6 Essential Research Studies That Marketers Shouldn’t Miss

The vast amounts of data available to marketers today has enabled them to understand their users better. It’s allows marketers to dissect patterns in users’ consumption, and has aids in crafting marketing copy for multi-million dollar campaigns that result in billions of dollars in sales.

A large part of the data that marketers tap into is readily available to most businesses. Data from their own websites, social media, email marketing, and PPC campaigns are all just a click away, offering marketers a world of information to help in designing marketing campaigns from scratch.

However, besides data about your own business, there’s another kind of data that is a necessity for every marketer worth his salt. And that is, industry research data.

There are lots of in-depth reports available that tell you where the marketing industry as a whole is headed. These research reports hold up a mirror to marketers, and help them benchmark their own businesses against competition. However, there are a few reports that are more vitally important than others. Which ones are these? Here are the top six critical reports every marketer should be aware of. 

1. Ad Age Marketing Fact Pack (Annual)

Advertising Age’s Marketing Fact Pact is compulsory reading for all marketers, regardless of their experience level, areas of specialization, or span of authority.

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What It Offers:

The study is a massive compilation of the moves made by the marketing industry. The wealth of information available inside these reports is unparalleled – from annual advertising budgets of the top brands in the world, to the changes in media consumption habits of target audiences and predictions about changing consumer behavior.

2. Moz Search Ranking Factors (Every Two Years)

The touchstone for SEO practitioners worldwide, this reports on the secret ingredients that are responsible for Google’s search rankings and is published once every two years.

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The first report was published in 2009, and every new edition of the report readjusts itself to accommodate the algorithm changes made by Google in the preceding two years.

What It Offers:

The Moz Search Ranking Factors report is the closest SEO practitioners get to deciphering Google’s impenetrable search algorithm. The report tells you which specific areas to focus on to improve the quantity and quality of traffic to your website.

This year’s report lists over 90 on-page and off-page factors that directly or indirectly impact website rankings. It not only gives you the relative importance of these factors, it also tells you what you’re doing with your website that is hurting its search rankings with an explanation for negative ranking factors.

3. HubSpot’s State of Inbound (Annual)

HubSpot is credited with coining the term “inbound marketing” and inspiring an entire industry dedicated to attracting target audiences to a business organically – nurturing them into paying customers using various marketing tools. This annual report takes into account the impact of inbound marketing activities. It not only assesses the marketing discipline, but also looks at other industry factions that benefit from inbound practices, like sales and customer service.

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What It Offers:

This report tells you the changes that have taken place in the inbound marketing space in 2014 and 2015. Based on surveys of over 2,000 marketing and sales professionals, the report tells you which new star traffic sources are for inbound marketers in various parts of the world. This includes information about which tools perform best in which geographies and with what type of customers. More than anything else, this report is your best bet to make a case for higher budget allocations towards inbound marketing.

4. Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Industry Report (Annual)

Social media is one of those specializations that everyone thinks they are an expert on. Trouble is, the truth is usually very far from these assumptions.

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Social Media Examiner’s annual survey of the social media marketing industry is proof that there is a huge amount of science that goes into social media – science that you’d be better off knowing.

What It Offers:

This comprehensive study on the social media industry is a great guideline to plan and manage your own social media program. It tells you the number of hours leading social media experts devote to their brands, what kind of budgets do social media programs receive, what platforms suit which consumer types, and so on.

The report also helps you understand what lies ahead for social media. It answers questions about how social media marketing will change through the year, what new ways marketers are responding to shifting consumer preferences on social media, and more.

5. The Direct Marketing Association’s National Client Email Report (Annual)

Email marketing is perhaps the oldest digital marketing tool that still maintains its relevance today in the face of stiff competition from more new-fangled marketing methods.

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The U.K. based Direct Marketing Association publishes its annual report on how this stalwart medium is still relevant and bringing in incredible ROI to marketers’ year-over-year.

What It Offers:

To begin with, the report puts the relevance of email marketing in context of today’s marketing environment. It proves the importance of email marketing by quoting actual ROI figures from client campaigns. Also, this report showcases the various types of email campaigns possible and their respective performance, and offers ideas on crafting a high performing email marketing program.

6. Merkle RKG Digital Marketing Report (Quarterly)

Paid digital advertising has grown from plain Jane search and display ads, to include a wide variety of ad formats like: PPC search ads, programmatic display ads, retargeted display ads, social media ads, Google Product Listing ads, native ads, mobile ads, in-app ads, and more.

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The Merkle RKG Quarterly Report on paid digital advertising is a ready reckoner for performance marketers to know where they stand with respect to industry standards.

What It Offers:

The report drills down into the smallest changes in the paid digital marketing space. From offering insights into changes made by publishers and ad platforms, to showcasing benchmark performance figures for each type of advertising – the Merkle RKG report covers all its bases. It even ventures into crystal ball gazing by offering its two bits on what to expect in the next quarter and how to deal with these forecasted changes.

In Conclusion

As a rule, I make it a point to keep these handful of reports close at hand when I’m at work. You never know when some specific insight from these reports will help illuminate a murky, tough situation.

As statistician Edwards Deming famously said, “In God we trust. Everyone else must bring data.”

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