Content Marketing Research: Dig Into Books, Papers & Videos (Part 2)
Table of contents
In the first part of this guide, we discussed the value of good research.
- Better clients.
- Higher authority.
- Higher paying work.
But with Google’s content update, the stakes — and rewards — just got even higher.
Google upgraded its framework to E-E-A-T:
With a premium on experience and expertise, writers who can incorporate these elements into every piece will never run out of work.
So let’s dig into how you can use widely available internet resources to research and establish expertise and authority. In this guide, we’ll cover
- Research reports
- Youtube videos
When to use each channel:
1. Research reports
Research reports are one of my favorite places to begin my digging. Why? They’re fresh, thorough, and backed by data.
But more than that, they go beyond sharing mere information and share trends, predictions, and analysis.
I’ve also been on the other end of research reports, where I’ve actually written them. That’s how I know that reports from credible sources have a three-step verification process:
- Internal stakeholders review questions.
- External experts share proprietary information.
- Brilliant writers bring together the best pieces.
Sounds fantastic but overwhelming?
Let me show you the exact steps on how to research from a report with an real example.
Step 1: Google ‘State of [Topic]’ or [Topic] Report.
Sometimes, when you’re writing on slightly less popular topics, you can google related words and synonyms to get better results.
For example, I was recently writing a piece on sales forecasting and typed ‘State of Sales Forecasting’ in the search bar. But I couldn’t find too many good results. So I found related words and googled those.
I use Wordtune to do this.
The final result? 3 credible reports with the titles:
- The State of Revenue Forecasting
- State of Sales Research Report
- The Ultimate Sales Analysis Report
Alternatively, use the Data Vault by Marijana Kay to access organized research reports in one place.
Step 2: Read the executive summary line-by-line. This is a section you don’t want to miss because it gives you a summary and tells you where to look in the report. (If you’re lucky, it also gives you links to other credible reports.)
For example, let’s look at this summary from ‘The State of Revenue Forecasting’ by Varicent:
Right away, it gives me another report to add to resources, ‘The Renaissance of Revenue Forecasting’.
It also gives me a trend analysis, a list of what the research studied, and who it’s meant for.
Step 3: Go to the survey information section and see if it applies to your audience and/or industry.
Step 4: Look at the data visuals in isolation. When you don’t look at the data along with the highlighted trends, you can form your own opinions and evaluate critically.
For example, let’s look at this graph on tools used for forecasting.
Here’s how I interrelate data points and build an analysis.
This exercise has told me what else to search for and how to do more research.
In contrast, if I’d only looked at the insights highlighted by the report, here’s what I’d have found:
“Currently, the most popular forecasting tools used are spreadsheets, CRMs, and BI Tools, whereas only 20% use revenue intelligence solutions.”
When researching from reports, it’s important to analyze as much raw data as possible. Use the graphs, but don’t limit yourselves to the highlighted insights.
Step 5: Go through the glossary section if the report has one. Sometimes the same term can mean different things to different people and industries. So make sure you define these for yourself and your readers.
I used reports to write a Klaviyo blog titled: Your Memorial Day email marketing and SMS campaign guide: best practices, themes + 16 templates.
To do this, I created a resources library and noted down important data points from each report to guide my perspective.
Here are the exact reports I used and the data points I dug up (the yellow highlighted text is the notes I make for myself):
In conclusion: if you can find 4-5 thorough reports, you rarely need other research materials to build your argument. Don’t overlook this incredible tool for research.
Pro tip: When using data points from different sources, I use Wordtune to reword the statistics so they are:
- Easier to scan
- Support my argument better.
- Don’t show up unnecessarily on a plagiarism detector
I’d pick the second and third option and combine it for a better reading experience.
My final sentence would be:
Nearly half of global respondents report higher costs but lower incomes.
In a digital world where people update content by the minute?
In a constantly updating world, books that have stood the test of time (and critics) are a resource you should never overlook—especially if you’re writing on an evergreen topic. Here’s why:
- They’re written by experts: books are written by people who have almost a lifetime of expertise in their field. The ideas they put forward are nuanced, credible, and backed by studies.
- They’re thorough: the level of detail you can find in a book can rarely be compared to that of a blog or website pillar page.
- They’re unbiased: Most website content is written from the point of view of a product or a service. Not books. Their sole purpose is the inform and educate.
- They’re credible: They can be a good source for supporting evidence and citations in your blog post, as they are considered more credible.
- They can provide context: Books often provide historical context and background information on a topic, which can help you better comprehend the current state of the field or topic you are writing about.
But how exactly do you research through a book? Where do you look for anecdotes, examples, or case studies?
Let me show you.
Step 1: Read the author’s note or preface.
This tells you the author's intent behind writing the book and upgrades to the recent edition.
Step 2: Go through the table of contents to understand the structure of the book, and pinpoint where the most relevant information is.
For example, I was recently writing a piece on how to write great content, so I began reading the highly recommended book “Paid Attention” by Faris Yakob.
Right away from the table of contents, I identified the chapters that would be the most useful for me:
- 06: Do things, tell people: How to behave in a world of infinite content
- 08: Combination Tools: How to Have Ideas: a genius steals process
- 10: Interactive Strategy and Social Brands: Be nice or Leave
Step 3: Dig into the specifics and remember to take notes. To save time, simultaneously add notes to your content piece outline.
(Psst! I shared my note-taking methods in detail here: How to Take Notes from a Textbook)
Pro tip: Look for case studies, researches, and visuals to complement your outline.
For example, here’s my outline for “How to Create Killer Blog Content” and the notes from Paid Attention.
Note: To make my outline easier to understand, I’ve removed all content other than my notes from Paid Attention.
I make it a point to paraphrase whenever I paste content into my outline from other sources. This is so I can avoid even accidental plagiarism, and truly understand what I’m writing.
Excerpt from Paid Attention:
In a world where mainstream media is increasingly supplemented by the media of the masses, one of the leverage points for creativity is earning attention, beyond that which has been paid for. This means that, as with art, part of the business of advertising is fame, at least among the desired customer base.
I picked option no.1 because it's the most straightforward and puts the main idea first.
Step 4: Once I’ve finished fleshing out the outline with ideas from the book, I check out the “Further readings” and “References” sections. This tells me where to look if I need more detail.
For example, here are the references from Paid Attention which I’m using as next steps in my research journey.
Similarly, you can use the “Further Readings” section to extend your research.
Pro tip: When I don’t have the time to buy a book, I download kindle samples. The author’s note works as a wonderful summary of the concepts and often talks about how the idea came into being.
3. Youtube Videos
I use Youtube videos when I’m researching highly complex but popular topics. The visual format helps me better understand concepts.
Here are 4 reasons you should use Youtube for research:
- Finding expert opinions: Many experts and professionals post videos on YouTube discussing their fields of expertise, which can provide valuable insights and information for a blog post.
- Gaining a deeper understanding of a topic: YouTube videos can offer more in-depth explanations and demonstrations of topics, which can help you gain a better understanding of the subject matter.
- Visual aids: Incorporating videos or images from YouTube into your blog can help to illustrate your points and make your blog more visually appealing to readers.
- Providing examples: YouTube videos can be used to provide examples or case studies that can help to illustrate your points and make your blog more relatable to readers.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use Youtube for research.
Let’s say you’re writing a piece on “How to have healthier relationships”
Step 1: Search your topic and filter the results by engagement, number of views, or creators.
Pro tip: If you type in “how to have a healthy”, youtube will offer it’s most-searched for keywords as autocomplete suggestions.
Step 2: Shortlist 8-10 videos to watch and download them. (This is crucial because Youtube is a vast web of information and you will go down unnecessary rabbit holes.)
Step 3: While watching the videos, take notes and screenshot any visuals you find interesting.
Pro tip: If you find any brilliant ideas in Youtube videos that you’d really like to share with your audience, here’s how to do it without getting overwhelmed by the challenge of summarizing.
Go to the bottom right corner of the Youtube video and click on “Show Transcript”.
Once you’ve generated the transcript, copy-paste the text into a Google Doc and organize it into legible sentences and paragraphs.
Here’s what that looks like:
Now, use Wortune to summarize and rephrase the ideas.
This is the final version which I’ve co-written with Wordtune.
Step 4: Once you’ve understood and thoroughly absorbed the subject matter, go back to Youtube and study the comments for frequently asked questions and common contradictions.
Again, you can use these to construct arguments around your topic.
For example, here are some insightful comments I found under the video “Which Long-term Relationships Will Survive and Which Won't” by The School of Life and how I intend to use them in my article.
A final note
Like I said in Part 1 of this guide, research is complex and no one strategy can tell you what to do each time.
What you can do before you start research, however, is figure out the kind of piece you’re writing and and make a targeted, strategic research path (using the chart in our guides.)
For example, if I were writing an authoritative piece on marketing trends, I’d combine research reports, one-on-one interviews with thought leaders, and industry events. On the other hand, if I were writing a piece on ways to accessorize during winters, I’d combine Youtube, social media channels, and customer reviews.