October 3, 2019
Research Reports are Valuable — if You Can Find Them
Most CMOs, in-house counsel and C-suite officers agree they want research reports that are educational, indepth and relevant. But actually finding those reports can prove surprisingly challenging.
For instance, while 68 percent of CMOs, 64 percent of C-suite executives and 51 percent of in-house counsel say they appreciate that research reports are “educational,” only 9 percent of the C-suite and 19 percent of in-house counsel identify the attribute “easy to access” as one that intuitively appeals when it comes to research reports.
What makes these valuable sources of information so difficult to find? The disconnect likely stems from how research reports are typically disseminated — and suggests that, instead of depending on readers to find the reports on a firm website or microsite, marketers should employ a mix of targeted earned and owned content (leaning heavily on interactive charts — which are especially appealing to C-suite members). Trade publication websites, websites from outside professional service providers and vendors, and podcasts represent three potential areas of opportunity.
Approximately three-fourths of both in-house counsel and C-suite officers highly value trade publications — both online and in print — that cover industry news, with a significant majority visiting these publications at least weekly. CMOs nearly unanimously (95 percent) agree that trade publications are a valuable marketing source. Strategic placement of select research findings in these publications — cited and hyperlinked in staff-written, bylined or sponsored articles, for example — provides an impactful, coordinated marketing opportunity.
Both C-suite executives (67 percent) and in-house counsel (63 percent) also consider professional service provider websites a high-value source for news and information — and research reports offer these providers a means of refreshing their website content. The key, however, is to draw targeted audiences to where a particular report lives on the site. One way to achieve this would be to use social media to promote select findings — via infographics or teasers, for example — replete with links to the full report.
Podcasts again made gains in 2019 among both C-suite executives and in-house counsel as a preferred content source. So marketers should seriously consider developing podcasts around select reports. A growing number of other professional service providers are already doing this, to great — and even award-winning — effect. Though some might think podcasts an unlikely medium for in-depth research, our survey found that nearly 70 percent of C-suite officers perceive them as “educational” — suggesting that this segment welcomes receiving research through this medium.
Beyond distribution, research reports face challenges related to timing: Both in-house counsel (60 percent) and C-suite officers (57 percent) place high value on content that is current. Interactive charts likely appeal to C-suite members in part because the reader often feels like this reporting is especially dynamic. Lengthier research reports, while providing the in-depth information that both survey groups may value, could be months or even years in the making. Upon publishing, the information may be — or appear to be — of little use to decision-makers.
As Isaac Rogers of 20/20 Research says, “Research providers might publish a year-end review, but I need something timely. They do good work, but by the time major publications are out, I already know what is covered in the report.”
Shorter, more frequent research reports provide a solution. And strategic distribution of timely, actionable content through diverse channels will help meet the goals and preferences of the C-suite, in-house counsel and CMOs alike.
A version of this article appeared in the 2019 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey, released in July 2019.