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Getting Real(-time) with Market Research


Content marketers are constantly looking to create and distribute compelling content that resonates with their target audience. In business-to-business (B2B) marketing, writing articles has become one of the most common tactics B2B marketers use to achieve this goal.

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) “B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends,” 81 percent of B2B content marketers write articles to reach their audience—second only to writing social media posts.

But there’s a problem with writing articles to reach your audience: everyone is doing it. Your audience is inundated with article content—much of it mediocre. And even the most aesthetically pleasing articles often repurpose existing information rather than provide new and truly valuable insights. As a result, it’s more difficult than ever for your brand’s article content to stand out from the noise.

One way B2B marketers can immediately infuse their content with greater value is to invest in primary research.

Conducting primary research is an excellent way to provide your target audience with unique and highly useful insights that are backed up by data–something we like to call “nutritious content.” Here’s how incorporating primary research into your content strategy can help your brand provide more value.

Provide Your Audience With Insightful Information

When executed well, primary research helps your audience better understand their industry or job position. For example, the CMI benchmark report cited above shows content marketers how they stack up to their peers by providing data on which content marketing tactics are used most often and which are perceived as most effective.

Because this research is genuinely useful to B2B marketers, the findings have been shared extensively. As of this writing, the report has been mentioned on more than 220 domains and Tweeted more than 1,200 times, and the SlideShare of the report has received more than 60,000 views.

Build Your Brand Authority

Customers and site visitors today expect your brand to be able to show them how you can demonstrably improve their business. Publishing original research data can be a compelling way to position your brand as a trusted leader in your niche.

For instance, if your company provides conversion rate optimization services, pointing to research you’ve conducted on how certain landing page designs impact conversion rates is far more compelling than simply stating you’re an authority on the topic.

A company that does this well is MECLABS, via their Marketing Experiments website. They consistently experiment with how to optimize various marketing activities, and publish research reports on the results.

For example, rather than claiming they can improve a landing page, they present data on how specific design changes to pages they’ve tested can improve purchase rates by 61 percent. This type of conclusive research bolsters MECLABS’ reputation as an authority in B2B marketing.

Better Understand How to Meet Your Customer’s Needs

Finally, incorporating primary research into your content marketing gives you an opportunity to learn more about the challenges your customers face every day.

If you, for instance, sell to chief marketing officers (CMO’s), conducting a benchmark survey to learn their primary goals, challenges and spending priorities—and then publishing your research findings—can provide you with valuable information about their key pain points. You can then use this information to refine and improve the quality of your content to make it more effective in helping CMO’s solve their challenges and achieve their goals.

Our Investment in Software End-User Research

Given the benefits of incorporating primary research into your content marketing strategy, we decided to invest in building a survey tool at Software Advice that collects survey responses and analyzes the results in real-time. One of our first research projects with this new tool is to survey users of customer relationship management (CRM) software systems about the key benefits and challenges they experience.

In our survey, we’ll also be looking at which CRM applications companies are most likely to invest in next year, and how investment in other CRM applications will change. Every year, we’ll continue to refine and iterate on this survey to identify and analyze key trends that emerge over time.

As we build on our data, we hope to create a living and breathing body of research that also serves as evergreen content that will remain relevant to our site visitors over time.

If you’re a CRM software user, I invite you to take five minutes to participate in our survey. I’d really appreciate your help. After you finish the survey, you can check out several charts summarizing our findings so far.

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Derek Singleton

About the Author

Derek Singleton joined Software Advice after graduating from Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. At Software Advice, he manages content related to the CRM software market and reports on business-to-business (B2B) marketing technologies, topics and trends.

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