You might be surprised by how much your B2B marketing strategy relies on knowing your audience.
Even if you’ve already identified your ideal buyer persona, you might be leaving different segments on the table. It's always possible to optimize your B2B customer journey too.
In our current landscape, customer data is easily accessible (especially through market research).
So when it comes to knowing your audience, there should be no reason for you not to know them better than they know themselves.
Especially since most B2B customers respond much better to a personalized experience. You’ll want to specifically tailor your funnel, content, and more to the audience you’re targeting.
B2B Audience Research is Exactly What It Sounds Like
B2B audience research is as straightforward as it sounds: gaining insights into what drives customers and what their needs are.
Primary components of B2B audience research include:
- Data Gathering: Collecting information on potential clients' needs, preferences, and behaviors.
- Analysis: Interpreting the data to help shape business strategies.
- Application: Utilizing the findings to tailor products, services, and marketing efforts to other businesses.
The typical approach to this research combines both qualitative (interviews, focus groups) and quantitative methods (surveys, statistical analysis) for a comprehensive understanding.
The Difference You Should Know Between B2C and B2B Research
The focus on businesses as customers distinguishes B2B audience research from consumer-focused research.
Businesses in the B2B space need to be aware of the different motivations, purchasing processes, and criteria for decision-making compared to individual consumers.
That’s why so many research methodologies and techniques are fine-tuned to address complex org structures.
I recommend reading our blog post, Why B2B Market Research is Different, but in the meantime below we showcase specific components of how B2B and B2C audiences are different.
In B2C research, the buyer's journey is often shorter, with individuals making decisions based primarily on personal desire or need and is heavily influenced by emotions.
That’s not to say B2B transactions don’t have any emotion involved - but in our experience, they are involved much less.
Instead, B2B research focuses on a longer sales cycle where multiple touchpoints and longer consideration periods are common. The journey is more rational and driven by the business value, with a focus on return on investment (ROI) and long-term relationships.
For B2C purchases, the decision maker is typically a single individual who decides to buy a product based on personal preference or need.
However, B2B research must account for a group of decision-makers.
This could include end users, purchasing managers, or finance teams, each with their various roles and influence on the purchase decision. Everything in your funnel should account for these differences.
Needs vs Nice To Haves
B2C research might categorize products or features as 'nice to have' if they appeal to individual desires without being strictly necessary.
Contrastingly, B2B research clearly distinguishes between 'needs', which are critical business requirements, and 'nice to haves', which are additional features that may enhance efficiency or productivity but are not deal breakers.
B2B buying decisions are often needs-driven to solve specific problems rather than based on want. You want to be able to determine what truly is a “need” and a “nice-to-have” in your audience segments.
How to Make Your Research Customer-Oriented
Take Notes From Your Current Audience
Ideally, companies should regularly examine feedback and patterns within their existing customers.
This includes analyzing customer interactions like support tickets, product reviews/feedback, and product usage data. Or going one step further and conducting customer satisfaction surveys.
Insights from current customers are invaluable for tailoring products and services to better meet market demands.
Gather Info From Your Sales Process
The sales process is a rich source of information. Companies ought to track and scrutinize every stage—from initial contact to closing the deal.
Even when a deal isn’t won, knowing why it didn’t is still valuable feedback.
This might involve:
- Documenting questions that prospects frequently ask.
- Recording objections that occur during sales negotiations.
- Reviewing reasons for the loss of deals to understand potential market gaps.
Keep Up With Competitors
Understanding what competitors offer can provide insights into what customers in the market seek.
The best case scenario for most businesses is to know your competitors' products and services and how they differ or are the same as yours. It’s also smart to use any competitor numbers you can verify as benchmarks.
From our experience, the best way to achieve this is through competitive assessments.
That's because they offer a strategic advantage by providing a comprehensive understanding of competitors' strengths, weaknesses, and market positioning, enabling informed decision-making and positioning your business for a sustained competitive edge.
For more insights, watch our video on the benefits of competitive assessments.
Benefits From B2B Audience Research
Engaging in B2B audience research done properly offers a variety of benefits, some of which we see all the time are:
- Informed Decision-Making: By analyzing data on customer preferences and needs, companies can make evidence-based decisions regarding product development and marketing strategies.
- Enhanced Customer Insights: Understanding the motivations and behaviors of the target audience helps in tailoring products and services to better meet their requirements.
- Effective Segmentation: Research facilitates the segmentation of the target audience, enabling more personalized and effective marketing efforts.
- Strategic Entry into New Markets: Businesses can assess the viability of new markets and minimize risk through thorough market analysis.
When conducted correctly, B2B market research can provide a foundation for enhanced sales performance, customer retention, and long-term business growth.
More Things To Think About (You Might Not Have)
Target More Than One Audience Segment
B2B markets are usually not very conformed.
Even though the 80/20 rule may be true (20% of the market will be 80% of your business) B2B audiences still can be made up of various segments with distinct needs and behaviors.
When conducting audience research, it is crucial to identify and analyze multiple audience segments.
For example, a company might target both end-users and decision-makers within client organizations because...
- End-users typically focus on usability and efficiency.
- Decision-makers often prioritize ROI and total cost of ownership.
Understanding these nuances allows for a more comprehensive market strategy.
Time Your Research
The timing of B2B audience research can also influence the usefulness of the insights gathered.
Here are specific timing considerations:
- Product Development Cycle: Conduct research early to inform the product roadmap and adjust based on industry trends.
- Market Fluctuations: Time research to understand how economic changes affect purchasing decisions.
- Seasonal Trends: Assess whether certain times of the year affect your audience's behavior or needs.
Things To Improve With B2B Research
Our market research company constantly sees businesses use both qualitative and quantitative research to gauge how their brand is viewed in the marketplace.
We help them conduct surveys to measure brand awareness and associations, and use data to pinpoint areas for improvement.
Tracking brand performance continually (like with brand awareness surveys) provides insight, allowing businesses to respond swiftly to changes in perception.
Products and Service Optimization
Research in B2B can identify how to enhance products and services to better meet customer needs.
Detailed analysis of customer feedback and market trends can indicate which features or services could be refined.
Businesses may benefit from running customer satisfaction surveys to find out exactly what should be improved.
Improve Your Buyer's Journey Map
Understanding and improving the buyer's journey involves examining every interaction customers have with the company.
Customer experience (CX) research is invaluable for this process. Businesses should know each of their touchpoints with the customer.
They should also identify friction points and develop strategies to streamline the buying process.
By enhancing these touchpoints, B2B companies can improve customer retention and facilitate business growth.
Frequently Asked Questions About B2B Audience Research
How do you research a B2B audience?
To research a B2B audience, businesses must analyze their market position and recognize the specific needs and challenges faced by their clients. This often involves conducting surveys, interviews, and engaging in market analysis to collect valuable data that helps in understanding the B2B audience better.
How do I find my B2B target audience?
To pinpoint your B2B target audience, start by conducting thorough market research to identify industries and businesses that align with your product or service offering.
Utilize demographic and firmographic data, engage in social listening, and leverage online platforms to analyze the behavior and preferences of potential clients, ensuring a targeted and effective outreach strategy.
What are some commonly used research methods for gathering B2B market insights?
Common research methods include surveys for quantitative data and interviews or focus groups for qualitative insights. Firms often track brand performance continuously to capture any changes in the market dynamic. Analysis may be supported by UX research experts to conduct powerful studies.
Are you considering a market research project in the B2B space? Do you have a B2B customer audience, or are you looking to target a niche B2B audience with specific roles, titles, or responsibilities?
First, let's create a plan for your research and find out more about your needs. Then, we put together a custom plan for you. We can help. Contact us below.
- Message us on our website
- Email us at [email protected]
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- Text us at 315-303-2040
Austin has an extensive background in SEO as he's been blogging since 16 years old back when the internet was in its infancy. As fitting, he holds a Bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in creative writing.
Learn more about Austin, here.