Conducting original research is a considerable expense, but it can be key to strengthening your company’s PR and marketing outreach. InterNations is sharing some of the insights that our team has gained from conducting a large-scale survey for nine years.
Instead of relying on secondary data, original research implies you conduct your own studies into your topic of choice. It could take on many forms. You could create online surveys, interview customers, or run user tests, either by yourself or by consulting an agency.
At InterNations, our own in-house research focuses on our annual Expat Insider survey on living and working abroad. Last year, for example, our Business Intelligence Team analyzed 12,420 data sets from expats in 186 countries or territories worldwide. And our Graphic and Corporate Designer Salim helped us turn these results into an in-depth, 66-page report.
Why do so many of our colleagues from several teams work on all these spreadsheets full of data year after year? Is the effort worth it? The answer is a resounding “yes”, as it helps us increase brand awareness and brand authority.
Large-scale surveys, like any other kind of original research, are a long-term investment into your brand. Here are some ways it’ll pay off!
Increasing Brand Awareness & Authority
Expat Insider is among the world’s biggest surveys on living abroad. The results provide us with plenty of statistics on various destinations and topics, such as housing, healthcare, or local friendliness. By segmenting these results, we can target journalists specifically by location and/or area of interest.
Our survey helps us grow our media coverage by offering these journalists gripping storytelling suggestions. As lots of media outlets love a good “best of” list, our country and city rankings feature prominently in the press coverage. Last year, for instance, more than 950 articles focused on our most recent Expat Insider survey.
But original research is not just about getting your name out there. High-quality content also elevates your brand authority. By earning the audience’s trust, you’ll establish your expertise on your chosen topic.
“Releasing our Expat Insider report allows us to reach out to new journalists. We can offer them insights they can’t get anywhere else,” says our Media Spokesperson Caroline. “Due to our reputation as ‘expat experts’, lots of media representatives also approach us on their own initiative.”
And with a staggered release, you can use a single research project for several campaigns. Therefore, we first publish a report about the best and worst countries for expats. Our Expat City Ranking will follow a few months later.
Perhaps you’ll even find a topic to investigate year after year. You just need to keep things fresh and interesting by refining the methodology or choosing a slightly different focus for your original research. Expat Insider is now in its nineth year. And global accounting firm PwC has been conducting their CEO survey about key trends in management decision-making for 25 years!
Getting into Original Research the Easy Way
Original research is a gold mine for content marketing. Focusing on your findings ensures that your brand isn’t in the spotlight — too much hype makes your audience wary. Nevertheless, it will be associated with a relevant issue.
But what if you can’t think of a suitable topic right away? Simply “recycle” the market research you’ve already conducted or are planning to do anyway. Take your insights into your industry, audience, key markets, etc. Instead of using them for internal purposes only, you can also turn them into content marketing.
IKEA’s annual “Life at Home” report is a great example of such “recycled” content. They regularly share some of their quantitative and qualitative research on home and living worldwide.
Turning Original Research into SEO-Friendly Content
In marketing, as in PR, producing your own content is the gift that keeps on giving. Original research enables you to publish a stream of high-quality content on different channels and in different formats.
For example, you could present your results in a series of articles in your corporate blog. You’ll automatically be automatically generating content that is unique, fresh, and relevant to your brand — three key factors in any SEO strategy.
The right search terms will also pop up organically. This applies especially to long-tail keywords (lengthy and specific phrases). Lastly, primary data is a highly linkable asset. Over time, it will increase your number of backlinks and social shares.
“Our Expat Insider sub-page has huge link power because it’s received so many backlinks over the years. Especially links from reputable websites and media outlets, such as MSN or The Local,” says our SEO Manager Felix.
Targeting Niche Audiences with Original Research
If you’re targeting a specialist audience, information trumps infotainment. In-depth formats such as benchmarking studies, state-of-the-industry reports, white papers, or e-books fit this purpose much better than social media features.
The software company Unbounce, for instance, helps small business owners create and optimize landing pages to convert website traffic into customers. They also publish several resources based on their original research, such as a conversion benchmark report that analyzes their customers’ web traffic.
Generating Leads with Owned Content
Marketing your expertise makes sure that decision-makers will find you. Your data can subtly support your sales message as well. And linking access to your resources to providing contact information helps you collect potential leads. Unbounce, for instance, hides most of their benchmark report behind a “paywall”, with their potential customers’ contact info as currency.
Lead generation, PR campaigns, content marketing, social media … the examples from this article just scratch the surface when it comes to utilizing original research. But maybe they’ve inspired you to start brainstorming some creative ways of putting your brand on the map. And while you’re busy setting up a survey or digging deeper into your user data, we’ll be adding the finishing touches to Expat Insider 2022.
Image credits: InterNations / iStockphoto / Pexels (Timo Volz) / Unsplash (UX Indonesia)