Data shows that 44% of marketers use some form of research as part of their content program. This figure will only continue to rise over 2016. Why? Marketers are finding that original research can be a compelling subject for ongoing programs.

How to Approach Research

Most companies engage in a research project to prove out a key product feature in their product. If you want your research output to share and talked about, forget this direction. Research projects should answer key questions from your customers. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Who will read the research?
  • What do we want to tell your readers? What hypothesis is our research solving?
  • Do you understand the key informational needs of the target audience?
  • What kind of research has already exists in this area? Customers don’t like reading the same thing over and over.
  • What is the ultimate goal for the research? Are you trying to build awareness for your service? Do you need leads?

Developing a Research Process

You might have noticed some companies just using a web survey tool. They send mass email a few lists and ask for product feedback. That’s it. To create original research you need to take this one step further. Here are some best practices we noticed in the industry:

  • Only ask questions integral to your research.
  • Limit the amount of questions to no more than 10 if possible.
  • In your initial direct email, tell them exactly how much time it will take to complete the survey.
  • For completion, give the responders early access or full access to the results.

Another great option is to work with a third party to handle the distribution and result tally.

Finally, work with partners on your research. Find organizations that can give your project credibility or access to a wider audience. You could even consider partnering with a media company or trade publication. Partners can also help fund research projects.

Distributing the Results

This is where many organizations get it wrong. Why put all your energy and budget into the research if you don’t have a distribution plan.

Today, most marketers are packaging research into eBooks and whitepapers. Make sure to work with your design team so the content looks engaging. Before distributing the research, you could also ask industry influences for feedback. They might even assist you in spreading the word.

Once you’re ready to distribute the content, this can be a great time to review all your assets. An eBook, whitepaper or video is just one form. From the original content you can create infographics, interviews or shorter blog posts.

While it’s tempting, don’t gate your content. Even if you’re a B2B marketer. It’s easy to put a form in front of your research. If you do you’re going to restrict it’s reach and search rankings. If you’re tasked with generating leads, create an extra un-gated version as a teaser.

Last, Zemanta can help you promote your new research across thousands of premium publishers. Pay-per-Click advertising is an excellent channel for reaching new audiences and potential customers.

In summary, research can be a core part of your content marketing program. If you’re considering an investment in research, consider these points to get started right. We look forward to seeing what you can do!