Content marketing can be bland without original insight and commentary. Research provides that originality. But it has to be valid research or you risk losing your authority.
So how do you check your research is valid? I’ve been carrying out market research for more years than I care to remember. Fortunately, there is a formula you can use to achieve valid research.
The Rule of 100 (Schmid, 1995) states if you get 100 responses to a survey, the ranking of answers will remain the same whether you get an additional 1,000 or 10,000 responses. The percentage difference between the first and second placed answer may change, but the top answers will remain the top answers.
I was initially sceptical of the Rule of 100, but I have seen so many examples where it is true that I now have to accept it has a place in market research.
The caveat is that questions must be simple, the number of answers limited to less than 10 and that you will need 100 answers for each segment of your audience. So if you are going to use the Rule of 100 think carefully about your questions and answers, and be clear about whether you are going to analyse the answers in smaller segments (e.g. if you get 100 respondents and then decide to segment by male and female it will not work. You need to get 100 males respondents and 100 female).
You should also accept that if there is just one percentage point difference between first and second place, then those positions could be easily reversed.
The Rule of 100 is useful in market research because sometimes it’s extremely difficult to get more than 100 answers from small, niche audiences.
If you are still not convinced, I have some evidence.
Television commercials in the UK are governed by some of the strictest rules in the world – if you are going to make a claim for your product you need to prove it. All adverts on UK television have to be approved by Clearcast before they are broadcast.
Many commercials for beauty products make claims that are supported by research, particularly products aimed at UK females. There are currently 26m* female adults in the UK, so how many did Head & Shoulders or Olay need to survey for their TV advert to be approved and broadcast? Click the screenshots below and check the text at the bottom of the adverts.
The answer is just 100. So it seems Clearcast are happy that a sample of 100 adults can represent the views of 26 million women.
Now you know the ingredients for valid research, why should you bother?
The new GDPR law means marketing consent (opt-in) will become more valuable unless you have a strong case for a legitimate interest. You can persuade prospects to give you consent if you have content they want to digest. But that content needs to be original, valuable and teach them something they don’t already know.
As B2B marketers battle in the ‘content wars’ for attention, you can rise above the noise by delivering useful and valid research. In addition, commenting on the results positions you as an authority.
* Source: Office for National Statistics, 2017
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