Market research is often thought of as a way to collect data to improve internal processes. Organizations typically use market research to answer the following questions:
- “How do our customers rate our customer service?”
- “Why do our customers choose our product or service?”
- “How likely are our customers to recommend our company?”
This type of market research for content creation is rarely shared outside the organization’s walls.
However, there is a growing trend in the industry to utilize the benefits of independent third-party feedback to drive content strategies and share this data publicly. Let’s face it; there is inherent bias when a salesperson visits a customer and says, “our product is better than our competitors because of its capabilities and the customer service we offer.” Any rational client would be thinking to themselves, “of course, he or she would say that.” The only opinion that really matters is the clients you are pitching to.
Better is the opinion of the buyer, not the seller.
This is why many companies and marketing teams are commissioning market research to collect industry user and customer feedback. This type of data makes more of an impact on sales and marketing teams. Rather than saying, “I believe our product is better because of our capabilities and customer service,” you can make the claim users rated our capabilities 24% higher than our closest competitor and users rated our customer service 34% higher than our closest competitor.
This data derives directly from end users. It’s just like the customers and prospects salespeople are trying to reach in person, by phone, and online. This type of market research creates unique, proprietary, and customizable data to integrate into your content creation and content strategy.
How can market research influence content creation?
Several options exist, which were discussed in a prior content market research post on the nDash blog. Market research content deliverables include reports like infographics, thought-leadership whitepapers, blogs, comparison cards, and social sharing data nuggets. Develop these content marketing options from a simple online survey. Share them with users or decision-makers in your industry.
One of the benefits of content market research is the ability to repurpose it.
- Infographics create a visual appeal and attraction, which highlight several of the key findings from the industry study.
- Thought-leadership pieces can be structured to dig in, add clarity, and add context to the market research findings written by some of the most talented members of your organization.
- Content creation also includes lots of blogs that can be written on the findings of one market research study ranging from a focus on one data point to tying together several data points in one post.
- Compare cards are a great way to compare your company to your key opponents based on user opinions in a simple one-page breakdown.
- With an endless amount of data, one study can produce weeks or months of steady social media streams highlighting key findings from the study, all of which link to more information.
How does an online survey project like this work?
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of using market research to drive content strategy let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of such a project. The survey script and findings will be unique to each client and to each industry. The online survey process must follow a very specific process.
Search for a Market Research Company That Specializes in Content Strategy Research
Once you decide that you are interested in using market research to feed your content marketing, the first step is to reach out to a third-party market research consultant. Using a third-party market research firm is key here. It relates back to the point about this data being more powerful if the data is collected independently to eliminate any in-house bias. Using a consultant for this process also ensures the project runs smoothly and quickly with as few hiccups as possible.
Request a Proposal
Once you reach out to the market research consultant, the company will put together a scope of work or proposal for your review after a few discussions to understand your needs. This proposal will highlight objectives, timelines, and approaches. It should walk you through the steps and the plan to complete the project from steps A through Z.
Hold a Kickoff Meeting
The kickoff meeting launches the market research project. The market research consultant should prepare an agenda for this, which covers key objectives and expectations from the report. The ultimate goal of the kickoff is to ensure the consultant is on the same page with your team in regard to what you want to learn and how the data will be utilized for sales and content marketing.
The work plan describes key dates, deliverables, and responsible parties for each step of the market research. It will address when the survey is expected to be drafted, fielded, and completed. It will also give you an anticipated date for the final report, including all of the steps leading to this point.
This is where the market research consultant takes the feedback from the proposal calls and kickoff meetings and translates your needs and wants into questions. Survey design is a scientific process. How you ask a question matters. They need to be brief, easily comprehendible, and unbiased. The flow of questions also matters. The survey design is probably the biggest step of the market research process. A good questionnaire will yield good results.
Among all the variables in the market research process, this one will most impact the cost. The setup and reporting can largely be streamlined. But your targeted audience can be tricky. Reach B2C or B2B decision-maker audiences through online panels inexpensively. Online panel companies essentially “rent out” panel members to companies to complete surveys. If your audience is very niche, the project becomes much more difficult and less feasible to obtain a large number of surveys, and costs will be significantly higher.
In some cases, audiences may be too niche for panels, so market research companies utilize social media tools like Facebook and LinkedIn to target survey respondents. These platforms offer excellent targeting capabilities by virtue of users’ willingness to provide information about themselves on their online social profiles. Just think about how much information is on your public LinkedIn profile that market research companies can utilize to target invitations and advertisements.
If you have an in-house list or database of users, there’s a significant cost reduction. Also, if you decide to target several industries rather than one, it results in a larger pool of potential survey candidates, which also helps manage costs down. Ultimately, the market research consultant will find a way to get the survey completes you need.
After the survey draft finalizes, the market research company programs it into its online software for testing. They will send you an online link so you can see how the survey looks on a computer, tablet, or phone. In addition to testing with your team, the survey also goes to a small percentage sample (1% or 2%). This ensures everything is working properly and respondents understand the questions correctly. A soft launch or pre-test is a critical piece in the process.
Fieldwork & Live Data
Now the exciting part. Fieldwork is when the project is live, and the completed survey starts rolling in. Most market research companies will be able to share a passcode-protected link with your team so you can view the data in real-time. If you don’t have the time, the consultant will update you periodically on the results. Fieldwork can range from as little as a few days to a few weeks.
Analysis & Reporting
After fieldwork is complete and closes, the market research firm starts the analysis and drafts a report. These reporting deliverables could include an infographic, social nuggets, or a raw summary of the findings for your team to display graphically. Once the draft report is complete, the market research company will debrief on the results and make any necessary changes to finalize the deliverables. You can also work with a content creation community to hire a full arsenal of writers to plan future pieces.
Final Thoughts on Content Creation Market Research Surveys to Drive Strategies
The content marketing online survey process is streamlined. The largest variable for both cost and timeline is the targeted audience you are trying to reach. A general B2C survey asking about beverage preference will be much less expensive than a survey of C-level B2B decision-makers in specific industries.
Regardless of cost, I would argue the ROI of these types of user and industry surveys used for content marketing far outweigh the costs. They produce independent feedback from customers and non-customers. Content marketing teams and sales teams alike can top into this data. These online surveys create an endless amount of content with the ability to repurpose across multiple platforms. This data provides an objective and independent way to market your products and services.
There’s a story for users and customers in every industry. Have you found yours yet?
Author Bio: George Kuhn is the Owner & President of Drive Research, a market research company in Syracuse, NY. Drive Research specializes in online industry surveys and reports used for content marketing.