According to WordPress.com’s latest stats, more than 38.7 million blog posts were published across its network in February, 2014. Considering that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of total content published online during that month, it’s safe to say that each piece of content you create is unlikely to remain visible for very long in today’s somewhat turbulent SERPs and burgeoning social media streams. As monthly posting averages continue to increase, the odds of gaining traction—let alone viral traction—tend to decrease.
So, what’s a B2B content marketer to do?
“Now that so many B2B marketers are focused on content marketing, you have to get creative if you want to elevate yourself above the competition. By investing in primary research, you can produce more compelling and original content that is backed by quantitative analysis,” says Derek Singleton, Analyst at Software Advice and Managing Editor of The B2B Marketing Mentor Blog. “Investing in this type of content can help build the authority of your brand, as well as trust with your target buyers.”
We tend to agree. Content is simply content until people care about it, which is why it’s so crucial to publish valuable information that compels conversation while establishing your brand as an industry leader. Original market data that assists your target audience in what they do accomplishes that and more. In case you’re not convinced, consider these additional advantages of primary research and you’ll quickly see why it’s content marketing gold.
Sharpen Your Positioning
Besides boosting your brand’s authority, credibility, reputation, and influence, this tactic offers another significant benefit. Making a firm commitment to primary research and the development of content around resulting data allows you to sharpen your brand’s positioning. It gives you an opportunity to define your niche clearly, as well as shape your thought leadership.
Challenge the Status Quo
It’s not enough to prove your intellect these days. You have to be thought provoking and provide meaningful information that challenges the status quo. Original research can help you identify future trends and show your target audience where changes need to be made now rather than later when opportunity cost may be greater. That’s where true value lies.
Perhaps the biggest pull to champion an investment in primary research is that brands can generate plenty of spin-off content. Over time, a single piece of research has the ability to spawn multiple blog posts, articles, webinars, infographics, videos, news releases, podcasts, Slideshare presentations, and more.
Atomizing your research report to fuel your blog and other content marketing channels ensures your feeds stay relevant and active while your brand gets the biggest bang for its marketing buck. Don’t forget that analyzing results, explaining your research methodology, or identifying, dissecting, and understanding trends offers plenty of fodder for interesting topics. In the context of your entire content marketing program, the budget required for original research is relatively negligible.
Drive Conversation in the Right Direction
Depending on how you release your research, you can leverage the data to engage in one-on-one, in-depth conversations with leads and prospects. This is an ideal opportunity to engage in conversation that points to a solution—your solution. In the end, it’s all about turning content into conversation and then converting that conversation into revenue.
Retain More Clients
Primary research as part of a robust content marketing strategy can be great for acquisitions, but that doesn’t help the C-level crowd who wonder whether yours is still the best team to help grow their business. Relevant research can help you create content that convinces existing clients you’re still worth it—that you know what you’re doing. Done the right way, your research won’t only improve retention rates, but it’ll help you upsell new services, too.
Similar: Content Marketing Strategy
Besides serving as excellent link bait, research generates social sharing. High-value, unique data is both useful and interesting, which are two characteristics people look for when deciding to share content with their online communities. The result is better rankings, greater awareness, and more eyeballs on your content.
Also see: Clickbait Examples
Rake In Tons of User-Generated Content
Research can be a powerful enabler of user-generated content. Depending on your topic, research techniques, and methods for gathering data, responses serve as a great source of this content type. Get creative about the way you pose questions, and you’re sure to have plenty of original ideas and opinions voluntarily submitted to your entity along with built-in data you can use in your next report.
Build Social Proof
You know what all those likes, shares, +1s, comments, and pins amount to? You guessed it—social proof that carries plenty of persuasive power.
Generate More Leads
Highly focused research neatly packaged in a downloadable white paper is generally a great lead generator. Be sure to add lots of visual content to make your report easy to digest.
But Research Is Expensive, Right?
Not necessarily. Yes, access to data, deeper intelligence, and the sharp eye of experienced industry analysts will require a bigger portion of your budget if you’re looking to create something that’s more complex in nature. However, in-house experiments, analytics, A/B testing, and other online research tools offer inexpensive, alternative solutions that also produce compelling results. Combine that data with your unique perspective and expert advice and you’ll have new material for an array of content archetypes. In fact, the folks at Software Advice have built their own survey tool that collects responses and analyzes them in real time.
“We recently decided to invest in user surveys to track the benefits of software from a user’s perspective. As a result, we’re developing content that speaks directly to the needs of software end users and gauges the effectiveness of some of the most popular products on the market.”
If you want to weigh in on CRM software and make your opinion matter, consider taking Software Advice’s survey.
The bottom line: get clever about your content marketing. You can add to the noise with recycled information no one cares about, or you can invest in unique insights that are sure to give your campaign a few extra marketing miles.
Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He’s one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don’t even want to know what he calls pancakes.