How to Research B2B Target Audience & Dominate Your Market

Discover key B2B target audience research strategies to boost your market dominance. Learn from expert tips on competitor analysis, VoC, and more.

How to research B2B target audience

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Short answer

How do I research my B2B target audience?

  1. Conduct a competitor analysis
  2. Conduct a Voice-of-Customer analysis (VoC)
  3. Carry out social listening
  4. Conduct user surveys
  5. Conduct customer interviews
  6. Define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
  7. Define your buyer personas
  8. Define your Job-to-be-done stories
  9. Create a clear unique value proposition (UVP)
  10. Stay updated on current industry trends

Read on to see each step in depth.

Why most companies don’t conduct audience research, and why this is dangerous

B2B selling often happens within niche industries with specialized needs and involves multiple stakeholders.

However, because of their small size and specialization, data on target B2B audiences is hard to come by.

That’s why a lot of B2B businesses throw everything at their audience and hope something sticks.

The problem is - operating without proper target audience research means running the risk of going after the wrong people, offering the wrong value propositions, and creating the wrong content.

Sooner rather than later, that risk will turn into reality, and your business will grind to a halt.

But I’m here to help you gain a comprehensive understanding of your audience so that you’re better equipped to tailor your products, services, and marketing efforts to meet the unique needs of your B2B target market.

Let me take you through a series of strategies and techniques used by top B2B marketers and firms to get results you could only dream of (until now).

Why is B2B target audience research important?

B2B target audience research empowers businesses to

  • create better products,

  • engage and impact audiences

  • gain competitive advantage,

  • adapt to market changes, and

  • ensure customer satisfaction.

Unlike B2C audience research, B2B audience research has to account for complex business cycles, long-drawn buying processes, and the limited availability of data.

Gathering accurate and fresh B2B audience data consumes comparatively more time and resources, but if done right, it enables B2B sales and enhances marketing ROI by delivering relevant messaging to the right audience.

Who should do B2B target audience research?

Generally speaking? Everyone.

Everyone who wants to win in their market should do B2B target audience research. You can’t provide the best value if you don’t deeply understand your audience’s needs, desired outcomes, and the context in which they require your product or service.

Importantly, B2B marketing material pushes audiences towards significant, and consequently risky, changes to their operations.

If you want to convince a business to invest in AI, digitize and automate operations, or do away with an entire department, you’re going to need all the leverage you can get.

That said, if your B2B target market is very broad, say you’re in the office supplies business, or offer a collaboration tool like Microsoft Teams or Slack, you’d be better off investing these resources elsewhere.

How to research your B2B target audience

B2B SaaS audiences are a tough nut to crack. They exist almost exclusively in silos, and take forever to come on board.

Your best bet to convert them into paying customers is by reading their mind. Not by magic, but through meticulous research.

When choosing the right platform for your marketing efforts, consider factors like Braze vs Salesforce to ensure you're utilizing the most effective tools for your strategy.

Here are all the different ways to do it:

1) Conduct a competitor analysis

Competitor analysis is a practice that involves studying your competitors’ target audiences, understanding why they target audiences differently, and identifying strategic shifts or profitable niches.

The goal of doing competitor analysis is to decide if you'll compete for the same segments or exploit market gaps. Assess unique value propositions to differentiate your offerings.

How to conduct competitor analysis?

Identify competitors and analyze their online presence. Explore best-performing pages, customer reviews, and case studies. Engage in social media monitoring to track audience interactions.

Key questions to ask:

  • Who is their audience?

  • How do they reach them?

  • What differentiates their offer from yours?

  • What are their customers’ key complaints?

Tools like SimilarWeb and Ahrefs help you understand your competitors’ SEO strategies and the audience they attract.

You can also discover your competitors’ users through reviews they’ve left online. Plot their demographic data to gain insights into their buying behavior.

2) Conduct a Voice-of-Customer analysis (VoC)

VoC analysis involves gathering feedback from customers to understand the emotions and sentiments driving customer actions.

You then take and apply the words your audience uses to express their emotions, needs, and sentiments in your marketing content to resonate with them and drive conversions.

How is VoC research conducted?

  • Follow review platforms and collect what customers say about the products in your niche (see sites like G2, TrustPilot, Capterra, etc.)

  • Install customer listening posts at every touchpoint – from awareness and nurturing to after-sales support and accounting.

  • Gather feedback through surveys, net promoter scores, and customer support interactions by reps as well as chatbots.

  • Host focus groups, analyze website heat maps, and conduct in-person surveys at physical points of sale to cover different segments.

3) Carry out social listening

Social listening is the act of listening to what your audience is saying on social media about your industry, product category, and brand, to inform your marketing strategy.

It also covers social monitoring – tracking brand mentions to stay on top of customer complaints and influencer endorsements.

How is social listening done?

  • Identify and analyze relevant online communities where your B2B target market congregates. These could be LinkedIn and Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and Quora Communities.

  • Divide your social listening goals into distinct categories, aligning them with your overarching business objectives. For instance, if your goal is product improvement, focus on mining keywords related to customer feedback and preferences.

  • Immerse yourself in the spaces where your Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) are active. Take note of the topics they discuss, their challenges, frequently debated subjects, goals, and preferred communication mediums.

4) Conduct user surveys

User surveys allow you to directly engage with B2B target groups. You can evaluate and validate user opinions, and make more informed decisions on marketing channels, messaging, and tone.

How to conduct user surveys?

I. Decide who to ask

Survey customers (customer satisfaction scores) or non-customers (why they picked a competitor) depending on the survey goals.

II. Decide when to ask

Consider conducting surveys

  • during a brand overhaul,

  • after launching a new product or feature,

  • during customer retention efforts, or

  • following an advertising campaign.

III. Decide what to ask

Ask questions that provide actionable insights such as:

  • Do you like the design/new product feature?

  • Do you find it easy to navigate?

  • Were you able to solve your problem/find the information you were looking for?

  • Did you have any problems with the purchase?

IV. Find a user survey tool that offers omnichannel feedback options

Integrate it with your CRM, website, in-app, social media, email, and WhatsApp – wherever your audience is.

V. Incorporate surveys into communication channels

You can set up in app surveys, as part of onboarding new customers or when (sadly) they decide to leave you.

You can also set up email sequences triggered by key actions to send out customer satisfaction surveys right when your clients experience first value.

But getting feedback is tricky, so we recommend you automate 1 or 2 follow-ups through cold email software to maximize your chances of securing a response. software

But avoid scheduling so many that your customers feel pressured to participate.

5) Conduct customer interviews

Customer interviews are one-on-one interactions suited to situations requiring qualitative and in-depth information. Ideally, they go hand-in-hand with more quantitative research methods like surveys.

How to do customer interviews?

I. Identify goals

Clarify the objective –

  • Are you looking for an angle for product differentiation?

  • Do you want to understand what's causing churn?

  • Read competitor case studies to examine which angles they’re pursuing.

II. Select participants

Do you want to talk to:

  • Happy buyers

  • Prospects that went with a competing offer

  • Prospects that churned?

If you’re emailing them, find email addresses that are up-to-date to increase the success of your outreach. email finder software

Before sending the emails, make sure to do email verification to avoid email bounces and deliverability issues that will negatively impact the success of your outreach campaigns.

If you’re contacting them on social media, check their bio and employment information to ensure you’ve got the right person.

III. Ask questions

Keep questions open-ended and free from bias. This isn’t a survey or a testimonial form. Be prepared to go off script. You want to discover the ‘why’ behind their motivation, not plot their answer on a bar graph.

IV. Make the interviewee comfortable

When inviting them, use phrases like ‘chat with us’ instead of ‘answer our questions’ or ‘give an interview'.

6) Define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

An ICP defines the perfect customer for a product or service, as it aligns with business goals, using demographic, firmographic, and behavioral characteristics.

ICPs are defined based on firmographics like:

  • industry

  • company size

  • department size

  • location

  • revenue

  • budget

ICPs are defined based on demographics like:

  • job titles

  • age groups

  • education

  • interests

  • pain points

  • ideal outcomes

An Ideal Customer Profile is different from a buyer persona. Buyer personas are character sketches of the archetype people you want to sell to, and they delve into individual details.

How to define your ICP?

The primary source for creating B2B target audience profiles is existing customer data. Identify patterns and common features between your biggest, best, most satisfied, and returning/long-term customers.

Don't confine yourself to absolutes. ICPs are only meant to guide and direct outbound efforts, not restrain market exploration.

Learn how to use Sales Navigator and its advanced filters to validate your ICP criteria with real live data.

7) Define your buyer personas

Buyer personas help you to tailor your content and messaging to an archetype person like Zoe from Sales, who works from home three days a week, wants more seamless collaboration with her team, posts frequently on Twitter, and loves dogs.

As opposed to your ICP which defines your outreach targets or inbound MQLs as packaging manufacturers with 50-100 employees in the Midwest.

Customer personas are normally presented internally using a presentation or infographic representing all the different information and data relevant to each persona.

Below is an example of a customer persona slide made with Storydoc:

Customer persona slide example

Because it is more granular, there is comparatively more guesswork involved.

How to create buyer personas?

Identify key players and decision-makers within your target audience and develop personas representing their diverse goals and intentions.

Each persona has different goals or intentions on what they hope to achieve with your product.

Differentiate and categorize a range of motivations, behaviors, and contextual situations your sales reps will deal with.

8) Define your Job-to-be-done (JTBD) stories

Focusing on current customers and their current choices can result in a myopic view of your target audience.

The job-to-be-done framework broadens that view and forces you to think of your offering in terms of ‘the job it does’.

Instead of attaching meaning to an industry or position, JTBD focuses on jobs or tasks, i.e., the functional needs, that your customers need help fulfilling.

How to create JTBD stories?

I. Identify core needs

Determine the functional, and possibly emotional and social, needs your product fulfills.

II. Map customer journeys

Trace the customer journey from facing a problem to resolving it with your product.

III. Craft compelling stories

Start by setting the scene, detailing the customer's situation and the challenges they faced. Introduce your product as the solution to overcome these hurdles. Highlight the end results achieved through the use of your product.

IV. Focus on outcomes

Emphasize customer outcomes rather than product features. Ditch technical jargon to appeal to the masses.

9) Create a clear unique value proposition (UVP)

A UVP defines what sets your business apart from competitors and communicates the unique benefits your product or service offers to your target audience.

Without a UVP, you’ll be stuck competing on price, an unsustainable endeavor for any business.

How to write a UVP?

Your UVP should convey the following:

  • What does your product do? Are you offering accounting software, content management services, or logistics support? Clarity and conciseness should be your top priority here.

  • Who is it for? You can create multiple value propositions, one for each beneficiary, decision-maker, and category entry point.

  • What makes it better? Talk about your most compelling benefits, and how they'll change your customer's life.

Here’s an example of how Darktrace, a cybersecurity provider, establishes its value prop.

Darktrace Unique Value Proposition

It lists benefits (not features disguised as benefits) their customers can expect. These can be modified in line with product changes and industry demands.

A/B test homepages, ads, and campaigns to see which proposition resonates most with audiences. It'll show you how your customers perceive value so that you can convince them no one delivers more of it than you.

10) Stay updated on current industry trends

B2B buying is a complicated process. Add to it the rapid pace of change most sectors are seeing because of AI and global events, and it becomes vital to keep your ear to the ground at all times.

Keyword research offers an interesting way to do that.

Here are some services you can use – MOZ, SEMRush, and Backlinko all offer freemium tools. But whether or not you’re using them, Google Alerts offers a world of timely insights for zero charge.

Go to the Google Alerts page and set up alerts for industry-specific terms and technical jargon.

Add your competitors to the list of tracked searches to know which keywords they’re publishing content on.

You can control how often you’re alerted, the websites to track, the location and languages of the users, etc.

Use industry news and hot topics in your messaging to stay relevant and capture attention.

Industry influencers also act as a barometer for market shifts. Analyze their content to understand what’s top-of-mind for your audience.


Whether you're launching a new product, refining your marketing approach, or seeking to expand your client base, you’ll be flying blind unless you back up decisions with B2B audience and market research.

From competitor analysis to voice-of-customer research and defining your ideal customer profile, we’ve covered multiple ways to do B2B target market analysis.

Remember, this isn’t a one-time experiment, but an ongoing commitment you’ll have to make to close the gap between what you think your audience wants, and what they actually want.

Antonio Gabrić

Antonio is an outreach manager at Hunter. For the last three years, he’s been helping SaaS companies grow their organic traffic and revenue through link building. At Hunter, Antonio is leading a link-building and outreach team to build backlinks that move the needle and connect with industry leaders. To get in touch and follow his experiments, say hi on LinkedIn.

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