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5 questions about branded original research white papers

Ever heard of branded original research?

It’s an up-and-coming type of content marketing. 

To create it, a brand surveys their audience to develop content for prospective customers.

And, unlike some space trip to Mars, it’s not far-fetched fiction.

Branded original research is a hot format that’s becoming increasingly popular for marketing managers across industries.

What if you could help your clients write something like that… something that gets referenced in other company’s white papers? 

In a survey of more than 1,000 people by SurveyMonkey, 75% of adults said content with data is more trustworthy, and 73% said content with data is more persuasive. 

So data can build trust and persuade prospects. Isn’t that the whole point of a white paper?

Branded original research is timely

There’s a very timely reason why more companies, marketers, and writers are interested in branded original research.

As marketing managers and writers try to stand out in a crowded marketplace of things to read, we’re all under enormous pressure to generate original content.

And there’s nothing more original than quantifiable, unique-to-one-company insights about a topic that fascinates their customers.

You probably have some questions about doing this type of white paper. 

Here are the answers to five common questions about branded original content.

Question #1: What is a branded original research white paper?

It’s a survey or research project that is branded to a particular company.

This may sound new, but it’s really not. Companies have been sponsoring research for decades.

But there’s been a spike in popularity for this kind of informal, conversation-starting surveys in the B2B space. That’s because this type of content is such a good way to connect with B2B buyers.

And it’s powerful. In fact, 74% of B2B buyers consider original research an influential piece of their decision-making process. That makes this second only to  recommendations from a peer.

Question #2: What’s it mean to do original research for a company?

For starters, we’re not talking about customer polling or focus groups.

That’s a whole different kind of research, and it’s typically performed by data scientists or customer experience experts who know how to run a scientific experiment. 

Branded original research is more focused on providing editorial value to marketing or sales enablement content.

That is, speaking to topics that interest prospective customers and providing unique insights or thought leadership to explain the results.

A branded original research project might include as few as five or as many as 20 questions. And those might go to a panel of 100 to 1,000 or more people such as customers, prospects, industry experts, and more. 

When it comes to identifying a panel of people to survey, many survey services available today can help.

For both capturing the survey results and securing a paid panel, we recommend SurveyMonkey Audience, Qualtrics, and SurveyGizmo.

For just a survey tool, we recommend Typeform, Google Forms, or even the built-in survey tools within your email marketing platform.  

When the results are all tabulated and analyzed, they typically inspire an interesting “conversation” in the form of a white paper. 


Question #3: Why should brands do branded original research?

The most important reason why any company should do a branded original research project is to help them stand out in a sea of content. 

After all, more than 2 million articles are published online every day.

Competing for attention can feel like an insurmountable to-do.

But an original survey—published with a non-promotional, editorial voice—is just the thing to capture the attention of prospective customers. 

Any brand that completes a project like this is sharing information that literally no one else can share. 

Branded original research projects can also help brands connect more deeply with their customers.

Since the company gets to ask the questions, they can find out what trends are on their customer’s minds, what their customer’s priorities are, and more.

They can package that information along with expert opinion on how to solve those problems, showing customers how they could support them as a partner who cares about what they care about. 

Question #4: How much will a branded original research white paper cost?

As always, the pricing for any white paper project depends on the industry, the writer’s experience level, and the size of the project.

In general, a branded original research project will include three or four fees that scale up with the the size of the survey:

  • to brainstorm and implement the survey ($1,500+)
  • to secure a panel of people to survey ($1,000+)
  • to write the white paper ($3,500+)
  • to design the white paper ($1,500+)

So that’s $7,500+ for this type of white paper.

For that fee, a company will get something no one else has, something that could well generate a lot of mentions and shares. 

Question #5: What should you do after you launch a branded original research white paper?

Another thing that makes a branded original research white paper such a good investment is that companies can reuse it in countless ways.

You end up generating so much valuable information that you can use and re-use that content for many other projects. 



While planning this kind of project, make sure you plan to repurpose the information you uncover like you would any white paper, with a few notable additions.

Here are a few suggestions for repurposing you can pitch to your client: 

  • Preview or executive summary article based on findings
  • Infographic for a series of statistics
  • Social media images featuring different statistics
  • Introduction for an e-mail sequence
  • Pitching PR coverage

Question #6: Where can you go to learn more about writing this type of white paper?

Branded original research white paper projects are a relatively new addition to most company’s content marketing toolkit. 

But there are a number of expert resources you can use to learn more about these kinds of projects.

Visit Mantis Research to download their comprehensive guide, Ultimate Guide: How to Publish Survey-Based Research for Content Marketing

Or read through the Content Marketing Institute’s original research archives for posts on how to avoid beginner mistakes. 

And here’s a good example of a B2B white paper based on original research:


This survey-based report from CultureIQ does two things:

  • Puts a finger on the pulse of the HR tech company’s target audience
  • Starts a conversation around the results

The white paper also follows an excellent piece of communication advice: Show, don’t tell. This unique approach proves the company’s authority and expertise.

White paper + original data = even more effective

For many years, white papers have been a valuable form of content.

And when you add the insight of exclusive data, a white paper becomes an even more effective tool that companies can use to build their businesses and sell their products.

As more B2B marketers become interested in sponsoring their own branded research projects, learning more about this white paper style will help you grow your business, too.


Have you ever done a branded original content white paper? Do you have any further tips you can share? Please leave your comments below.

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About Sarah Greesonbach

Sarah Greesonbach, a freelance B2B writer, has written hundreds of B2B projects. She's also founder of the B2BWriting, which provides information and instruction for in-house, agency, and freelance B2B writers. B2BWI’s mission is to make the industry accessible to anyone as well as helping B2B writers continue to improve their craft.

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  1. Timothy W on February 1, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Always great information thanks,


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