Table of contents
- How can my business use market research?
- What types of marketing research should I use?
- Market research
- Competitor research
- Client and stakeholder research
- Audience research
- Other marketing research FAQs
We’ve seen first-hand how important market research has become over the last decade for B2B companies. Gut feeling was always a huge part of business, and of marketing, but now the need to support this feeling with data is imperative to success.
The B2B technology sector in particular has grown more complex to navigate – with multiple decision makers within each company, a longer buyer funnel, and a more saturated, noisy market. This has meant that the quality of your market research can mean the difference between a flow of lead generation and a failed campaign.
Data as a product has exploded in recent years due to its value for domains like product development, business strategies, and of course – marketing. Businesses are veering away from relying on their intuition and experience, to delving into available data to understand relationships, patterns, and make predictions about the success of strategic actions or decisions.
Conducting marketing research equips you with informed insight into your target audience and marketplace. It gives you concrete data about how these B2B ‘buyers’ are behaving and what they are looking for, so you can adjust your messaging to suit. In a competitive market like technology, or for a targeted offering, like defence intelligence solutions, having this information is especially useful.
Digital marketers, like EV, utilise market research, data collection and analytics techniques every day to inform our activities and frequently adjust our plans for optimal success.
There are multiple forms of marketing data which can help you create informed marketing strategies which are truly tailored to your target audience and market conditions. Creating your marketing plans based on this research – compared to making shots in the dark – will maximise your likelihood of success.
Here are the 5 primary areas of marketing research you should be using:
Market research helps build the foundation for your marketing strategy. Although you are the experts in your solution, this stage gives you insight into the overall trends, challenges, and demands that are driving your target market.
This exploratory research stage is important for carving out exactly what your core value proposition to the market is – whether that’s meeting a rising demand, or providing a solution to an emerging problem. It may also uncover some key opportunities that you hadn’t yet considered.
Although competitor research shouldn’t form the basis of your marketing, it’s important to understand how the rest of your market is behaving. Looking into your competitor’s websites, their key messaging about their products or services, their target sectors, and other activities can show you best practices in your industry – such as tone and branding – as well as helping you decide how you want to be different.
From here you can carve out your own niche. What is unique about you? What can you offer that others can’t or aren’t? Is there an opportunity for disruption?
Don’t forget the value of delving into your own resources. Your team, your board, and your investors will have first-hand insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your company. Talk to people and use their feedback to create a SWOT table. This information will be essential in determining the next best steps for your marketing activity.
Treat this like a focus group. Asking open ended questions and giving your participants the opportunity to open up honestly.
It’s also valuable to consistently check up with your clients to find out what they like and where you could improve. Plus, they can tell you exactly what people in their industry (your target audience) are looking for. Although they aren’t likely to give you a complete education on how to market to them, it’s a good place to start.
Naturally, audience research is about understanding your audience’s motivations and requirements. About determining what they are looking for and what will influence them to buy or choose you. There are multiple stages of audience research which together will give you a clear understanding of your target audience and how to communicate with them through marketing.
Key questions this research helps you answer:
- Who are my different target audience’s?
- What content appeals to my target audience?
- Which digital channels do my audience use?
- What are my target audience’s pain points?
- What are my target audience’s demands?
Segmenting your audience
Market segmentation is the act of categorising your audience into groups with similar values, needs, or characteristics.
There are many ways to segment your audience. One good example is by sector if you’re targeting multiple. Each sector will have common overarching motivations for needing a solution, will have different requirements, and different use cases for that solution, amongst other factors.
Within these sectors, you can continue to segment your audience further into more specific groups based again on similar characteristics within given businesses. For example, the engineering team versus the C-suite.
Within your target audiences there will be multiple primary personas to think about. Businesses should research and create different marketing personas which represent this ‘type’ of user. This helps flesh out the qualitative aspects of this user group – such as what they like to read and what social media channels they’re commonly using – at a more personal level than segmentation.
Establishing your buyer journey
The buyer journey is another important aspect of audience research. The buyer journey represents the different stages of a consumer’s interaction with a company, moving from initial discovery to purchasing decisions to brand loyalty.
Each individual, within each persona, within each segmentation will experience multiple buyer stages during their relationship with your brand. At each stage, they will require a different type of communication and so this journey is essential for building your marketing strategy.
Should I use a market research company?
There is a fair amount of marketing research you can do yourself – using free or paid for tools, digging around the internet, and talking to people the old-fashioned way. This however will only get you a small glimpse of insight and it may not be focused in exactly the direction you want to look.
Hiring a market research company or marketing company will likely give you more reliable, comprehensive, and targeted insights into your area of interest. Outsourcing this work will also likely result in more quantitative results which can be more directly applied to your decisions.
What is the future of market research?
Markets and audiences will constantly be changing. This is why data has become so valuable for business strategizing at every level, in every department. While data analytics tools can give you excellent insight into your known data – market research is essential for keeping up with the wider market and audience landscape.
Additionally – as markets become increasingly saturated and competitive, utilising market data to inform your marketing activities can give you a much-needed edge against your competitors.
Find out more about B2B marketing techniques in our complete guide or call us on 07970 073929 for a no-strings chat about how you could use marketing research.