In my last post, I discussed some of the major findings from the State of Original Research for Marketing 2019 survey by Mantis Research and BuzzSumo. This research found that a substantial number of companies have made original research an integral part of their marketing efforts.
Sixty-one percent of the survey respondents who had conducted research reported that it had met or exceeded their expectations, and 88% said they plan to conduct additional research in the next 12 months.
I also argued in my post that for most large and mid-size B2B companies, and for many smaller B2B firms, original research has now become essential for effective marketing. The shorthand version of my argument is this:
- Effective B2B marketing requires the development and use of real thought leadership content.
- Real thought leadership content must be both novel and authoritative.
- The only way to consistently develop novel and authoritative content is by conducting original research.
Surveys are popular because they can provide compelling data and because they have become easier and less expensive to use. Several firms now offer free or inexpensive tools for conducting surveys. (Note: If you need advice on selecting a survey tool, check out this excellent blog post by Clare McDermott with Mantis Research.)
As the diagram shows, there are two major categories of original research – secondary and primary. Secondary research involves the review and analysis of data or research that has been published by others. This includes data published by governmental entities, and data and/or research published within academia and by other private organizations (consulting firms, research firms, other business organizations, etc.).
Interviews can be used on a stand-alone basis or in conjunction with other primary research methods. The major advantage of interviews is that they enable the use of open-ended questions and therefore can produce more in-depth and nuanced answers.
This method involves the analysis of data that is proprietary to your company. For example, if your company provides some type of SaaS software application, this research method could be used to compile and analyze data regarding how your customers are using the application. A good example of research featuring this method is the 2019 State of B2B Content Consumption and Demand Report for Marketers produced by NetLine Corporation.
This research method is widely used in social sciences such as psychology and behavioral economics. When you conduct an experiment, you expose participants to alternative versions of a hypothetical situation, and then ask them a set of questions regarding their experience. The objective is usually to measure differences in certain aspects of the alternatives. A field test is similar to an experiment except that the alternatives are presented in a real-world setting. An “A/B test” is a good example of a type of field test used frequently in marketing.