28 Indispensable Research Reports and Marketing Case Studies for Small Biz Strategy

By Tatiana Liubarets | Small Business

28 Indispensable Research Reports and Marketing Case Studies for Small Biz Strategy image reaching the mountaing top28 Indispensable Research Reports and Marketing Case Studies for Small Biz StrategyContent marketers need to be empathetic, detail-oriented, and tech-savvy. However, agility may be the most important attribute of all. As HubSpot’s Corey Eridon points out, nimbleness is a state of mind, which requires being able to quickly adapt to new changes and trends. You simply can’t lead a winning content marketing strategy if you’re playing by the old rules of SEO, or blogging to the wrong buyer persona.

Ongoing education is critical, which is why we’ve compiled 28 of the brightest and most-inspiring research reports and case studies to hit the web in the recent months. Make it a point to read one of these amazing – and free – resources each day for the next 3 weeks. Trust us, you’ll be unstoppable:

Research Reports

1. Content Marketing Institute: 2013 Must-Know Trends and Benchmarks

Did you know that small businesses are actually winning when it comes to adoption of content marketing? The latest research from Content Marketing Institute has found that small companies allocate 31% of their marketing budget to content, as opposed to only 24% at enterprises. CMI’s small business report cuts to the chase to examine how marketers are using platforms and creating content.

2. Organizing for Content Marketing

The 70+ interviews which serve as the backbone of Altimeter Group’s ongoing research on how enterprises approach the strategic and tactical side of content marketing have a lot to offer SMB CEOs and marketers. You may not have the budget to hire an entire “content center of excellence” or editorial board, but you can certainly learn from their suggested system of checks and balances.

3. 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report

HubSpot’s annual survey of marketers doesn’t solely focus on content, but its insights are too rich to ignore. The data from over 3,300 marketing professionals includes plenty of research specific to small business, as well as a comprehensive look at how content marketing strategy should mesh with the rest of your outreach.

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Image credit: Kromkrathog/

4. IBM Global CMO Study

IBM’s hot-of-the-press annual report includes data mined from 1,700+ CMOs worldwide, and some extra-special analysis on exactly why some marketers are more successful than others. Their findings indicate that sensitivity toward customer feedback matter far more than your company’s budget.

5. 2013 State of Content Marketing

CopyPress’ interview of 329 content marketers is among the most spot-on studies we’ve seen hit the shelves in recent months. They didn’t shy away from asking the tough questions, like whether companies are willing to pay for expert authorship, or if marketers are actually embracing video. If you read this report between the lines, there’s plenty of tips to help you pull ahead of your competitors.

6. B2B Marketing Trends Survey 2012 Report

Curata’s annual survey of how B2B marketers approach content marketing strategy is a tactical goldmine. While the survey naturally includes a deep look at how companies are approaching content curation, there’s plenty of other insights that make it well worth any B2B or B2C marketer’s time.

7. The New Multi-Screen World: Understanding Cross-Platform Consumer Behavior

Marketing may be changing, but the landscape of consumer behavior is possibly changing even faster. Google’s survey of how people interface with technology, compiled with the help of research powerhouses Ipsos and Sterling, has the potential to completely revolutionize the way you create content for a very distracted consumer base.

8. Connecting the Dots Between Content and Sales

Your boss really wants you to read this report. We’re joking, of course, but IDG Enterprise’s report is among the best researches on how content marketing should fit into the sales cycle, and what you can do to write for the right consumer.

Case Studies

9. Target Case Study

Servio, the copywriting team behind Target’s witty product descriptions, was faced with the not-small task of transitioning tens of thousands of products onto a new platform. The experts estimated the project would take 9 months, but Servio delivered in just 3. While Target is not a small business, this marketing case study offers some seriously bright lessons in adopting smart technology.

10. Dive Rite Case Study

In many ways, Dive Rite was the quintessential small business. With 18 employees and a single marketer on staff, the brand was facing the need to sell diving equipment with a broken website to a tech-savvy buyer persona, as well as the challenge of building a content strategy from the ground up. Not to give any spoilers, but they succeeded brilliantly with limited resources, and offer real insight into why.

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Image credit: Pakorn/

11. McGladrey’s 4-Step Process Increases Content Production 300%, Web Traffic 100%

Measurement and analysis is a way of doing business for McGladreys, a global accounting and tax consulting firm with over 7,000 employees. The company was creating custom marketing materials, but they lacked a comprehensive content strategy. The steps the company ultimately took weren’t especially unique, including defining goals and redesigning their website to provide better access to content, but they were incredibly effective.

12. Combining Email and Content Marketing Leads to 35% Conversion Rate for Elsevier

It’s easy to objectively see the value of combining your company’s sales and marketing silos into a comprehensive outreach program, but technical publisher Elsevier’s incredible success could certainly provide a boost to your motivation. Read this content marketing case study to learn the steps the company took to integrate, as well as specific tactics to improve their email metrics.

13. Going Micro for a Macro Idea

While PTC, a software company with over 5,000 companies, wasn’t exactly small, they faced a number of challenges all too familiar to SMB CEOs. They were trying to debut an innovative product in a crowded and clunky market, and had to build website authority for a micro-site. Perhaps most overwhelmingly, the team had one month to launch the site and associated content assets. PTC’s story is a triumph of lean principles, which can boost any small business.

14. How to Launch a Killer Content Marketing Campaign in a Few Months

Eloqua may be one of the largest and best-known companies in the marketing automation space, but they don’t have it especially easy. For starters, it’s hard to pick a single industry where major brands create more content. Eloqua needed to stand out against a whole lot of noise, and the way they succeeded was increasing employee contributions, and management buy-in.

15. Prudential Content Marketing Case Study

A content marketing video case study? Why not, particularly if the insights are as fresh as this example from major real estate player Prudential. In this taped session from the FinanceConnect13 conference, major marketing players delve into just how Prudential applies their customer insights. The need to efficiently apply customer feedback is a challenge for companies of any size, and this video could help you win.

16. Overall Content Marketing Strategy Leads to 2,000% Lift in Blog Traffic, 40% Boost in Revenue.

40% boost in revenue is no typo, and it’s the growth that Distribion experienced after refining their content marketing strategy. A marketing automation company which focuses on highly-regulated industries, this marketing case study includes particular insight on how the company leveraged strategic partners to create more content, and set goals.

17. Case Study: How Content Marketing Saved this Brick-and-Mortar Business

Most marketers are at least a little familiar with the story of Marcus Sheridan, the struggling owner of a swimming pool business turned content marketing evangelist. Few know that content creation actually turned around his business at one of the worst times for his industry, the peak of the recession in 2008 when few consumers had the cash to invest in an in-ground pool. Sheridan is always inspiring, and in this interview, gives more than a few secrets away.

18. Targeted Persona Strategy Lifts Leads 124%

There wasn’t anything wrong with SkyTap’s content. However, it wasn’t outstanding, and by heavily investing in buyer persona research and content targeting over a period of 12-18 months, the company increased their metrics an astounding degree. This is among the best resources for effective content targeting we’ve ever encountered.

19. iDirect Lands New Business Through Content Marketing

If you think your company’s focus is too niche for a wildly successful content marketing strategy, this content marketing case study is for you. iDirect focuses on providing high-speed internet connectivity to maritime vessels. Talk about a niche market! If they can succeed at building an audience, so can you.

20. US Waterproofing Case Study: Insourcing Gets Results

Whether you’re outsourcing, insourcing, or somewhere in the middle, you can’t help but get inspired by US Waterproofing’s story. The company successfully got all of their 50+ employees to buy in to content marketing, and share exactly how.

21. Website Traffic Doubles through First Quarter of ‘Live’ Content Marketing Case Study

Get this: Essential Marketer, a British SEO Agency, set out to create a content marketing case study. They developed 200 high-quality articles around keywords over 50 days, and measured the results. The results were staggering across the board, and any content marketing strategy can learn from their gutsiness.

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Image credit: Andreas / Flickr

22. Block Imaging Case Study

This content marketing case study by Marcus Sheridan isn’t the longest, but it’s effective and showcases one of the brightest ideas we’ve come across for creating content. Block Imaging CEO Krista Kotrla successfully pulled off a two-day retreat centered on content marketing. You might not be able to take your employees away for a weekend to learn blogging, but you can learn from Block Imaging’s crash course.

23. Yale Appliance: A Stagnant Blog Explodes

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut if you’re at the helm of a moderately successful content marketing strategy, as experienced by Yale Appliance. Despite the fact they were receiving 200-500 views on their average blog post, they successfully reset their blog, and saved over $500,000 on marketing in the process. Regardless of your success to date, you can learn from Yale’s agility.

24. Content Marketing Consistency Wins Long-Term Results

We’ve all heard the saying that content marketing strategy is a marathon, not a sprint. However, given the meteoric growth in the field over the past few years, companies that win often have mastered the art of sprinting a marathon. ShoreTel Sky realized to stand out in the rapidly growing cloud-based phone systems space, they needed to publish more than their in-house content creators can handle. This case study is a brilliant lesson for companies hoping to successfully use a combination of insourcing and outsourcing.

25. How to Get Millions of Page Views About Your Content Marketing Strategy

Minneosota’s professional football team, The Vikings, faced a unique challenge in 2009. There was tons of content being created about their team, particularly during game season, but they wanted to become a one-stop shop. They ultimately won through careful metrics analysis, creating a boatload of content, and providing up-close-and-personal access to their star players. While you might not have the budget to blog 10 times daily, their aggressive and measured approach can help any business win.

26. How RedBull’s Content Strategy Got Its Wings

RedBull has always been an early adopter. They launched their energy drinks in 1987, when many people were still warming up to Espresso, and began their content marketing strategy in 2007. There’s no question they’ve won, and their team of 400 content creators produce some of the most compelling branded content on the web. Their cult of brand personality is perhaps the most compelling thing about their media, and any company can take a page from their customer-focused content.

27. Growing Receivables and Improving Profit Margins

There’s nothing more inspiring than a company that successfully leverages content marketing to beat external factors. That’s definitely the case with this story, about a major credit card processor who was struggling against a 23% decline in credit card use during the recession of 2008. If you’re curious whether content marketing is stronger than consumer trends, take this marketing case study as evidence that creating custom content can cure almost anything.

28. Wow, 200% More Leads in a Year!

Everyone has to start somewhere, and that was certainly the case for Reynolds Training Services, who offer courses on working with petroleum. Their website wasn’t generating any leads, but an aggressive keyword strategy and article marketing landed them 190 contacts just 8 months later. It’s well worth the read, especially for its honest look at the realities of SEO.

Consumption of research reports and case studies could be the difference between a sufficient content marketing strategy, and an outstanding plan for web domination. Continuing education has always been important, but it’s never mattered more than in the midst of the content arms race.

What are your favorite types of educational materials on content marketing strategy? Are there any outstanding resources that didn’t make this list?

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