Greentarget has produced the State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey for nearly a decade, and each year, we look for new ways to make the data actionable. One of the best ways to do that with complex data is to visualize it, and this year we explored multiple visualization techniques to wring insight from the survey.
Enter spider charts.
If you’ve read my Greentarget bio you know that I’m a huge fantasy football nerd, which is where I first encountered these visual aids. Also called radar charts, they are commonly used to compare NFL prospects in the lead-up to the draft; the endpoints of the web represent athletic measurables, such as performance in different kinds of drills, height and weight.
How is this applicable to our survey results? For the first time, we asked respondents to select the attributes they most valued for different types of content – which enabled us to draw out some great insights by using spider charts. Here are a few examples:
Articles versus Newsletters
Trends in the data show that respondents favor text over visuals, and generally value brevity. In the comparison above, user preferences for these two content types are clear, including a higher threshold for brevity in newsletters. From this data we can infer some basic guidelines for newsletters, such as using bulleted lists or short blurbs with links to longer-form content. The data also suggests that it’s better to err on the side of “more curated” versus “more inclusive” when determining which or how many stories to blurb.
Alerts versus Newsletters
Comparing alerts and newsletters has interesting implications for content production. Users’ overwhelming preference is that alerts are timely and brief; though you might publish a newsletter on a biweekly or monthly cadence, alerts have a much shorter shelf life and should be published as often and as quickly as possible. Note also that alerts and newsletters share the most similar shape across all of the content types; if you produce both, it may be worth comparing the relative interaction rates and focusing effort on the vehicle that gets the most traction among your users.
In-Person versus Podcasts
User preference for these two content types runs along very similar axes, as they share the same basic shape. Users rated in-person presentations as one of the most important content types, but anyone who’s ever presented at a large industry event knows they require significant effort. While the effort to launch a podcast is front-loaded, production becomes routine and streamlined over time. That means a strong podcast with a regular cadence can have similar benefits to in-person content but with a lower barrier of entry. Additionally, podcasts are inherently trackable, and easily accessible performance metrics allow you to determine which material resonates most.
In-Person versus Research Reports
Here we find an interesting paradox: According to survey respondents, research reports’ value is derived from depth and detail more than any other content type, yet they consider other content to be more educational. This could stem from a difference in usage: Attorneys are more likely to turn to research reports for highly detailed information within their areas of knowledge, while a conference setting with presentations across a range of topics is more likely to provide information on unfamiliar topics. It’s also possible that combining these two content types – where research findings are at the heart of a strong in-person event – can lead to the best of both worlds.
An earlier version of this post appeared in the 2018 State of Digital and Content Marketing Survey, available here.
A digital native, John Matthew “JM” drives the creative application of data and digital techniques within Greentarget’s public relations practice.
Obsessed with science fiction and fantasy football, when JM’s face isn’t stuck in a book or glued to the latest NFL player evaluations he’s most likely searching for new culinary experiences in Chicago.