B2B Buyer Surveys: Mine Your Marketing Gold

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B2B buyer surveys are a rich source of material for insights and content. You don’t have to be a professional marketing researcher; you just need to follow some simple guidelines to get meaningful information.

Demand Gen Report’s 2019 Content Preferences Survey found that 66% of buyers want more data and research to support content. Surveys offer a ready opportunity to uncover that data.

Qualitative or Quantitative Questions? Yes.

Quantitative buyer surveys use straightforward questions with multiple-choice answers. Because the answers must fall into defined responses, quantitative surveys allow you to categorize responses and see patterns; i.e., you can count the number of people who respond a certain way and calculate the percentage of responses in terms of the sample size.

For example, if you’re surveying B2B buyers in the manufacturing industry about the types of content that they trust when evaluating solutions, you may find that 83% of your 100 respondents say blogs written by industry experts are their most trusted source of information.

But statistics don’t tell you everything, especially when you’re trying to understand what motivates your buyers as they travel along the buyer’s journey.

Qualitative questions, on the other hand, tend to be open-ended and can answer basic questions like why, when and how. They help you uncover the underlying concerns,  feelings and motivations behind the quantitative responses to give you deeper insights.

Here’s one scenario. You’re asking your buyers where they go for information when evaluating solutions. In the quantitative section, you can offer a list that may include items such as peers, industry analysts, conferences and websites. In the qualitative section, you might ask, “What specific events do you attend to learn about new innovations in the industry?” or “Which industry experts do you follow and trust?”

Develop Your Buyer Personas

Both quantitative and qualitative buyer surveys — and combinations of both — are great ways to research your personas. Surveys can help you confirm what you know about your buyers, fill in any gaps you may have or allow you to identify how they’re changing.

  • What are their pain points?
  • What are their buying triggers?
  • How do they evaluate solutions?
  • Where do they turn for information as they evaluate solutions?

While talking to sales representatives and other internal experts is a great starting point to build personas, asking your buyers directly for information will give you much greater confidence in the insights you gather.

Demonstrate Thought Leadership

Buyer surveys are a great way to establish your brand as an industry leader and a trusted and reliable source of information. Especially if there is no existing research out there that’s specific to an industry or a buyer persona or some other variable, conducting your own survey can become an incredibly valuable resource for your buyers.

By adding your own experts’ insights and opinions about the findings, you can also establish your brand and your people as industry thought leaders.

Consider a survey that asks your buyers about industry forces that are affecting them and their businesses and how they’re responding to these forces. Your buyers will be interested in learning about the challenges their peers are facing and whether they share the same challenges. They’ll also want to know how their peers are responding to these challenges and how their own response measures up.

Conduct the same survey annually, and it can become an industry resource that is eagerly anticipated and sought after for understanding what’s happening in the industry.

Mine the Results for Rich Content

Once you conduct a buyer survey, what can you do with the findings? The most obvious answer is to create content — and lots of it.

When you’ve done all the work of collecting information create a report that presents your findings. This can serve as a foundational piece from which can flow a whole slew of derivative content.

Keep in mind that this report likely includes extremely valuable information and insights, so consider gating it.

Once you have the report, here are some ways to use it:

  • Present a webcast that discusses the findings.
  • Create an infographic using the most interesting statistics.
  • Develop listicles that address the top responses; for example, “The top 5 types of content your buyers trust.”
  • Create Q&As, checklists, briefs, and blog posts around specific findings (because now you have insights into your buyer personas).

Alicia Esposito offers more suggestions here in “5 Ways to Get More Bang for Your Survey Bucks.” Also check out Demand Gen Report’s helpful guide, How to Use Surveys in Each Stage of the Marketing Flywheel.

Content4Demand has worked with B2B brands of all sizes to develop buyer surveys, comprehensive research reports and engaging derivative assets. Let us know if you have questions about how to execute yours.

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