Beyond Your Research Findings: 13 Types of Content You Can Create

Time to read: 7 minutes

Survey-based research projects are a labor of love. Yes, they take substantial time and thought, but they are unique because there is so much you can do to use your data beyond the initial findings.

One mistake I see too often is that not much happens with the data once the findings are published. While repurposing your research can be limitless, here are some ideas of the types of content you can create from your research so you begin to see the opportunities.

SlideShare

If you have a PDF of your findings, put them on SlideShare. This is super easy to do and it makes it very easy for people to embed your research into their blog post. Additionally, you’ll get your research in front of new eyes.

TIP: Precisely because you will get your research in front of new eyes, consider that some people know very little about your research or your brand. Have a strong call to action (which may be a link to your blog post to learn more.).

Blog posts on your website

The most common type of content that sprouts from research are blog posts. And this makes sense: If you design your survey well, you should have a lot of stories you can tell. Here are are few ideas to consider:

  • Create a blog post that delves into one of the questions — and explores why the audience is feeling the way they are or what next step people may want to take.
  • Look at themes across various questions.
  • “Slice and dice” the data via cross-tabs, think about how you can report on differences between various segments.

However, don’t use the blog post to simply re-state the findings of a question — or a series of questions — but rather use this as the opportunity to provide your opinions and ideas. Think of the data as a jumping off point for the story you can tell, not the crux of the story.

Example
PwC publishes an annual CEO survey. On its research hub, they have many articles that report on the data from various perspectives.

Articles on other websites

While it makes sense to publish additional blog posts on your own website, don’t stop there. In fact, I’d even argue that you shouldn’t start there.

I was recently telling a client one of the biggest mistakes I made with the CMI research was focusing too much on sharing the stories from our own research on our own platform instead of guest posting on other sites. It was an obvious mistake: while the CMI audience could benefit from digging into the findings, I was missing a huge opportunity to get the story in front of new people.

One of the biggest mistakes I made with original research? Not writing about the research on other platforms. Click To Tweet

And my experience isn’t uncommon.  Both our upcoming research as well as anecdotal conversations with marketers reveal that far fewer write by-lined articles for other websites than they do for their own site.

Example
Agile Sherpa recently published their first annual State of Agile Marketing. Author Andrea Fryrear published detailed results on her blog as well as on Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Insider Group (and I’m guessing other places as well!)

Additional reports

If you plan ahead and have a large enough sample size, you may be able to create multiple reports from one survey. Typical ways to segment include industry (e.g. technology, manufacturing); geography (North America, UK, Australia) and company size (large organizations vs SMB).

Slicing your data for multiple reports can be very effective, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You will need a valid sample size for every segment of data you want to report on.
  • If this is your first time creating multiple reports, create one report as a prototype and release reports on a staggered schedule instead of all at once. I learned this one the hard way.

Example:
CMI has fielded an annual survey since 2010, and they have released more than 50 reports from these 8 surveys. You can see all of them housed on CMI’s research page.

Webinars and presentations

Thinking beyond the written word, you can repurpose your research in webinars and presentations. On the easy end of the spectrum,  you can include stats and graphics in your presentations. Or, consider creating a library for datagraphics that includes a logo of your company as well as a link to your research so people can learn more.

Example:
I love this webinar example from Edison Research and Triton Digital that goes beyond including stats in presentations. They used a webinar to release their research.  They teased some of the findings from an upcoming survey and asked people to join them for a webinar on Facebook to hear the full findings. (You can view the recording.)

Infographics

One very common accompaniment to research is an infographic. This format can work well because infographics are often data-heavy.

Example:
I’m personally not a fan of the loooonnnggg infographics that present one datapoint after another, but I’m drawn to this example from Udemy, which has a mini library of infographics, each focusing on a different finding.

Stand-alone data graphics

Dataviz can be extremely shareable — and it’s easy to post a picture of a chart or graph with a link back to your research. However, all charts aren’t created equal (and, quite frankly, some charts don’t even need to be created). If you are struggling with how to present a certain datapoint, consider this advice from Stephanie Evergreen, which is my guiding light:

“When you get stuck with your graph, keep asking ‘What’s the point?’ If you find you don’t have a point, you probably shouldn’t bother with graphing the data.”

Example:
McKinsey & Company shares datagraphics in their Twitter stream, such as this example below.

Video of high-level findings

Did you know YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google? Because of this, consider  doing a video on your high-level findings so you can expose your research to new people. Of course, include a call to action and make it easy for viewers to access your research.

Example:
PwC published its 21st annual CEO Survey in January. At that time, they also released this short video with their Global Chairman, Bob Moritz, in which he shared his expectations and concerns for the coming year. This video has been viewed over a half of a million times.

Video series digging into findings

If video is your thing, another option is a video series. Videos can be a mix of interviews, roundtables, or stories with stats.

Example:
Edelman recently published their Trust Barometer. Along with the findings, they also released a YouTube playlist with 27 videos that delve into the research.

Online Assessment

Another way to extend the reach of your research and make it more valuable for your audience is to consider an online assessment / quiz. These types of assessments can benchmark where someone is compared to the overall sample — and provide suggestions on what they may want to do next. This is an idea that is gaining ground with several of the clients we talk to. If you are looking to build your email list, require an email address in exchange for someone’s customized findings.

Example:
Clare worked on a research project with Skyword that reported on data from an online assessment. The goal was to learn what high performing content marketers are doing differently. This assessment was also offered as a follow up so marketers could benchmark themselves against the wider group.

Podcasts

Podcasters are often looking for new things to cover, and research is, by its very nature, trendy and new. Once you release your research, you may find podcasters reaching out to you for interviews, which is a generally easy and fun way to share your findings. You can also be more proactive and pitch podcasts. If you aren’t certain how to do this, check out this guide on getting podcast interviews by Tyler Basu.

Example:
CMI’s received many requests for podcast interviews because of our research, such as this interview I did with Lush Digital on their Brand Newsroom podcast.

Twitter chat

This next idea is more niche, but does your company have a Twitter chat? If so, consider using it to discuss the research findings. Even if you don’t have your own Twitter chat, your research can make a great topic on someone else’s chat. Take a look at this list of chats from TweetReports to see if there are any you may want to join or pitch.

Example:
Buffer recently released The State of Remote Work 2018. One of the many things they did to spread the word of the the findings was to focus one of their #BufferChat on this topic. You can read the recap to get some ideas on how to execute this.

Gated guides and eBooks

Undoubtedly, your research will uncover challenges and pain points. And, chances are, your brand will be positioned to help your audience with one or more of these. Is there a guide you can create that explains how to do something respondents reveal as a challenge? This related piece of content can be a gated call to action, which can be a ideal way to convert your research audience into leads or email subscribers.

Example:
Search Engine Journal’s Annual State of Digital Marketing found that marketers struggle to create a content marketing strategy. As such, they created and linked to this guide, What Works in Content Marketing: Case Studies & Tools for Success.

We created this guide on how to document your content marketing strategy because one of the biggest factors between successful content marketers and their less successful peers is the presence of a documented content marketing strategy. This guide has been downloaded thousands of times.

These examples of what type of content to create from your research just scratch the surface of what’s possible. If you want to see more examples of brands doing amazing work with research, or sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

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