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B2B Market Research Options for the IT Sector

B2B Market Research
 
Angela Greaves

B2B market research can offer many benefits to a technology company’s marketing strategy but whilst we’ve all heard of the big names, Gartner, Forrester, IDC, and so on, for B2B market research, specifically in the IT sector, there is limited analysis on analysts and what they do.

A lot of money can be invested in engaging analysts for different marketing activities – from determining your market strategy and subscribing to research, through supporting events with thought leadership presentations, and developing white papers and other content.

Given the expense, it is worthwhile taking a look at B2B analysis and market research options available for the IT sector and determining where you might want to use the services of one of the big analysts or make use of other smaller companies, research agencies, or other online research options, to support content marketing.

Continue reading as we take a look at where analysts and B2B market research companies fit in, along with other options, to help in developing compelling content.

What do market analysts do?

There are a few key areas that market analysts can help, starting with the obvious.

Market Analysis

Market analysis can offer valuable insight for a start-up business, such as understanding the potential of your offering, customer segments, product positioning or competition. Equally, a well-established business should use ongoing market analysis to ensure the business strategy is on track and heading in the right direction, should you make any adjustments.

Market analysis is also necessary as a business strategy and sales tool for onboarding potential channel partners to educate your channel with information about the size of the market and the positioning of your product in the market.

This can be carried out by engaging an analyst or accessing their existing research papers for your product area.  You might need to refer to one analyst for quantitative information on the size of the market (IDC for example), and another (Gartner) for more information on product positioning, adoption, gaps for product enhancement, and the competition.

Market analysis and independent findings are also key at different stages of the sales cycle.

Thought Leadership and Awareness

Before potential customers even start evaluating your product, you will want to make them aware of your company and its offering.  At this stage, they will be researching to understand what is available in the market to fulfil their needs.  They will be looking at independent research with questions like: What is the state of the market?  What are other people are doing to address this need? What offerings are available, and what advantages/benefits do they provide?  Who are the key players for this product or solution in the market?

Consideration/Convincing

There is nothing like an independent voice to help back up sales. Customers, whether they are consumers or B2B, like to hear about the product they are using from an independent expert or satisfied customer. This is where potential customers might be looking at the Gartner “Magic Quadrant” to understand who the key players in the market are.  At this stage, they are asking:  Why should I buy your product versus the competition?  Who has used the product successfully and what were the benefits?

Evaluation

At the evaluation stage, potential customers are getting to the stage where they are starting to understand where your product sits in the market via tools, such as the Gartner magic quadrant, for example.  Analysis of different vendors from analysts help form decisions with answers to questions like what are the technical benefits of your products versus those of other vendors in the market? What are the key differentiators of your product?

What are the options for B2B market research? What IT analysts are out there?

There is a range of market research companies out there to help with analysis and provide content for your customer journey.

There are big-name companies, such as IDC, Gartner, Frost & Sullivan, Forrester Research, IHS Markit, Ovum and Aberdeen Group, for example.  Most of the larger analysts have a global focus, but many others might be regionally focused or have a specialist product area.  And, as mentioned above, some provide more advice on the numbers, such as market size, versus others who do detailed research on product areas and technology vendors and benefits. You can commission specific research to be done via the big names, but this is out of the reach of most companies, and it is more likely that you would subscribe to their research for your specific market and on an ad-hoc basis engage analysts to support you with presentations at events.

We have mentioned some of the big names, but there are other smaller analysts available, who are more regionally focused, who you might want to consider for conducting market research.  Local research companies often use online panels of CTOs and IT Managers to conduct research or publish regular omnibuses of market trends, to which you might be able to add specific questions you might want to ask your audience.  This can be an effective and cost-effective way of understanding your market and current trends.  Answers from the online panel or omnibus questions will also provide you with information and useful stats for PR and help you to build content, such as e-books, white papers, and campaigns throughout the year.

How can you use B2B market research to help create content for your customer journey?

A dedicated piece of primary research can be expensive, so, consider using regional research companies to target online panels or add a specific set of questions to the regular surveys they carry out for their omnibuses.  You can also subscribe to these research company omnibuses, which can provide useful statistics to be incorporated into your content.

You might also want to consider an annual or biannual survey out to your existing customers to gauge the market, specific issues and trends. 

In addition to conducting primary research with target respondents via a market research company or internally, you can often locate independent factual or statistical information to illuminate your content from existing public sources by doing some desk research.  It is worth doing this desktop research first, to check what is already out there, and places where you can add information that adds to the picture and will be of interest to potential buyers.

The research approach you take will depend on budget, the type of campaign and the content you are looking to create.  Here are a few suggestions of where you might use your research to enhance your content marketing strategy:

  • PR via published articles using your independent or customer findings and statistics.
  • Publish your research report as a download on your website.
  • Thought leadership pieces, such as e-books, white papers, presentations, blogs, articles.
  • Engage the analyst for third party/expert reviews or use the findings in webinars, presentations at face-to-face events, video interviews and podcasts.
  • Improve your website and printed collateral by using findings and statistics.
  • Use your findings in demand generation campaigns – email, social media, throughout the year.

Looking for support on your next B2B market research project? Or are you looking to enhance your content marketing strategy? Get in touch with the Motion team to learn more about our marketing services and how we can help.

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