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July 29, 2015

Need Fresh Content for Content Marketing? Do Survey Research!

A Guest post by Debra Semans. Based in Atlanta, Debra, is the lead writer for Harpeth Marketing, as well as an independent researcher and focus group moderator. She can be reached at

frustrated at workWhile the debate rages about whether “Content is King”, many marketing researchers feel like Content is some maniacal despot, or at least a weighty albatross hung around your neck. You already have a 70-hour (or more) a week job! How are you supposed to make time to produce fresh content? And how do you make it fresh when everyone else is publishing content on the same topics? How many blogs on customer satisfaction measurement can the world endure?

Ironically, marketing researchers have the best source for fresh content right at their fingertips. I’m talking about marketing research! The results of a quick survey can fuel your blog posts for weeks.

Start with a topic that’s of interest to your audience. Develop three to five scaled questions, so you won’t have to spend resources in coding. Get a cost effective sample. Then, voila! Fresh Content.

Many marketing research firms have panels and run surveys periodically either as an omnibus offering or simply to keep panel members engaged. And you all have your online survey software. Why not use these resources as an opportunity to create new content for your marketing?

If you don’t have a panel, you can, of course, use a third party panel vendor. Additionally, there are several cost-effective ways to conduct a short survey that you can consider:

  • Omnibus Surveys. Many marketing research companies run omnibus surveys on a weekly or monthly basis. The sample is usually substantial (one thousand completes or more, nationally representative), the results come with basic demographic crosstabs, and the turn-around is fast (usually a few days to a week.) The idea is that you share the survey with other marketers; like a timeshare, you only pay for the questions you want to include in that survey. There are also targeted omnibus surveys (e.g., Latinos, Moms) if needed.
  • Google Consumer Surveys. If you haven’t checked out GCS since the product was introduced several years ago, you might be surprised to find that they have built in flexibility that makes the tool more applicable. You can ask up to ten questions, and you can target your sample. Yes, these options cost more, but the price is very reasonable.
  • DIY Platforms. Many of the DIY platforms have the ability to source sample inexpensively. While their capabilities vary, they might fit your needs, especially since you are using the results for content marketing.

Many companies balk at spending any money to create content, but a minimal investment in marketing research can go a long way. For example, let’s assume you asked three questions on a topic to a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. You could write the following blogs:

  1. Analysis of total results.
  2. One or two blogs about the most frequently highlights by supplementing with internet research, an expert interview, or another resource.
  3. Different usage by demographic subgroups: older versus younger, male versus female, ethnicity, income, etc.
  4. Conduct a poll on the same topic on your Facebook page, or among your blog subscribers and report on the results.

Then, of course, you might also get a guest blogger to comment on your results. Or turn all the blogs into an eBook, if appropriate. Webinar, anyone? At any rate, for a minimal investment, you get a lot of content, as well as demonstrating your expertise, creativity and thought leadership.

And don’t forget a press release on the study. Because the even better news is that – just like you – everyone else is always looking for fresh content. Your results might be picked up by other bloggers or media outlets, earning you valuable link backs.

Next time you’re looking at those blank spaces on your editorial calendar and wondering what to write about think marketing research! The benefits are great and the investment minimal.

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