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Business volunteering – people or profits?

The B2B Research Blog

Last year we started a volunteering programme here at Circle.  We’d always supported various charities through donations or fundraising, but felt that perhaps our time might be just as valuable. So as a company we pledged to donate a month of our time in ‘man-hours’ every year to charity and worthwhile causes.  In part we did so by volunteering at an inner-city school in London. 

Are B2B agencies adapting quickly enough?

The B2B Research Blog

Of the 70 agencies that feature in this year’s B2B Marketing Agency League, 10 show no or negative turnover growth.  In past years this could be explained away by a recessionary environment.  So why are these agencies struggling? Well, more intense competition is probably part of the problem.  Three years ago 40 agencies featured in the league table, now there are 70. 

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A wake up call for market research agencies

The B2B Research Blog

Greenbo ok has just published the latest edition of the GRIT Report.  The study, now in its 11 th year and based on the opinions of 1,400+ practitioners, monitors trends in the market research industry. The report is a real wake-up call for market research agencies.  Sadly only a select few seem to be listening. Five years on, that’s still the case.  There’s a good connection with marketers (i.e.

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B2B market research – 10 unique features

The B2B Research Blog

Is B2B market research really that different from B2C?  Well in a nutshell, yes.  In this blog post Circle’s Andrew Dalglish explores the 10 key differences that make B2B research unique. As you go about your daily business it’s unlikely that you’ll come into contact with many people who think that a pair of jeans and a nuclear power plant have a lot in common. And with good reason.

150 Content Marketing Tips

Drive traffic—and leads—with these tips for SEO, social media, content optimization, email marketing, and more.

What makes a good marketing leader?

The B2B Research Blog

There are two universal truths about all marketing plans. One, no matter how smart the plan might be, it’s worthless unless well executed. And two, no plan has ever executed itself – people make it happen. Here’s another observation. Two marketing teams with identical skills and resources, both looking to achieve the same goals, can achieve very different results. That’s down to leadership – the ability to get the best out of people and make 1 + 1 = 3. The latest B2B Marketing Leaders Report, produced in conjunction with Circle Research, explores how to lead well. They gave clear guidance.

Finding the brand positioning sweet spot

The B2B Research Blog

Managing a B2B brand isn’t easy.  In a recent survey of 100 senior B2B marketers conducted for the B2B Leaders Forum by Circle Research , they named three major challenges: Resources:  Brand building is a lower priority than activity which directly builds revenue in the short-term. In this post I’d like to focus on the last challenge – finding the right brand positioning.

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What system 1 and 2 thinking mean for B2B marketers

The B2B Research Blog

A clever chap called Daniel Kahneman has a theory. When making decisions there are two systems in our mind which influence the outcome.   System 1 works at a sub-conscious level without us knowing it.  Using intuition and beliefs about how the world works, it makes a rapid assessment of the situation then quickly settles on a course of action.  In contrast, system 2 works at a conscious level.   Using deliberative reasoning and logic, it carefully evaluates the situation before reaching a conclusion. Now, what does all this mean for B2B marketers?

The month in #mrx

The B2B Research Blog

Every four weeks we here at @circle_research find the most popular Tweets about market research (#mrx in Twitter talk) and take a look at what’s hot. What do surveys and Bollywood have in common? This month saw an unusual collision of two worlds.  And in first place…@esoGOV. Topping the bill was ESOMAR Government Affairs ( @esoGOV ). close second…@kristinluck. And last but not least… @Euromonitor.

Social media in B2B – the latest stats

The B2B Research Blog

The allure of social media in B2B is growing rapidly. Over four in five marketing teams (83 per cent) now post on social media – an activity that consumes one fifth of their time (20 per cent) – and three quarters (77 per cent) expect to spend more time doing this over the next 12 months. Over one third (35 per cent) of organisations now subscribe to a paid social media monitoring platform.

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Does Big Data mean market research is dead?

The B2B Research Blog

When Big Data finally becomes a reality, does that mean market research will become surplus to requirements?  Will surveys, focus groups and interviews become relics of a bygone age? Some would say so. They argue that we already have the answers to most questions at our fingertips.  They’re sitting in our servers and on the web.  All we need to do is mine the data to reveal the insight.  That being the case, why bother asking customers themselves, especially as what people say they do, doesn’t always match what they actually do? They’ve got a point.  But it can’t reveal everything.

Content Marketing 2016: Staffing, Measurement, and Effectiveness

We surveyed 2016's content marketing leaders on their biggest issues, hurdles, and goals.

Branding is b t

The B2B Research Blog

“Branding is marketing b t. Only FMCG firms who need to build aspirations and desire worry about stuff like that. B2B is different. The relationship is with me – the sales guy – not the corporate brand. Even if it wasn’t, buyers are rational and put emotions to one side. And anyway our brand is just fine, the logo is great.”. Sound familiar? As a marketer you no doubt recognise the value of a strong brand.  77% of the 100 B2B marketing leaders we recently surveyed for the B2B Leaders Forum went so far as to describe branding as critical to their company’s future growth.

B2B social media: Highlights from new benchmarking research

The B2B Research Blog

B2B social media; is it a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes? The latest B2B Marketing Benchmark Report – based on a survey of 274 client side B2B marketers conducted by us here at Circle Research – finally seems to provide a definitive answer.  The social media Emperor is getting dressed, but is still in his underpants. The report is set to be launched late August, but here’s a sneak preview.

Financial benchmarks for B2B marketing agencies

The B2B Research Blog

You may have read my recent post about B2B Marketing’s 2014 Agency League Table (if not, take a peek here ).  By now you may even have read the full report.  In this post I’d like to share a few gems which you won’t find in either. I’ve been wading around in the raw data which underpins the League Table and in doing so have unearthed some benchmarks which agency leaders will find especially useful. Let’s look at the top line first.  The average agency turnover is £4.08 million (up 13% from 2013).  However, as averages mask the extremes a more useful approach is to identify quartiles.  million.

It’s official – in B2B, content is king

The B2B Research Blog

It’s official.  Content is king. The latest B2B Marketing Benchmark report  produced in association with Circle Research reveals that 71% of B2B marketers consider content marketing to be a critical activity.  Last year less than half (43%) held this opinion. Content marketing in some shape or form now consumes 40% of the average B2B marketing department’s time.  Highest on the ‘to do’ list are three heavily used content formats: blog posts (61% use), case studies (45%) and white papers (44%).  Importantly, these different formats are being used for different purposes.  What’s the secret? 

Study: How Much of Your Content Marketing Is Effective?

745 marketers told us how effective their content marketing is. Here's what we learned.

Email marketing: Overcoming message overload

The B2B Research Blog

I’ve always felt my groaning inbox bore testament to the popularity of email marketing.  Now my suspicions are confirmed. . The latest report in B2B Marketing’s Benchmark series reveals that a whopping nine in ten (88%) B2B marketers make use of the technique.  Remarkably, amongst those doing so almost one half (44%) broadcast emails once a week or more often. Click for enlarged infographic.

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The benefits of marketing automation aren’t automatic

The B2B Research Blog

Predictions that 2015 is the year of marketing automation seem to be spot on.  The latest Benchmarking Report from B2B Marketing reveals that the vast majority of B2B marketers have either adopted an automation solution (43%) or plan to in the next 12 months (45%).  If you’re about to take the plunge there are some valuable lessons to be taken from those who have gone before. They’ll tell you to carefully manage your own and others’ expectations.  Most adopted an automation system to achieve three goals: to better manage leads, to deliver more relevant content/messaging and to increase revenue. 

How Big Data will shape the researcher of 2020

The B2B Research Blog

A new report from Circle Research and dnx confirms the view that Big Data is the next revolutionary force in marketing.  43% of marketers are already mining petabytes of customer data to uncover hidden insights into behaviour; a further 40% plan to embrace Big Data’s benefits in the next three years. Here’s the good news for the market research community. The report reveals that marketers feel three skills are critical if they want to become CEOs of the future: Knowledge of customer insight and its applications (71% name as critical skill). Excellent communication skills (69%).

How B2B brands approach Twitter

The B2B Research Blog

Social media has become a bit of an obsession for me. Not so much as a participant, but as an observer. I’m the technology equivalent of a bird watcher. I’ve been observing B2B marketers in their natural habitat. Noting their behaviours. Sketching and documenting the different species I see. call them ‘Twitologies’ and I’d like to share an outline of them here. It all began with a study Circle Research conducted for B2B Marketing late in 2011 to establish the ‘state of the nation’ in B2B social media. And after more than 250 interviews with client-side readers we had a solid benchmark.

Content Methodology: A Best Practices Report

If you're concerned that your organization's content marketing isn't as effective as it could be, this report is for you.

It’s all about the lead

The B2B Research Blog

Marketing still plays second fiddle to sales in B2B organisations. . Past readings of the B2B Barometer survey reveal that up to 60% of B2B marketers agree with this statement and the latest survey published in June 2012 confirms it. . Two fifths (41%) of B2B marketers report that their single highest marketing priority for 2012 is to generate more of the salesperson’s raw material – leads.  Fair enough.  After all, few brands have buyers queuing at their door so ‘hunting’ revenue has to be a key focus. It seems that lead generation is not cheap.  So how best to generate them? The solution?

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B2B brands are dead. Long live B2B2C brands!

The B2B Research Blog

I’ve been having a quick look at the list of top 20 B2B brands compiled by Superbrands UK and published earlier in the week (see the full list of B2B superbrands  here ).  Three things strike me as being really interesting: Being a brand that is exclusively B2B isn’t enough. Maybe this B2B2C trend reflects the often forgotten fact that B2B decision makers are humans too.  Long live B2B2C brands!

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Which B2B brands do you most respect?

The B2B Research Blog

Which B2B brands do you most respect? We recently posed this question to 100 marketing leaders in B2B companies. Two brands emerged head and shoulders above the rest: IBM and Salesforce. My interest piqued, I asked Xabier Ormazabal (Salesforce’s head of UK marketing) and Paul Smith (VP EMEA Salesforce Marketing Cloud) what the secret of Salesforce’s success was. They gave ten tips: It’s not your brand. brand is simply a perception others have of you. Marketers can influence these perceptions but not control them. It’s not the marketing department’s brand. Don’t just state it, live it.

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Time to get with the programmatic

The B2B Research Blog

Here’s my attempt at a bit of Derren Brown-esque trickery. If you’re a B2B marketer, annual planning is on your mind.  Events, email and content feature heavily.  Two fifths of your budget is allocated to digital channels.  How did I do? If I got close to the truth, it’s not clairvoyance but just educated guesswork.  In particular the B2B Barometer suggests that, on average, B2B marketers spend 39% of their budget on digital. Now, let me try again.  If online advertising is in your marketing plan, it’s not programmatic (i.e. But if it’s not part of your plan now, it soon will be. 

Staffing and Launching Your Content Marketing Program

Brand voice? Editorial calendar? Approval workflow? Learn how to craft the crucial parts of a content marketing program. In the third installment of our five-part playbook series, discover the necessary steps to execute a content marketing program.

Tips for B2B customer satisfaction research

The B2B Research Blog

Customers are your lifeblood. But it’s tough to actively manage these relationships unless you understand how they feel about you. That’s why every B2B business needs a programme of regular customer satisfaction research. Take care though.  Get it wrong and you can actually make things a whole lot worse… Relationships matter.  Don’t try and bypass those who ‘own’ the customer relationship within your organisation. Gain their support for the research first, or they and customers may react negatively.  Reflect your business.  Spend more time with major accounts.  React in real-time. 

Insights from the B2B Barometer

The B2B Research Blog

The B2B Barometer explores economic confidence and spending patterns amongst B2B marketers.  Launched 5 years ago in 2009 and now representing the view of B2B marketers with a collective spend of £95 million, it is the industry’s state-of-the-nation study.  I’d like to share a few of the study’s key findings here. The B2B Barometer is published by Circle Research , the BMC and the IDM. 

The 19 B2B brands in the Klout 50 ranking

The B2B Research Blog

There used to be a debate about whether social media was relevant in B2B. Just four years ago, less than one quarter (23%) of B2B marketers described it as ‘highly relevant’ to their brand (source: B2B Barometer ). Now, those holding out against the social tidal wave are few and far between. Indeed, many B2B brands are social media pioneers. Lithium Technologies ’ recently published Klout 50 study is testament to this. The study ranks the 50 most influential brands on social media. As you’d expect the list includes big-hitters from the consumer world. Brands like Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Nike.

The secrets of employee motivation

The B2B Research Blog

In her latest blog for Quirk’s Marketing Research Review , Circle Research’s HR lead Beth Pearson explores how an agency can best nurture and retain talent…. Research is a people business. Our raw materials are the opinions of respondents. Our product is the insight extracted from these raw materials by clever folk. And an agency or client-side researcher can only make a difference if they’re skilled at building relationships with key stakeholders. This all means that attracting, developing and motivating top talent is critical to our industry’s future. What’s the secret?

Marketing Optimization Toolkit: The Science behind Marketing Analytics

Marketers are well-versed in the art and science of optimization.

Top ten B2B marketing challenges

The B2B Research Blog

Holger Schulze, Marketing Director at SafeNet, recently posted a great question to the 9,040 members of LinkedIn’s B2B Marketing group. Can you use ONE WORD to describe the biggest challenge facing B2B Marketing today?”. love this question for two reasons.  One, it forces a focussed answer.  Given the volume of opinion I thought I’d help the digestion process by creating a word cloud.  Relevance.

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B2B social media – a two horse race?

The B2B Research Blog

Social media is time consuming.  The average B2B marketing department spends 17% of their time on it. And if you believe in the wisdom of crowds (or self-fulfilling prophecies) then the latest B2B Social Media Benchmark report reveals where you’re likely to get the best return on this effort. It seems that social media, in B2B at least, is a two horse race. In 2013 Twitter had the lead by a nose. 

The seven R’s of thought leadership

The B2B Research Blog

Thought leadership.  Everyone’s claiming it but, by very definition, only a handful ever delivers.  So how do you ensure that your content marketing strategy positions you as one of the few? . Follow the seven R’s – Resonant, Rare, Road Mapped, Robust, Rounded, Rooted and Re-used. Five reasons to develop a thought leadership strategy. B2B marketing has always been better suited to engagement over broadcast.  Those consistently doing so and coupling it with solid advice or lateral thinking become known as thought leaders. It’s a valuable moniker for many reasons: It sets you apart. 

A blueprint for customer service excellence

The B2B Research Blog

Relationships matter in B2B.  But for many B2B businesses it’s simply not commercially viable to individually account manage each customer.  This means that when issues arise, customers need to be directed to ‘mass service’ channels – usually a contact centre. I’ve recently spent a lot of time with Vodafone exploring what great customer service looks like.  The results of the study have been published in full as part of their Perspective thought leadership series, but in a nutshell here’s a blueprint for excellent customer service. It minimises the effort the customer needs to put in.

Content Marketing Playbook: Strategy and Roadmap

Every brand’s content roadmap is different; each path to success is unique to that brand’s story, perspective, assets, and goals. But there is an overarching approach that’s proven to work—one we’ve refined after helping hundreds of brands reach their content marketing goals and after speaking with some of the brightest minds in the industry.

Shape the B2B Barometer

The B2B Research Blog

The B2B Barometer has been a consistent feature of the B2B landscape since 2009.  Now it’s evolving and you can shape its future. The B2B Barometer was designed as a ‘state of the nation’ study.  At a macro-level this gives a measure of our industry’s health and reveals key trends.  At a micro-level it gives you a sense of how your approach to marketing compares to that of your peers. To do so the B2B Barometer uses an online survey to ask client-side B2B marketers eight questions: How confident are they in their organisation’s economic outlook? What are their most important marketing goals?

Report: The Ambitious SME

The B2B Research Blog

SME businesses are a passion of mine.  I founded one (Circle!) and as a B2B specialist I regularly explore the opinions and behaviours of SMEs. But before I go on, let’s be careful with that label of ‘SME’. Even if we exclude sole traders, there are still more than one million SMEs in the UK alone. Inevitably with a group of that size, there’s a lot of diversity – different attitudes, behaviours, needs and opinions. That said, there is something which in my experience is common to most SMEs – ambition. Sure, some SMEs are lifestyle businesses set up to enable a particular way of living.

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The secrets of successful B2B marketing

The B2B Research Blog

What’s the secret to successful marketing?  A recent survey by B2B Marketing and Circle Research asked 104 client-side B2B marketers that very question – ‘what would you say are the key elements to successful B2B marketing?’.  They were given free rein to answer however they wanted and an analysis of these responses reveals five themes. First, marketing needs to have a strategic vision.  It needs to be based on a clear understanding of its purpose and what it ultimately wants to achieve – its raison d’etre.  Based on deep insights into customers – their motivations, needs and behaviours.

Why is B2B market research the poor cousin?

The B2B Research Blog

In his latest blog for the Market Research Society’s news and insight hub Research Live , Circle Research’s Andrew Dalglish explores why business-to-business companies need research just as much as consumer-facing ones…. The research industry is full of dichotomies: qualitative and quantitative; domestic and international; B2C and B2B. There’s no value judgement within these pairings. Each Each side of the coin meets a different need and requires a different skill set. However, However, while there might not be a conceptual value judgement, there is a commercial one. 

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B2B Marketing Trends for 2016

25 B2B marketing thought leaders answer the question "What do you expect to B2B marketers to be doing more of or differently in 2016?" The results are amazing insights around content marketing, achieving business results, alignment, employee advocacy, new technologies, customer experience and more.

Getting to the top of the marketing tree

The B2B Research Blog

To provide fuel for debate at B2B Marketing’s Leaders Forum, Circle Research recently surveyed 100 senior B2B marketers.  Between them they control budgets worth £188 million. There was one particular question which had me on the edge of my seat:  What attributes does a successful B2B marketer have? I was excited because those answering the question were marketing leaders in some of the UK’s largest B2B companies.  In other words, people perfectly placed to provide a blueprint which aspiring marketing leaders can follow. They have a particular mindset and thinking style.