Start with the end in mind
Be very clear with what story you want to communicate to your audience with the research data. This way, you can ask the right questions – and avoid asking questions that are unnecessary (saving the respondents time and lessening possible frustration). Don’t misunderstand: I’m not suggesting that you word the questions in a way to get a certain response, but think about the essential information you want to glean and focus on that. The details of your story may change once you see the results.
Use a stats person or a research firm
While there are a plethora of free or inexpensive survey tools available, I’m a proponent of working with a researcher or a research firm from the beginning of the project unless your survey is very straightforward and requires little analysis. As surveys become more common, I think a higher value is placed on surveys with a solid methodology and a participant base, both of which a research firm can help with. Here are some additional benefits of working with a researcher:
- You can make sure you are asking questions in a straightforward way so they are not misinterpreted – and you get more valid answers.
- Some firms can help you reach the right people if your internal lists are too small.
- Once you have the results, researchers can help you tabulate and analyze the data. This is often not as simple as it seems, especially if you need to compare subsets of the data you collected.
- While survey tools are easy to use, they certainly take time to program and test, which is something else to factor in if time is of the premium.
Consider the design
Think about how your readers will want to get all of the information from the survey. Asking yourself these kinds of questions can help you decide if you want to use a white paper or an eBook to disseminate the results:
- How much detail do you want to provide readers with the report? Do you want the report to be traditional research that provides a lot of analysis or do you want to focus primarily on the charts?
- Do you want to provide data only or do you want to offer commentary on why the results may be what they are?
Include social sharing
When producing the final report, add social sharing options to the footer. Not only will the presence of these social icons remind people to share the report, but having pre-populated tweets and messages makes things easy on your reader.
Have a distribution plan
This is the step I think is often rushed. Once the content is ready, we just want to get it out there! Think through all of the ways you can use this valuable content. This post from Tom Pisello outlines more than 20 ways you can leverage research data.
For example, when I worked on the B2B content marketing research last year, I planned follow up posts that addressed challenges identified in the research.
Or, I talked with another firm who did a large research project, and instead of releasing a comprehensive report, they are sharing results on various blogs and in publications in their space.
As part of your promotional plan, decide if you want to require registration for the research. Depending on what your deliverables are you, you can use a combination approach. For instance, for that research I developed last year, we decided not to gate the the primary research report, but we created sub-reports that took a more granular look at how certain industries and companies of various sizes were using the research. We did require registration for these sub-reports.
Create a blog post as the landing page
Regardless of your distribution plan, I like to use a blog post instead of a landing page as the primary place to announce the research report. Not only can this page be more easily shared, but if you use content discovery tools that to help readers find “You May Also Like” content, it’s a great way to get additional visibility for your research.
Do you have experience with research reports? What other tips would you recommend?
About the author: Michele is the Content Development Director of the Content Marketing Institute where where she works with a fabulous group of contributors who know a lot about content marketing. She's also a B2B content marketing consultant who has a passion for helping companies use content to connect with their ideal buyers. You can follow her onTwitter @michelelinn or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B.