards
Think you are better than your competition? Most of the time your opinion doesn't matter. The opinion that matters is that of the potential customer. Does he or she think you are better than your competition. Market research can be the great equalizer.
By creating a study which examines perceptions and satisfaction with your product or service and your competition it changes the story from "we think we're better" to "the general public thinks we're better." Sharing this comparison data can prove very powerful in sales collateral for your sales representatives who go on-site or share information via email.
For example, "Here is a study we conducted with an independent third-party who measured satisfaction with our product and our 2 key competitors. Respondents were 15% more satisfied with our product and stated our customer service, shipping time, and taste was better."
Compare cards or battle cards are specific types of content which compare your brand to the competition in a rank order. Here is an example of a compare card used by one of our clients as part of their content strategy.
An example of a compare card or battlecard in market research:
Contact Drive Research
Drive Research is a market research company who specializes in research-based content and research-driven content insights. We work closely with organizations who are looking to use market research to drive content strategies.
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