B2B Marketers need cost-effective and timely insightful inputs to make informed decisions and evaluate key performance metrics. However reliability on industry/syndicated reports has its own pitfalls. In some scenarios building and operating your own proprietary B2B panel is advisable which has certain distinctive advantages over other data collection methodologies. Although there are some research challenges in accomplishing the said task primarily being the logistics of building and operating a successful B2B panel.
The limited number of target audience also poses serious threats in terms of attaining desired pool as the key decision makers are not readily accessible for conducting research studies.
However by following these simple steps the nightmares of operating a niche B2B specialty panel can be effectively dealt with:
1- Typically the B2B respondents are more challenging to recruit vis-à-vis a consumer panel. It is advisable to garner support from an established and more experienced partner for the task. Personally speaking where gen pops are easy to target from large web portals I have used niche websites or sources for a B2B audience.
2- The response rates for a B2B panel is historically been very low and hovering around 2% – 5% for a C-level audience. It implies that the marketer needs to recruit at least 3-4 times more than the actual requirement to compensate for the low RR, this becomes all the more critical for a re-contact study where the RR dips further down.
3- A B2B respondent is not excited by the prospect of getting monetary incentives (which anyways is meager!!). I have been primarily using “Information based incentives” like sharing a previously conducted similar project report highlights. Donation to a desired charity organization also tops as a lucrative carrot for B2B respondents plus subscriptions to industry leading business magazines or trade journals are also actively used.
4- “Survey Designing” is a topic where most of the researchers are CLUELESS!!!!. One needs to keep the surveys interesting and engrossing to hold a niche B2B respondent attention as mundane and repetitive questions can be excluded. Poorly designed studies are directly proportional to survey drop-out rates.
5- Treat your specialty panel as your client and not your vendor!!!. Dedicated helpline should be available to respond to any query or concern that the respondents might have. Always remember a committed panel respondent comes from happy and satisfied servicing.
6- Marketers should be well aware of the budgets as replenishment is regularly required to maintain healthy participation levels. A proper tracking system is required to check activity level of the respondents.
7- “Burning Panel” is a common habit of most of the online panel companies. In case of gen pop audience you can still get away with the murder but with a B2B panel it’s a KO!!! Typically a C-Level audience should not be contacted more than 6-8 times a year and the same instruction should be downloaded to the entire team.
8- Clear guidelines should be established as to the area of usage for the B2B panel as some departments/personals might be tempted to use the information for achieving organizational goals. The management should be taken into confidence before setting the rules of the game!!