In BuzzSumo’s Content Trends report, author Steve Rayson found that authoritative content and original research are the two types of content most likely to get links and shares.
While the web is filled with how-to content on how to create how-to content, there are markedly fewer insights available on how to create original research.
This is why we teamed up with Mantis Research for the second year to study if and how marketers are using original research. This year we not only looked at the industry as a whole, but we also dug in to understand how marketers are using survey-based research. Thanks to the nearly 650 marketers who participated!
You can read the full study; but below you’ll find the key takeaways, to get you started.
In the past 12 months, 39% of marketers published original research
First off, we wanted to track what percentage of marketers are using original research. To our surprise, we are seeing a slight decline: Last year, we found 47% of survey respondents published research; but this year, that number came in at 39%.
While we are not certain why this is, our best guess is that the demographics of our survey have shifted a bit. Last year, 79% of respondents worked for B2B organizations compared to 70% of respondents this year. And, just as we saw last year, the type of business factors into the use of research, with B2B marketers being more likely to use this technique, overall.
Marketers are confident original research has a positive impact
Just as we saw last year, marketers are confident in the value of original research. In fact, 94% agree original research elevates a brand’s authority, and almost 9 in 10 of those who used research last year plan to conduct additional research in the next 12 months.
These findings don’t surprise me too much, as BuzzSumo’s Content Trends report is just one of myriad data points that support the value of research. If you need more help justifying the use of research to your stakeholders, here are 10 tips you might benefit from.
“You can’t just think like a publisher anymore –– you have to think like a journalist. Be “newsworthy.” Original research often fits the bill because it’s fresh data that’s applicable to your audience without rehashing the same information that’s already out there.”
Amanda Milligan | Fractl | @millanda
Research exceeds or meets the majority of users’ expectations
While marketers understand the value of research, is research actually producing results? The majority of marketers think so. Our study found that 61% say that research has met or exceeded the majority of their expectations.
While this finding is useful, I couldn’t help but wonder: what are these marketers are doing differently from those who are less successful? Content Marketing Institute will soon be publishing a post that digs into these differences, but those who are successful with research are doing the following:
- Focusing on a goal that matters
- Drafting survey questions that will result in a strong story
- Disqualifying the wrong people from taking your survey
- Using survey logic to streamline the experience for survey takers and help you get better data.
- Using one or more distribution partners to distribute your survey
- Publishing their methodology — and including demographic details
- Asking others to share their research and/or be quoted
- Creating more content from their research
Survey-based research is the most common type of research marketers use
Original research comes in several formats, including survey-based research, qualitative interviews, and the analysis of third-party data. Similar to last year, we found that survey-based research is the most common type of research, with 65% of marketers conducting this type of project.
We expect this trend to continue as well. Survey-based research is also the most popular type of research among marketers who are considering a research project in the future.
The vast majority of marketers believe their survey-based research is credible
As mentioned, we decided to dig into the specifics around survey-based research this year, so we also surveyed marketers on how they are executing their projects, as well as their general attitudes about this type of research.
One finding struck me the most: 92% agreed that their survey-based research is based on credible data.
Quite frankly, this number is staggering to me. While it’s wonderful to know marketers are confident in their data, this number, quite frankly, indicates that they may be some overconfidence in their current abilities.
I believe many marketers have the best of intentions when creating research; but, I also believe we can be doing so much better.
For instance, not all marketers are taking advantage of the survey technology out there, as indicated by the finding that 39% of marketers don’t disqualify people from taking their surveys, which means that some of the respondents’ experiences aren’t directly relevant, and they aren’t able to accurately answer the questions.
Or, consider this: only two-thirds share their methodology. Marketers should always include the demographics details of their survey respondents as well as the timeframe when the research was fielded.
“The two most important ways to bolster credibility are:
- Describe research findings accurately. Avoid statements that embody claims the findings and underlying data don’t actually support.
- Provide an accurate description of the research methodology used, and include a description of the limitations that come with that methodology.”David Dodd | Point Balance | @gdaviddodd
Research takes time
New this year, we asked marketers how much time their research projects take. Anecdotally, we hear marketers tell us their projects take 2 to 4 months (and Andy Crestodina says his annual blogger study takes 150 hours). As you can see, 2 in 5 marketers report that their survey-based research takes at least 3 months.
The majority of marketers are collaborating with research
Also new this year, we asked marketers if they are collaborating with others when they create research, and we found that 7 in 10 are. This is great news!
The most common way marketers collaborate is by asking others to share and promote the findings; but they are also asking for quotes, partnering with other organizations, and asking others to write about their findings.
For more details on this area, Andy Crestodina has shared an excellent article on how to find and collaborate with the right influencers.
About half of marketers who are currently not using research are considering it
Not only did we want to understand the experiences of marketers who use research, but we also wanted to hear from those who aren’t currently using the technique. Are they considering it? If so, what do they think the challenges will be?
More than half of marketers are considering research: 39% of marketers are considering using research in the next 12 months, and an additional 14% are considering it but feel it will be more than 12 months before they get started.
As you can see below, these marketers have mixed feelings about conducting research. While 97% agree that research would elevate their brand authority, only half have buy-in for a project such as this, and even fewer feel they know how to execute this type of project.
Quite frankly, publishing your own research doesn’t make sense for everyone. Research takes time, and there are a lot of steps you need to take if you want to publish findings that work well.
But, for those who do want to invest the time, research can pay dividends.