How important is market research? Does it move the needle enough relative to the cost?
These are a couple of questions we often hear when companies explore market research’s potential impact, and whether they have the marketing budget for it.
Unfortunately, market research is one of the first few B2B marketing channels to have their budgets slashed. The proof: Only 30% of B2B marketers are prioritizing research in their current marketing strategies, according to our recent B2B marketing trends study.
But hear me out. Market research has one of the greatest spillover benefits creating a powerful go-to-market engine that affects all facets of the business.
In particular, market research is priceless for both your content and product strategy, because that research:
- Informs product development and helps better align your offering to your buyers, and
- Creates differentiated and high-value content that presents your company as a thought leader in the industry
Conversion and credibility? Yes!
But, with a lean team and minimal extra time, how can we make it happen?
Let’s take a look at why leveraging external expertise, i.e. B2B market research companies, may be the easiest and most profitable answer to that question.👇
See how Robert and others easily build libraries of differentiated content from a single research report.
Discover everything you need to know about ViB Research, including how it works and its success stories through our comprehensive video walkthrough.
Understanding the B2B market research agency landscape
First of all, the B2B market research services landscape is broad. Very broad.
Navigating that will require critical alignment across your B2B marketing, sales, and product development teams.
Market research vendors should also align with your financial and brand goals, execute with precision, and accelerate the growth of all channels. Finding vendors with your “goldilocks” characteristics will ultimately shape the success of your research.
To help you better understand this landscape, let me group these research firms into four distinct categories, each with its own set of pros and cons that I’ll highlight.
By the way, I’ll also be focusing more on quantitative research options here, which are the most feasible type for content and product marketing needs.
Group 1: Top tier analyst research firms
Think Gartner, Forrester, and IDC. The crème de la crème of research firms with the golden price tag.
These firms offer some of the richest, most in-depth insights one could find. But, these leased data sets are typically priced between $80,000 and $250,000. This is mostly because you’re paying for their brand credibility and global reach.
While they are expensive, these firms guarantee a consistent level of high-quality reports that are both reputable and unbiased. Although a great resource when planning product strategy, firms that only offer leased data typically require additional licensing and permission to repurpose that data across your other marketing channels.
📍Grab this page and the rest of the guide, How to Conduct Market Research Without Breaking The Bank, for free.
Group 2: Mid-tier analyst firms
Mid-tier firms find a somewhat sweet spot in price and report depth but still lean heavily into protecting and maintaining ownership of the data they gather.
With reports ranging from $30,000 to $60,000, mid-tier firms are far more affordable than top-tier.
Slightly different from their top-tier counterparts, mid-tier firms give some ownership to their customers but still require their branding imprint on all content (usually at a prevailing size compared to the customers’).
I’ll talk about the best B2B market research companies in detail below, along with some killer market research report examples, so feel free to jump straight to the review if you’re ready.
Group 3: Sponsorship-based research firms
The sponsorship model is unique in that companies are paying to sponsor research being done. While it may or may not give your company the reports or information it’s looking for, it puts your logo on valuable industry reports which are then sent out to decision-makers.
A somewhat outdated approach, the sponsorship model gives customers little to no involvement in the research being held, the questions being asked, or the audience participating.
The biggest concern marketers have had with this model is the co-mingling of branding with competitors. While your brand is being put in front of potential leads, your brand value is also diluted by being advertised with competitors.
Group 4: Community-based research firms
The community model goes against the grain.
Unlike the other models, the community model is a fraction of the cost of traditional models running between $17,500 and $25,000.
The community model taps into an existing audience pool within a specific target industry to solve one of the biggest challenges in conducting research — respondent recruiting.
I’m not just talking about loosely targeted respondents either. Instead, they are respondents who fit your ICP and are interested in participating.
Suppose you’re a SaaS business for example. In that case, this means getting responses from decision-making professionals who are willing to share their valuable insights and experiences to help them on their journey to finding answers to those challenges.
Pair that with a dedicated team of researchers and analysts in that industry, and you get affordable yet high quality research results.
And, good news! Your company owns all the data, which you can put to work in your full funnel strategy. Just like how Illumio turned their data into a state of industry report and whitepaper for example.
Illumio unpacks the State of Security Segmentation, by surveying 300+ IT professionals in their specialized cybersecurity industry. Plus, see how they repurpose their findings into an additional whitepaper.
Now, let’s walk through some of the best B2B market research vendors (in our humble opinion)!👇
The 5 best B2B market research survey companies
There’s no way around it — every business needs dependable, quality research to help their team make informed marketing decisions.
Of course, getting that information can feel like an uphill climb with rocks in the form of, out-of-budget, lack of ownership, and second-rate data knocking you down.
Ultimately, it comes down to listing out what’s most valuable to your team and finding a vendor that checks all the boxes.
Have your checklist ready? Let’s get started! ✅
1 – Gartner
Did you think we’d make a list and not include one of the biggest in the game?
With over 40+ years in the industry, Gartner is a member of the S&P 500 with over 15,000 client enterprises. Their research is gathered through the use of proprietary research methodologies that ensure the insights are objective and independent.
Gartner provides a vast amount of rich data across industries but tends to avoid more niche verticals.
And, with the average cost of Gartner subscription and fees coming in between $50,000 and $100,000, they’ve positioned themselves as a top-tier research vendor.
With this subscription fee, your team will receive access to their standard publications, toolkits, and a limited number of calls with analysts.
The main drawback though — licensing is conditional. Gartner will own all rights, titles, and interests in their research while labeling you a Licensed User.
Meaning, you may use the information for limited internal purposes only without the ability to repurpose any of their findings.
So, if you have a highly specific audience or ‘story’ to tell, other options might be a better fit.
2 – Forrester
Forrester, like Gartner, is a top-tier research conglomerate that serves a large portion of the Fortune 500.
Their insights are grounded in annual surveys of more than 675,000 professionals across a wide variety of industries.
With their market research service, customers receive:
- Customer obsession research
- Customer insights and trends
- Opportunities to strengthen your product roadmap with a unique look into competitors’ weaknesses
- Tools for growth
Highly regarded in the tech industry, Forrester is a “get what you pay for” partner. With subscriptions starting at around $75,000 (not including licensing), Forrester will provide you with leading industry research to help you seize opportunities to differentiate your company from others in the market.
Unfortunately, like Gartner, Forrester maintains all rights to their research, offering purchasable licensing options based on varying distribution needs.
3 – Enterprise Strategy Group by TechTarget
Enterprise Strategy Group is a mid-tier research vendor that offers data-driven insights to help your team make informed decisions for the best go-to-market strategies.
Whether you’re looking for strategic direction while think-tanking your newest product launch or looking for clarity in your marketing strategy, ESG offers customizable research services tailored to your team’s specific needs.
Unlike traditional models, ESG uses a unique combination of research methodologies which include:
- Quantitative and qualitative surveys
- Focus groups
- Market modeling
- Economic modeling
Their services cost between $30,000 and $60,000 with customers retaining the exclusive right to their research data, allowing for content syndication across all marketing channels.
Similar to some of the top tier ones, there are limitations in branding, licensing, and setting the narrative.
4 – Osterman Research
Osterman Research is a sponsorship model market research company that focuses on delivering insights in the cybersecurity, data protection, and information governance industries.
Using a core group of well-qualified group of IT and security professionals, Osterman creates a survey panel where they share information about their IT infrastructure and corporate profile.
The interesting part is there’s a predetermined agenda or roster of research topics that they’ll cover. In other words, the client (you) won’t be able to determine the research scope.
Instead, Osterman publishes up to ten different reports yearly about IT and cybersecurity subject matters and invites companies to purchase sponsorships. These include the customer’s branding on one of those reports.
Multiple relevant vendors can be sponsors though, making it possible for brand dilution, and losing to competitors.
5 – ViB Research
ViB Research is a valuable and unique alternative to traditional research models because it keeps your best interest at the forefront.
With an engaged community of high-tech professionals, ViB ensures the survey respondents fit your target market.
The average cost for their research services is between $17,500 and $25,000, which pales in comparison to the steep price tag of the alternatives.
ViB also offers specialist guidance to collaboratively help with the strategizing process while maintaining the bulk of the subsequent work. This gives marketers ownership of the creative process without inundating them with the nuances of bringing it to fruition.
This customization also means that you determine the research agenda. This comes in handy if you have a specific narrative in mind, and need to position your brand favorably. For startups in particular, ViB research eliminates the risk of negative evaluation that often comes with traditional analysts.
Best of all, when research is complete in a short 4-6 weeks, you own the rights to all the data. The end product is a research report on your brand.
There’s a lot of perks, so to sum it up:
- Third-party vendor neutral research, but in your brand
- Short 4-6 week-long guided process by research specialists at ViB
- High-quality tech respondents with niche targeting options
- No licensing and repurposing restrictions; full data ownership
- No additional competitors or sponsors
All these mean repurpose away! 🎤
Use your research to get leads, like this renowned tech company for example. From a single research project, they generated:
- 10 content assets and interviews generated
- Over $2 million in close/won deals
- $3M in open opportunity pipeline
🔎 Read the full story: ViB Research Generates $5M in Pipeline
Tips for choosing the best B2B market research company
According to Hubspot, one of the greatest concerns for marketers in 2023 is keeping up with the evolving consumer trends.
Facing increased competition and an unstable economy, around 17% of marketers are concerned with pivoting their marketing strategy. (HubSpot)
It means that staying ahead of evolving consumer expectations requires partnering with vendors who have the resources, expertise, and audience to give you credible data sets and reports that keep you two steps ahead of the competition.
If you’re new to B2B market research servicex (or haven’t found the partner for you), use our tips below to find a reputable partner that’ll help you gain ground against competitors before the year’s end. 👇
1. Expert-led methodology?
Find a partner that allows you to set the research objective that best aligns with your team’s needs instead of fitting your needs into a larger research study they’re already conducting.
Seasoned researchers should be collaborating with your team during the preparatory stage, laying the groundwork for the research ahead and ensuring your goals are met with precision.
2. High-quality, targeted respondents?
Do their respondents make up your target market? Or, would their respondents be a good representation of your target audience? The answer to both should be “yes!”
Research should be compliant and held objectively, meaning they should have a pre-established audience of professionals within your target audience ready and opt-in to receiving surveys.
Get a free sample of a market research report by Snyk 🤑
3. Affordable and quick?
This is a no-brainer. Market research should always be within budget without sacrificing quality.
Ideal partners will deliver research in as little as a few months, ensuring you’re staying ahead of the curve and the data you receive doesn’t have a short shelf life.
4. Full data ownership?
Will you fully own the data once the research is complete? If you don’t have full licensing over the content, will that come at an additional cost?
It’s important to understand where your ownership lies, especially when considering repurposing content. To ensure you receive the full ROI of your services, we suggest finding a partner that offers exclusive rights to your data.
Getting started with B2B market research
You may be thinking… “This all sounds great, but we aren’t exactly sure what story to tell, what respondents we need, or how can we get the most out of our market research tools and results?”
That’s a great question! And, one we think it’s important to highlight.
By working with a reputable B2B market research company, you will have access to Analysts or Specialists who can help walk you through the process of identifying a compelling research narrative.
Let’s say you’re a privacy app that plans on marketing initially to tech professionals who seem to be more interested or aware of cyber threats. You may know you want to market to tech professionals and that’s about it. Maybe you’re unaware of niches you should focus on within that industry, and the specific angle to use.
The good thing is that those questions are a perfect place to start, and exactly where our research team at ViB can help. By working with a specialist research team like us, we’ll help craft a strategic survey that’ll get you the answers you’re looking for.
Whether you’re an established company sitting pretty on the Fortune 500 index or brand new to the tech world, market research is critical in positioning you ahead of the competition and accelerating growth.
Need more info? Get more specs about ViB Research with the datasheet here.