Copywriting and Content Marketing for Technology Companies

Grab your prospects’ attention with original research

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Problem Solved: How to Fill Your 2021 Content Calendar with Original Research

Original Research Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is original research? How does it differ from traditional market research?

Original research is slightly different from traditional market research. It’s specifically designed to uncover noteworthy themes and storylines, which lend themselves to creating unique content that’s never been published before. Traditional market research, on the other hand, isn’t conducted for content marketing purposes – rather, it’s often used for internal decision-making such as determining pricing, product development, etc.

2. What are the benefits of original research?

  • You’ll realize a positive return on investment, because you can create a wide range of high-value, high-interest content from the results.
  • You’ll have loads of content to fill your content marketing pipeline.
  • You can create engaging content that aligns with your marketing strategies, such as generating leads, driving thought leadership, raising awareness, or generating media attention.
  • The results are unique; no one else can claim them.

3. What is your research process (Phase 1)?

There are two separate phases to an original research project: executing the research itself and then creating content from the results. I price both phases separately. Listed below are the steps in Phase One, the research process. 

  1. Planning
  • To get know your company and target market, I’ll hold a kickoff meeting with you and your team to discuss your market, audience, problems your solutions solve, unique differentiators, value propositions and more.
  • Next, we’ll talk through your goals, content ideas, and initial thoughts for an original research project.
  • I’ll create a project plan that summarizes that information including the methodology we’ll use, research topics, and proposed timeline.
  • Next, I’ll create a rough draft of survey questions that are carefully designed to help elicit storylines and themes that can be used in creating content.
  • We’ll also discuss how we’re recruiting respondents to answer the survey.
  1. Creating the survey and testing
  • Once you’ve approved the survey questions, my team will input them into an online survey tool.
  • We’ll also test the survey with trusted colleagues who have familiarity with these types of projects so we can ensure the survey is clear and logical.
  • When it’s ready to go, a link to the survey will be emailed to our target respondents.
  1. Analyzing data and presenting results
  • Once we’ve received results and closed the survey, my team will analyze the data and compile it into a report in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.
  • I’ll present these results to you and your team and answer any questions you have.
  1. Identify storylines and create a content plan
  • I’ll recommend engaging storylines and themes to use in the content.
  • Once we’ve agreed upon storylines to use in the content, I’ll create a content plan focused on creating memorable, unique content in a variety of formats using the approved themes. We’ll also discuss next steps for Phase Two, which is content creation.

4. What is your content creation process (Phase 2)?

Once we’ve reviewed the survey results, we’ll enter Phase Two of the overall project and start talking in detail about what content to create to generate the greatest return on investment.

One of the biggest issues I see companies make is creating one larger asset (such as an eBook) and no supporting content. I think that’s a mistake, as there are so many ways original research can be repurposed.

In most cases (and depending on your marketing goals), I’ll recommend we start with a “keystone piece,” such as an eBook or white paper. It can be the cornerstone of your marketing campaigns, and it’s straightforward to take that content and transform it into complementary pieces such as a webinar, infographics, social media posts, articles, blog posts, etc.

5. Can you provide three to five high-level suggestions for our original research project such as proposed working titles and a brief description?

Absolutely; in fact, that’s exactly what we’ll brainstorm together during the initial planning phase. To start our work together, I’ll hold a kickoff meeting with you and your team to understand your market, audience, problems your solutions solve, unique differentiators, value propositions and more. This will give me the background I need to work with you on the original research project.

The next step is to brainstorm ideas for the original research. This is one of the most important steps in the entire process, because we want to consider this all-important question: “What content will be the most engaging for your target audience?” We’ll need a clear answer because it will define our research focus.

Questions we’ll consider include:

  • What are your goals for the research and its resulting content?
  • Who is your audience for the content? Who is your audience for the research? (They aren’t always the same.)
  • What information will your target audience find most compelling and interesting?
  • What top-of-mind issues/challenges are they facing that can be included in the research?
  • Does your target audience have assumptions that can be validated in the survey?
  • Has your research topic already been covered by anyone else? (If yes, how can we focus on a different angle?)
  • What actions do you want prospects to take after consuming your content?

6. How are respondents recruited?

There are three ways to recruit respondents:

  1. Send the survey to your customers using an in-house list
  2. Contract with a research company to use a panel of paid respondents
  3. Partner with another organization to send the survey to their list

All of these options have positives and negatives. Using an in-house list is free, of course, but it can take longer than using a panel to receive the desired number of responses. And someone on your team will be responsible for assembling the list based on the respondent criteria, sending the survey, and emailing reminders to take the survey.

Panels can be rather expensive depending on the number of responses desired and the criteria for respondents. The more complex the criteria, the harder it is to find respondents that match those characteristics which can impact the response rate and the price. The positives of using a panel are that the panel company is responsible for emailing their pool of panelists until the desired number of responses is reached. Normally, survey responses are also received more quickly using panels than in-house lists.

Using a partner is similar to the positives/negatives of using your own in-house list: it can take awhile to receive the desired number of responses, and you’re relying on the partner to email their list with reminders to answer the survey. The positives are that it gives you a new pool of respondents that match your criteria, and it’s normally free in exchange for offering something of value to the partner such as early access to the survey results or co-promotion.

7. Can we specify a minimum number of responses for the original research (like 300, for example)?

Yes, we can definitely specify a minimum number of responses. One thing to be aware of, though, is that it’s tougher to receive responses from B2B respondents than consumers so 300 is a high number to satisfy. With my previous surveys, we’ve set a goal of 100 respondents.

If we’re using a panel, it’s important to understand that the panel company charges for each individual response received which means specifying a very high response rate (like 300) can be quite expensive. And, since the survey results are being used for content marketing purposes, we don’t need as many respondents as we would if the results were used for internal business-critical decisions like modifying pricing or introducing new products.

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