What Are the Best Ways to Learn What Your B2B Audience Is Into These Days?

October 6, 2019

B2B audience

Let’s get ready to RESEARRRRCH!

That doesn’t sound quite right, does it? Some of us may get super excited upon hearing “research,” but for many of us, the term conjures up memories of term papers we didn’t want to write, and exams we didn’t want to take. 

We’re marketers. We rebrand things. Perhaps it’s time to start referring to audience research as something more fun and exciting, like “audience exploration” or “audience discovery.” After all, learning new things about the people we need to please can be quite fun, especially when it leads to exciting content ideas. And research is good for us – successful marketers are 242% more likely to say they conduct audience research at least quarterly

So call audience research what you will, but next time you get around to it, consider these top ways to learn what your B2B audience is interested in. 

Top Ways for B2B Marketers to Explore Their Audience’s Interests

BuzzSumo

Like many of the tools listed here, BuzzSumo is tricky to summarize succinctly because it’s helpful in so many ways. As for understanding your audience, use BuzzSumo to search priority keywords or topics and you’ll quickly discover which content your audience is most likely to be reading and sharing at any given time. Using this data, you might decide that it makes sense to add your perspective to a trending conversation, or create content that helps your audience understand why contrasting viewpoints exist on an issue. 

Perform that same search from the influencer tab and you’ll see a list of authoritative people and companies who’ve shared content on that topic. You can also click the “view links shared” to see exactly what they’ve shared. Partnering with influencers who have earned the attention of your audience is a proven way to expand your brand’s presence among the right people. BuzzSumo offers a convenient way for B2B marketers to pinpoint content collaboration and amplification opportunities that otherwise may be tricky to spot. 

Did your BuzzSumo search yield irrelevant results? Try clicking the “only B2B publishers” checkbox to declutter your results page. 

Answer the Public

There are loads of keyword research tools. What makes Answer the Public unique – aside from that bald, bearded man in the thickest sweater you’ve ever seen – are the expansive lists of questions, prepositions, and comparisons that relate to your keyword. If that’s not enough, you also get an alphabetized list of long-tail keywords that may be of interest to you. 

Answer the public is particularly helpful if you’ve thoroughly covered a topic and are struggling to come up with new angles or ideas. 

LinkedIn Hashtags

Commonly used for content amplification, LinkedIn hashtags are also an ideal avenue for B2B audience discovery. Whereas tools like BuzzSumo show you which content is trending, LinkedIn hashtags reveal the social conversations taking place concerning a specific topic. By searching or clicking a hashtag, you’ll see which content is being shared, by whom, what they’re saying about it, and what others are saying about it.

Even more so than topic discovery, reading through real-life conversations can empower you to truly plug into your audience’s world. Not sure where to get started? Here’s a list of LinkedIn hashtags to consider. 

Quora

Community-driven question-and-answer site Quora has quickly become one of the internet’s most popular destinations for wisdom on every topic imaginable. The beauty of Quora is that anyone can pose a question and anyone can answer. The answers that get seen are those which have been upvoted by the community, and it’s the wisdom-seekers who benefit most from the platform’s meritocratic structure. 

There are several ways for marketers to make good use of Quora. Where audience research is concerned, Quora’s search function is a good place to start. Again here, search using your priority topics and keywords to see which questions pop up. You can get a good idea of how interested your audience is by seeing how many answers and followers each question has. If a question has a lot of followers, that usually means it’s a popular topic, but it can also mean that people are following the question because they’re hoping for a better answer, signaling an opportunity to resolve their curiosity within the platform, with new content, or maybe both. 

Perusing through answers to relevant questions might also prove helpful in multiple ways. First, the answers can help you identify influencers and items of reference for future content considerations. Second, your audience is essentially telling you how they prefer to receive information. By looking for commonalities among featured answers and seeing which types of answers failed to get traction, you can adjust your content structure accordingly. If a particular question is receiving a plethora of interesting answers, simply follow the question to receive automatic alerts. 

Lastly, perhaps the best way to use Quora for audience research is to do exactly what it’s designed for: ask a question. If you’re curious to know what your audience thinks about anything, and no one’s posed the question yet, ask away and see what comes back. 

Conversation

An underutilized oldie, conversations with members of the sales and support team often unearth the most actionable audience insights available. Your sales and support team maintain a direct line with everyone from leads at the beginning of the buying process to customers who are trying to maximize your solution’s role in solving their day-to-day dilemmas. Moreover, these are your company’s leads and customers. By opening a dialogue with sales and support, you suddenly gain premiere access to detailed scenarios, thoughts, and feelings that simply can’t be found from a search bar. 

What to do with all your newfound audience knowledge? Well, new content possibilities throughout the funnel are a common byproduct of this exercise, and those are always fun. But another, often-overlooked benefit of audience exploration is discovering new ways to connect with your prospects and customers. Each nugget of wisdom potentially unlocks a new targeting strategy with which you can reach the right people with the right message. 

LinkedIn’s Interest Targeting makes this easy by allowing you to serve relevant ads and content to members who’ve demonstrated a desire for the topic. In other words, if you’re trying to build brand awareness and authority surrounding a topic, you can serve your content to the people who are most likely to check it out and share it with their networks. 

We like to perform and share our own audience research — er, exploration — as well. Subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Blog and we’ll send it straight to your inbox, along with the rest of our expert tips and advice for succeeding at B2B marketing. 

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