Does content need data to generate trust?

Findings from a SurveyMonkey research reveal that content that’s backed up on solid research is more trustworthy. The survey asked a series of questions to 1054 adults in the US.

Around 70% of the survey participants had no qualms in mentioning that content that has data seems more trustworthy than one without.

And a lot of people would rather read data-backed content rather than reading through the writer’s opinion-ed.

The research revealed that 82% of U.S. adults prefer reading a data-backed article rather than one purely based on conjecture.

What’s enlightening is that we as marketers tend to use data to understand content performance. We measure shares, likes, pageviews and bounce rates to determine how engaging the content is.

Based on the data and analysis we plan the next posts. But no one thought that research-backed content with data, graphs or charts would be equally useful at engaging prospects, making it seem trustworthy and so on.

Use data to paint a bigger picture

While data is great simply including some stats isn’t going to cut it. Data should inform visitors of a bigger picture. Paint a bigger story and tie everything together.

It’s easy to fall into the research rabbit hole, quoting one stat after another forgetting the purpose of the blogpost.

Research and data doesn’t have to be cut and dry. The presentation can be made interesting. Here we will explore ways on how to do that. Here’s how to create engaging content backed with data:

Netflix uses data as interactive content

One of the best examples I could provide of a company doing this right is Netflix. It’s inspiring to say the least.

Netflix recently conducted a survey in 29 countries. Do you cheat—was the question.

Contrary to the pictures you just conjured up, the question wasn’t intended to unravel infidelity in married or live-in partners. In fact the intent was to tickle a funny bone. The question asked if one partner cheated on the other, seeing episodes of their favorite shows before their partner did.

Do you know how big Netflix is?

In the third quarter of this year, they boasted a subscriber base of 137 million. Of that around 54 million are from the United States alone.

They got huge number of responses. And like everybody they go have aggregated this into percentages and numbers and posted online. They didn’t do that. Instead they went above and beyond that.

Netflix created an interactive experience out of the data they gleaned with links for others to participate in the survey and get even more data. This made visitors engage with the content and immerse themselves into it fully. The content is hosted at

Earlier, Netflix conducted a survey about how people viewed shows with their pets. They turned this data into an Infographic. It’s possible that witnessing the engagement on the infographic they decided to try an immersive experience and see what happens.

Fivethirtyeight is a site that organizes and lists data from other companies. But from time to time they also put out their own surveys

Is it possible to do this with b2b companies?

Netflix being in the show business, all their surveys and material produced therein revolves around similar topics.

But there’s no reason why you can’t do this in the B2B space.

Even you can get and collate similar data and turn it into a beautiful infographic of sorts or gated content that’d require visitors to sign up before receiving access.

Have a goal with research you conduct. Determine what kind of data you want to find out firsthand.

Spend some time thinking about interesting topics in your business and then proceed to create engaging content based on that.

For instance, how many workers suffer from digital eye syndrome? Or is automation going to affect freelance writing— these are few interesting topics I thought of around this blog.

The step-by-step guide to nailing research

Solving the biggest myth about surveys

When making use of surveys for content marketing some marketers assume that surveys should tell the truth about a given situation.

That’s not true. Surveys aren’t about truth. They’re about perceptions.

Despite collecting feedback from a large number of participants or trying to eliminate all sorts of errors and fine tuning everything you might not get truth from your survey. That’s because we’re are interviewing people. And people are people. Sometimes they willingly lie and at other times they don’t do they’re lying.

Case in point- Big national opinion polls get it wrong, sometimes spectacularly so.

An example that’s still fresh in public memory is Hillary-Trump.

Opinion polls regarding the duo were the worst disaster in the history of politics. I remember reading 10000 word articles citing every reason on why Trump would lose the election. Not only would he lose, the drubbing would be so humiliating that words would fail to describe the situation.

And they were all wrong. Explaining the debacle pollsters opined that— the big 3 reasons were a change in vote preference during final days, failure to account for college graduate votes and many Trump supporters not revealing their true stand until after the election.

Note the last point. It’s not surprising that people tend to hide their true feelings.

Having an opinion also doesn’t imply that they’re going to do what they said they would do.
At other times there would be equal number of supporters for either choice.
There are also instances of false opinions that are ticked to complete the survey and be done with it.

Surveys aren’t a mirror to truth. Instead they’re great at measuring sentiments, getting opinions, habits, desires, frustrations and others. And that’s what they should be used to understand.

It’s a space that can propel people to speak their mind or not. People are unpredictable.

Go for a relevant topic

When running a B2B business choose a topic for survey that’s relevant to your brand. It’s highly unlikely that you cover loads of topics on your blog. As such it’s imperative to remain topical in your survey too. You cannot color outside the lines but you get to choose your own pencils.

Focus on issues and topics that are relevant to your brand and choose one that you’d choose if you were going to write a blogpost about it.

Here’s a quick questionnaire you should ask yourself before conducting the survey:

Is the topic relevant to my core audience?

Does it apply to a lot of people in my audience- is the audience sizeable to get me a sample size of say 1000 respondents?

Will the readers relate to the topic or do they care about it

The result?

An important branding statement. Netflix showed how good they are. The results showed that a large proportion of people cheat and can’t help watching those shows. Shows that are made by Netflix. It’s a value proposition unlike any. Netflix makes shows that are so good that people can’t help themselves. What better marketing could a brand possibly want?

It was picked up by scores of media outlets. They received branding and mentions for free.

The survey you run should tie itself to the product you offer so that casual visitors become targeted leads who purchase, subscribe and engage.

This can later be turned or repurposed into multiple content formats.

Options include:

  • Blog posts and articles
  • E-guides and white papers
  • Infographics and interactive graphics
  • Twitter chats
  • Videos
  • Webinars

Also with time you will be able to find things that motivate your target audience. Work with that.

Make sure that the sample size is big enough for fidelity. At least a thousand. This would also benefit in other ways, attracting links and mentions.

Decide on your goal

After all this trouble both monetarily and in terms of time going over and editing and re-editing content it’d be a shame if you ask nothing of this effort. It’s important that you assign a goal to the work you’re doing.

Few common goals are:

Getting press coverage

Driving boatloads of traffic

Improving brand perception

Brand positioning

Engaging prospects and so on.

Let’s say your goal is to get media coverage. The work should begin way before you put finishing touches to your design.

Make a list of journalists to get in touch with before going live and mail them once you go live to get the most possible coverage.

Andy Crestodina founder of Orbit Media Studios has been publishing Blogging statistics for the past five years. He’s been regularly surveying 1000 bloggers to get enough data points for his survey.

He follows a two fold strategy finding statistics that are rarely based on hard data. For instance bloggers regularly lament about spending a lot of time writing blogposts. But no one has quantitative data. Andy finds that data asking bloggers how long they take to write a blogpost. He then finds the average and arrives at what could be too long.

These statistics attract a lot of links because when bloggers go about writing a post they need some data to back it up. As it gains a few links the piece ranks and gets more traffic bringing more links.

His surveys have been linked to by 1600+ websites and shared 4000+ times. I feel like I’m cheating because it works so well.”

Another prolific creator Mushabar’s sites regularly attract tons of links. For instance his creation— Will Robots Take My Job got around 20000 links from prominent news organizations and a lot of media coverage.

It only has a measly two pages of content.


What do you think of the potential of research-backed content? Are you excited by the prospects?