Primary research is expensive and hard to get going, right? It doesn’t have to be, and you shouldn’t dismiss it as it can be phenomenally effective. It’s a great way to reach new audiences, elevate peoples’ perceptions of your brand and generate positive media coverage.
What’s holding you back?
We find that a lot of clients are still reluctant to commission their own primary research. Cost is a common concern, but primary research doesn’t have to be that expensive. In fact, the additional cost is often outweighed by the savings you can make on promoting a less compelling report—how much do you normally spend on media? Some companies are put off because they don’t have the expertise or experience to run a research-led project, but that’s where agencies come in. An agency can help you throughout the entire process; it can help you frame the research, make decisions about things like sample sizes, write the questionnaire—it can even interpret the data and write the full report.
Primary research isn’t right for everyone, but if you want to present your company as an expert in its field, that’s ahead of the curve and in tune with its customers’ needs, then it’s hard to beat. And if you stick at it, you’ll find that it won’t just help you grow the size of your audience, but also the quality.
Not convinced yet? Here’s five reasons why we think it should be part of your marketing plan.
1. It can elevate your brand
Primary research is a great way to demonstrate that you are a thought leader and an expert in your field. You’re not just regurgitating information you’ve seen online; you’re actually adding value and bringing something fresh to your audience. And instead of customers seeing you as just another company trying to sell them a product or service, they’ll think of you as a trusted supplier that understands their needs and has the knowledge to help.
Plus, it’s a great way to learn more about your current audience and elevate your position in their estimations. You may think you’re already adept at meeting their needs, but those needs may have changed or new entrants to the market may be meeting them in cheaper and more convenient ways. Asking your customers directly is a great way to find out exactly what matters to them.
2. It can help reach you new people
Writing a report about something new, exploring an underrepresented demographic or just coming at something old from a new angle can produce some very interesting results. Sure, you could just reference other people’s reports, but if you’re not saying anything new there’s little reason for journalists to cover your report—if you want to get other people to cite your work, some powerful new stats are hard to beat.
And people love to share stats on social media—so it’s a great way to increase your reach. And the more primary research you conduct, the more people will look to you as someone to follow for the latest insights. In time they’ll be expecting your reports and will come to you directly.
3. It can keep on giving
If you become the original source other people will help promote you. News sources may share your data to back up their own content and other companies will use your stats in their own blogs—you’ve probably even done this yourself. All of which will help drive people back to your original report.
Many of the reports that we have created have been cited in other articles and papers for 18 months or more after publication. This can help increase your reach and give you credibility—work we’ve done has recently been cited in business publications like Forbes, on technology sites like cio.com, and by respected brands like IBM.
4. It can help you to tell the story you want to tell
We’ll often get feedback like: “Love this stat, can you get for retailers in the US.” Unsurprisingly, the answer is often no. Sometimes authors, especially those in academia, share their datasets, but that’s still rare—which means that you’re limited to the data available. But if you conduct your own research, you have the full dataset at your disposal.
Conducting your own research means that you have complete control over the data—what you ask, who you ask, and how you cut it. This means that you’re not constrained by what stats are available. You can test your own hypothesises and delve into the stories that emerge from the data.
This is something we regularly do for our own clients. This might take the form of a series of spin-off reports, looking at particular regions, key verticals or comparing the differences between SMEs and large enterprises. Or, you could create an interactive microsite that lets journalists and potential customers create their own charts. As I said earlier, sharing data is still relatively rare, but this lets you do it in a controlled way. And it works. We’ve seen charts built in our interactive tools appear on sites like Forbes, and we know that people are using them to support their own presentations—and what better way to raise your profile than getting your name in the business justification?
5. It can help you shape your strategy
Obviously, we think content marketing is really important, but we accept that it’s not everything. Research can also provide insight that can help you shape your product roadmap and business strategy. This doesn’t have to be limited to the topic at hand, think about the questions you would like to ask your audience, about their needs and their opinions of your company. You can ask your customers questions that could have a direct impact on your business strategy going forward.
You can also ask people how much and what types of content they consume, and what content they feel is missing or lacking something. Your audience is much more likely to engage with content that they feel has been designed for them. Honing your strategy and only producing content that gets read will help save you time, money and resources—your audience isn’t interested in emails, cut them down; they’re more active on LinkedIn, focus your efforts there. It sounds simple, but knowing exactly where your audience is can have a huge impact on your marketing efforts.
Posted by John on 28 June 2019