In this blog, Jake Sadler explains how market research can be used to fuel content creation at scale, supporting the development of issue-focused content that resonates with your target audience.
To the unassuming, market research sounds like something BBC’s Panorama conducts to find out how many UK consumers like to have long showers and large baths, wasting loads of water in the process and helping to kill the planet.
However, what may be surprising to some is that market research is one of the most effective ways to create a variety of marketing content at scale.
Quite simply; it helps produce original statistics and insights from a select range of consumers, business leaders or whoever you choose, on multiple topic areas which in turn allow you to create your own news stories. A 20-question project, for example, can provide generational comparisons, back up unfounded opinions on industry trends, provoke discussion about product points and help you uncover customer concerns or delights.
With these entirely original, fresh findings, you instantly give weight to what you’re putting out there; it gives the audience a reason to want to find out more. It isn’t just the usual ‘corporate spiel’.
To help understand just how market research fuels content creation, let’s break this discussion down into answering three key questions: what research should I conduct, why does the research help create content and how do I turn the research into different content types?
What market research should I conduct?
There are generally two perceived approaches to what research you should conduct. The first, is product specific; looking into problems your customers face and getting stats to help create content on how your product helps solve those problems. The other, is more sensationalist; looking at wider societal trends to understand how they are changing or might change something.
Our advice is to figure out a theme for the research. What overarching theme do you want to focus on? You might want to find out more about customer pain points, or opinions on the direction of the industry. Doing this first helps you not only frame how you want your outputs to look, but also how you get there by asking linked questions.
Our three step process for conducting market research is as follows:
1 – Discover the theme: What topic do you want to tackle with the research? It might be an industry debate, a customer pain point or to help with product development.
2 – Write the headlines you want to achieve: Next, if your market research is going to help create content you want to know what it’s going to say. Write your headline, blog titles, what you would want the press to say if it gained coverage.
3 – Create questions that lead to those headlines: There is an art to questionnaire building. Nudge theory, for example, explains that people will choose results in certain ways depending on where they’ve approached them from, consider this when building out the questions.
Following this process helps you centralise the research so it owns a narrative, maintains focus on the required outcomes in headlines, then works backwards to figure out how the results are achieved. Figure out your theme and you figure out why the market research is needed.
So you’ve got your idea for the research, know why you want to do it and have managed to get the results, what next? Why do these results help in creating a plethora of content at a larger than usual scale?
Why does research help create content?
Market research is not a gimmick: it’s an incredibly effective way of generating new information and backing up current opinions. On that topic, there are a lot of opinions these days – a lot of noise. So don’t add to it with hearsay and fluffy copy.
‘In a ‘post-truth’ world where consumers are more informed than ever before, it is more important than ever to get robust, transparent, and authentic data to back up your stories.’ - PR Week
We all have opinions but having hard facts to back them up will help win trust with your audience and validate your stories and content. It’s used by many brands in direct marketing – think Pepsi conducting research to find out if UK consumers prefer Pepsi to Coca-Cola and voila, they have reputable data to back up claims that Pepsi is the nation’s favourite soft drink. This considered, market research is a great way of producing meaningful content with insights customers and prospects will actually be interested in.
Another reason why market research is so useful is that it can be used to create a variety of content assets. For example, the information acquired from market research on your target audience and their pain points, can be used to create blogs on said pain points, infographics as to what the results mean, and website content on your customers’ needs.
How do I turn the research into different content types?
Hopefully you’ve done a content audit to see what content you have, what you’re missing, what works well and what doesn’t. If there are any gaps or you need specific formats of content (eBooks, thought leadership and so on), statistics and insights from the research can be re-purposed into any content form you desire.
The main content you get from the research is the report itself. You can then turn it into a comprehensive eBook, analysing the data against the original theme and adding your insight to demonstrate expertise. Now you’ve got yourself a really strong piece of long-form content! You can also use the results to develop headlines for blogs, form the basis of an infographic, talk to your industry community on social media and much more.
The content world is now your oyster.
Inherently, conducting market research and publishing it helps position you as a thought leader in your industry. In a way it’s breaking new ground by uncovering things that may not have previously been understood nor considered. This kind of content shows your audience you are at the cutting edge of thought in the industry. It goes back to the old adage: people trust people – a brand can make as many claims as it wants about being great and leading, but the people within said business will be the ones others can relate to and put their trust in.
If you’ve followed our suggestions, stuck with a theme and created your desired market research headlines, turning the report into a variety of content should be a stroll in the park. All you need to do is think what content will work best for you. Our advice? Be creative. Market research might appear as boring statistics and data but they can be nuggets of gold. Use the information to tell real business stories and capture the attention and imagination of prospects all over the digital world.