TL;DR: Creating a B2B marketing research report involves analyzing external and internal data, interviewing experts, and running surveys. Done right, it can boost your brand, attract prospects, and establish you as an industry authority.
Short on time? Skip to the FAQs below.
Research is a secret weapon
A well-written B2B marketing research report is an underrated marketing tactic.
Per Demand Gen Report, market research is the second most valuable content format for reaching B2B buyers, and the most likely to be shared.
These assets and white papers are great ways of establishing thought leadership.
From a marketing perspective, B2B marketers should conduct original research for better targeting, engagement, and retention.
Your team can also leverage the data to improve customer experience through more thoughtful product development.
There are 4 ways to create original marketing research reports that generate demand.
I’ve ranked them below from easiest to hardest (click on any link to skip to the relevant part):
Let’s dig in.
Analyze external data
Best for: Companies on a tight timeline with limited resources, or those with lots of data to play with.
Analyzing external data can be a quick, easy way to generate compelling insights around your category, product, or audience.
This approach involves taking data that exists elsewhere and analyzing it for your audience.
You then turn these insights into content that helps your audience win.
Analyzing third-party data reduces the need to generate your own data or find respondents to survey.
- A bingo company surveyed search engine data to uncover which UK cities showed the most interest in bingo games over the previous 12 months. The report and story got picked up by major news outlets countrywide.
- During the pandemic’s rampant tech layoffs, Roger Lee of Comprehensive.io created layoffs.fyi to analyze which companies were doing the most layoffs. The story got picked up by major news outlets in the US and worldwide.
Analyze internal data
Best for: Companies that generate a large amount of data from their product or operations.
With internal data analysis, you mine your records for insights relevant to your audience.
This can involve looking at CRM data, website traffic data, or ad campaigns to uncover gems that help your audience gain an edge.
- Facebook’s CrowdTangle builds real-time streams of public posts, filtered to show the most relevant content around important topics and events.
- Meta also offers entire suites of topic visualizations based on their aggregated data.
Best for: Companies with a smaller respondent pool or whose target audience is more swayed by peer sentiment.
For sales-led companies or those running an account based marketing strategy, expert interviews help prospects consider you more strongly as their next vendor.
Instead of convincing prospects about the benefits of your products, you help them see those benefits through their peers’ eyes.
It involves conducting interviews with 10+ subject matter experts to uncover trends and insights on a topic.
You then turn these interviews into data-backed thought leadership content that highlights the problems a specific group faces, such as marketing, sales, product, or engineering leaders.
This approach to creating B2B research requires a good interviewer who can ask the right questions, and a good writer or editor who can turn the data into compelling content.
- Column interviewed marketing leaders to source insights into career growth, marketing strategy, and effective tactics for senior management.
Survey a defined audience
Best for: Companies that need to understand their audience or industry better.
With research surveys, you go broad and survey a defined audience for their thoughts on a topic.
You then turn these insights into a report on broader industry trends.
These insights can form part of your GTM strategy, as you feature the data in marketing materials, sales conversations, and product development.
For example, if you discover that 53% of executives say their companies are increasing investment in digital transformation, this can:
- Become a proof point on your homepage
- Influence your enterprise pricing strategy
- Justify investing in new products and services
Besides, a content marketing strategy built on surveys tends to compound on itself.
If you’ve been running the same survey for 3, 4, or 5 years in a row, you can generate useful multi-year insights and build a powerful moat against your competitors.
- Superpath surveys content marketers to produce the content marketing salary report — now in its 5th year.
- Salesforce produces a State of Service Report (now in its 5th year) and a State of Marketing Report (now in its 8th year).
- CMI surveys content marketers to produce the B2B Content Marketing Report each year, now in its 13th year.
7 elements you need to run a research survey
Research surveys take effort. Consider the following 7 elements to create an effective B2B marketing report:
Let’s explore each one.
What exactly are you trying to achieve with your B2B research report? Is it to
- Understand revenue or customer satisfaction drivers?
- Position yourself as an industry thought leader?
- Generate website traffic?
- Drive product demand?
For example, a SaaS industry report may serve to generate traffic and backlinks, while a banking and payments report may aim to influence policymakers.
Get clear on your goals to align everyone from the start.
How much time do you have to complete the research report?
You’ll need to consider the time needed to collect, analyze, visualize, and publicize the data.
Depending on which approach you take, you may need to budget for several weeks to a few months for research report creation.
How much money can you allocate towards creating a B2B research report?
In every B2B organization, marketing budgets are tied to expected returns, so the math must make sense.
Remember, you’ll be paying to:
- Collect data (e.g., through research platforms or paid ads)
- Analyze the data (with internal or external researchers)
- Present the data (with writers and designers), and
- Publicize the data (through paid ads or PR).
Proper planning helps control costs, especially when undertaking primary research.
What do you want to collect: quantitative data, qualitative data, or both?
Quantitative data is easier to collect, as you can provide pre-defined options for respondents to choose from.
This makes categorization and analysis easier, but may not add enough ‘color’ to your research.
Qualitative data takes a bit longer to analyze, but provides rich context around the numbers.
You’ll likely need to ask fewer, more open-ended questions in your survey or analyze a smaller subset of data.
There are pros and cons to each, of course.
Quantitative research might tell you that 500 pizza shops closed down in the past 6 months, but may not tell you why they closed down.
Some owners might have been moving to bigger locations, entering other niches, or buckling under economic hardship.
Qualitative research may tell you that Airbnbs in a certain city are experiencing increasing profits, but this may not apply broadly if it’s a coastal city experiencing a tourism boost.
A mixed-method research approach combines quantitative and qualitative data collection.
It can provide richer, more nuanced data to work with, but adds complexity to your research process.
Your research sources must be relevant, timely, and (relatively) free of bias.
If you’re researching:
- Marketing strategy effectiveness 👉🏽 you probably want to speak to senior-level marketers (CMOs, VPs, and directors) and exclude junior associates who don’t get to set strategy.
- Salary growth rates 👉🏽 ideally pick salary data from the past 1-5 years only.
- SEO tool effectiveness 👉🏽 maybe don’t ask SEO tool vendors who are incentivized to promote their products.
Define your target pool of respondents tightly to get accurate data.
Gathering data is one thing, but analyzing it well is another. There are different ways to approach data analysis.
One approach is descriptive analysis, where you summarize and describe the main characteristics of the data.
You crunch numbers, create colorful visualizations, and spot intriguing patterns or trends.
Another approach is diagnostic analysis, where you dig deeper to uncover the causes and relationships within the data.
You play detective, looking for correlations, conducting tests, and figuring out why things happened the way they did.
Then there’s predictive analysis, where you use historical data to predict the future.
You become a fortune-teller, employing fancy techniques like regression analysis and machine learning algorithms to forecast outcomes.
This is especially useful for B2B brands that sell multi-year solutions.
Beside the brand building, you help your B2B buyers justify the cost of investing in your solution.
If you want to take it a step further, there’s prescriptive analysis.
Here, you predict and provide recommendations or solutions based on those predictions.
And let’s not forget exploratory analysis, where you try to identify obvious errors, understand patterns within the data, detect outliers or anomalous events, and find interesting relations among the variables.
Choose the right approach based on your research goals, the type of data you have, and the resources at your disposal.
How you present your research findings impacts their reception. Your readers want actionable advice that’s easy on the eyes.
Here are a few tips:
- Use clear, concise language: Avoid jargon, and make your findings easy to understand.
- Visualize your data: Use charts, graphs, and infographics to make your findings more digestible and engaging (and thus easier to link to).
- Highlight key findings: Put the most important insights in the executive summary and at the beginning of each section.
- Provide actionable insights: Translate your findings into practical advice your audience can apply.
The work doesn’t end after exporting b2b_research_report_(FINAL)_v2.pdf.
You still need to promote your report to its intended audience.
Here are a few content distribution tactics to consider:
- Publish your report on your website: Optimize the report’s title and page content to attract organic search traffic. Consider running search engine ads on relevant keywords to reach decision-makers searching for answers.
- Share your report on social media: LinkedIn and Twitter can help you reach a wider audience and build brand awareness. Facebook ads can extend your reach even further and drive demand generation.
- Use email marketing: Send your report to your email list, or offer it as a download to attract new subscribers. Marketing automation tools can help you tease out your findings over a longer period.
- Collaborate with influencers: Reach out to influential figures in your industry and ask them to share your report with their audience, or to speak about a specific insight.
- Engage in public relations: Contact relevant journalists who cover topics that interest your potential customers.
Whatever you do, don’t let your brand new research report just collect dust.
Success metrics: How to tell if your B2B marketing research report hit the mark
So, you’ve put in the work, crunched the numbers, and released your B2B marketing research report into the wild.
How will you know if it’s making waves?
Here’s how to measure the success of your report in a way that’s as straightforward as the report itself.
- Count the downloads and shares: This is the low-hanging fruit of success metrics. A high number of downloads and shares means you’ve got an interested and engaged audience.
- Track the leads: Your report isn’t just a pretty face — it’s a lead generation machine. Keep an eye on the number of new leads or inquiries that roll in directly from the report. More leads? Your report is doing its job.
- Monitor website traffic: Use your favorite analytics tool to see if your industry report is drawing crowds. More visitors to your report’s webpage means more interest. And don’t forget to check how long they’re sticking around — the longer, the better.
- Look for citations and backlinks: If your B2B research report is getting cited by other businesses or media, give yourself a pat on the back. These citations and backlinks aren’t just good for SEO — they’re a sign that your report is a respected source of information.
- Measure sales conversion: Keep track of how many leads from the report turn into actual sales. If that number’s climbing, your research report isn’t just informative — it’s persuasive.
- Gather feedback and engagement: Don’t just count your audience — listen to them. Monitor comments, reviews, and direct feedback about your report. It’s like getting a report on your report, and it’s one of the best ways to learn how to make the next one even better.
- Assess influence on decision making: This one’s a bit trickier to measure, but it’s worth the effort. Use surveys or follow-up interviews to find out if your report has influenced business decisions or practices. If it has, that’s a sure sign your report is not just a good read — it’s a game-changer.
The secret to measuring success is to set clear goals right from the start.
Know what you want your report to achieve, and you’ll know exactly how to measure if it’s hit the mark.
Partner with a B2B market research firm for bespoke research
Teaming up with a B2B marketing research firm is like having a secret weapon.
They’ve got the know-how and the tools to dive deep into your industry, ensuring your research is as accurate as it is unbiased.
When you join forces with a specialized research firm, you’re not just getting a partner.
You’re getting access to their expertise in survey design, data collection, analysis, and report creation.
That means you’re getting a research report that’s not just impactful, but tailored to you.
Here at Column, we help you connect with your B2B customers while making the most of your marketing resources.
We don’t just design surveys and gather data from your market or industry. We analyze that data to uncover insights that are as meaningful as they are actionable.
And these research reports become the tools you need to boost your brand reputation, reel in new prospects, and impress the movers and shakers in your field.
Learn more today about the power of research report writing for your business.
Frequently asked questions
What are the key benefits of conducting original B2B marketing research?
Conducting original B2B marketing research unlocks industry insights, deciphers customer behavior, and pinpoints emerging market trends.
Crafting B2B research reports bolsters your company’s thought leadership, demonstrating your industry expertise and offering valuable insights to your target audience.
How many B2B research reports should you create per year?
Two annual research reports should suffice. A properly crafted B2B market research report can generate enough content for 4-6 months, leaving you plenty of time to plan and produce the next one.
How can I effectively promote my B2B research report to reach a wider audience?
Maximize the reach of your B2B research report by promoting it across multiple channels, including your website, social media platforms, email newsletters, and collaborations with industry influencers.
How much does it cost to create a B2B research report?
Anywhere from $1,500 for third-party data analysis to $50,000+ for bespoke research design, analysis, and publishing.
Your final investment will depend on your specific needs, timeline, and budget. Get in touch to learn more.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when creating a B2B research report?
Common mistakes include not defining clear objectives, using biased data, and failing to effectively present and promote the report.
Avoid these pitfalls in creating a B2B research report by setting clear objectives, sourcing unbiased data, and effectively presenting and promoting your findings.
How can I ensure the data collected for my B2B research report is reliable and unbiased?
Guarantee the reliability of your data by selecting credible sources, cross-validating your data, and upholding objectivity throughout your research.
What are some effective ways to visualize data in a B2B research report?
Bring your data to life with compelling visualizations such as charts, graphs, and infographics that clearly and engagingly represent your findings.
What are some examples of successful B2B research reports?
Successful B2B research reports, like Salesforce’s State of Service Report and CMI’s B2B Content Marketing Report, consistently deliver valuable industry insights and set the standard for high-quality research.
How can partnering with a B2B research agency enhance the quality of my research report?
Collaborating with a specialized B2B research agency can elevate the quality of your report, tapping into their expertise in survey design, data collection, data analysis, and report creation.