According to a CMO Council study, eMarketer, Ascend2’s Content Marketing Survey and other reliable sources, research is considered the most effective type of content marketers use to generate demand.
But not all research is created equal.
When deciding on a research topic, provide an honest assessment of whether the topic is of interest to your audience or your company. The purpose of research is to engage your audience, build your brand, generate and nurture leads, and provide sales-ready leads. We’ve conducted hundreds of Research-Based Marketing programs at Ascend2, and the data proves that research is extremely effective. But for the research to be an effective demand generation tool, you must take the time to select the appropriate topic.
Sergio Balegno, Partner/CEO at Ascend2, has created hundreds of surveys. That experience provides insight into what topics the marketing community responded to. Here are some tips for choosing a topic:
Don’t make the focus of your topic too narrow. The most popular research topics we’ve fielded in the last 12 months is on email and content marketing strategies. Why? These are tactics used by most marketers, and the benefits of optimizing your email and content marketing programs are tangible (increased open rates, conversion, engagement, etc.). Most marketers what to review a research report on email or content marketing because it will help them do their job better. When you get more eyeballs, it equals more opportunity; especially when you are developing strategies for top-of-the-funnel marketing efforts.
Be tactical – choose tactics. Tactics (marketing technology, content marketing, email marketing, lead generation, personalization, customer experience) are always of interest to marketers. The strategy is to take popular topics (like email marketing) and align that topic to your services. For example, if you are a marketing automation company, having a research report on email marketing allows you to connect the benefits of your automation tool for implementing an email marketing program.
Don’t try to do too much with one research report. Less is more. You don’t need to answer all your questions in one research study. Be willing to say “no” when requests are made to add questions that expand the focus of your topic and increases the length of your survey. Remember, the longer your survey, the fewer people that will take the survey. After years of analyzing survey participation rates at Ascend2, we have developed a methodology that allows us to maximize survey participation, gather quality data, and be able to use that data to create research content that will result in a lot of customer engagement.
Research works, and when you successfully navigate the process of picking the best topic for your specific needs, you will increase the impact it has on your overall marketing program.