B2B Audiences: An Accessible Research Approach for an Elusive Crowd

Insight Frameworks / by Alex Lawson on May 26, 2021

B2B Audiences: An Accessible Research Approach for an Elusive Crowd

4 minute read

B2B is a three-letter acronym, but it can feel like a four-letter word in most research platforms.


Most services focus on B2C audiences because those signals are easier to extract for meaningful insights. But if you use a tool that allows you to build proxy audiences, like Helixa, those audiences become much more accessible.


Our clients use our flexible query builder every day to solve B2B problems, drawing from attributes like occupation, household income, and related interests.


To show you what I mean, I’m going to run an analysis that assumes we’re hosting a conference for IT managers and executives. I’ll take you through my process for building, validating, and exploring the audience in question. 


By the end, you’ll walk away with some key insights and a framework to use moving forward.


Start with what you know


When building any proxy audience, you always want to start with your baseline information — what do you already know about your audience? The baseline is your starting point for the testing that determines whether you might want to narrow or expand your query. 


For the IT audience in our example, I could approach the query in a few different ways: try to key in on a specific magazine that this group would read, or focus on the category as a whole. 


In this case, I’m going to build a query from people who work in IT and read computer magazines or business news sites. By opening up the query and including business news sites, I can capture a broader audience and include more managers and executives.


To isolate those higher earners, I added an income constraint that excludes people making less than $100,000 from the audience. 


Building an IT audience for B2B blog


Validate your audience before moving forward


Once I run my proxy audience, I want to check a few key attributes to make sure I’m on the right track.


Education level is a key consideration for this audience, as IT professionals require a higher education degree for their trade. Looking at the demographics report, I can see that 79 percent of my audience has either a college or graduate school degree. This validates what I know about my audience, but I still want to check one more thing.


While new tech hubs are emerging and growing rapidly across the US, the largest and most established are located in the Bay Area and New York City. Therefore, I should expect to see a significant amount of my audience living in California or the Tri-State Area (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) at a higher rate than the US average. With 22 percent in California and 16 percent in the Tri-State Area, I feel even more confident about this audience.


Map of IT Professionals for B2B Blog

This validation step is important to perform before moving on. It will ensure your insights are sound and give you something to point to if you need to build your team’s confidence in the data.


Meet your audience where they are


Now that we have verified that our audience in Helixa lines up with the type of person we want to attend our fictional IT conference, we can start figuring out how we can reach them most effectively.


(Editor’s note: Because we included business news sites and computer magazines in our initial search, the results will be skewed towards those two categories. As a result, we won’t include them here, but it could be useful to see which specific outlets rise to the top in these categories.)


The first thing I notice is that 78% of my audience is engaging with newspapers, which is 1.45 times higher than the U.S. average. As this category contains both large national papers and smaller local papers, I dove deeper and found that major papers are the way to go.


Over 50 percent of our audience engages with The New York Times and The Washington Post, and they have a high affinity for The Wall Street Journal. Large, regional newspapers like The Los Angeles Times can also work, especially if you advertise in the areas where our audience lives and works. 


Top Newspapers by Reach for B2B Blog

Additionally, almost three-quarters of our audience is engaging with shows in the radio and podcast categories. Given the wide range of different topics, I want to narrow it down to a few genres that could yield potential advertising partners. The genres that overlap between the two categories are sports and politics, so those are the categories I would explore further to find some top programming for this group.


A different approach for podcast discovery — and a very popular tool for our clients — is the influencer view. Stacey Vanek Smith, who works at NPR on its Planet Money podcast, is a favorite of this audience, drawing them in at 5.79 times the U.S. average. Asma Khalid is a popular NPR Politics podcaster among our audience, with an affinity of 3.06 times the U.S. average. 


These influencers could help us understand more about the interests of our audience and also with potentially finding new opportunities to extend our reach to others interested in our fictional conference.  


Insights for every team at your organization


While Helixa is invaluable for understanding how to reach your audience, that is far from the only way to use our insights. In fact, there are many insights in our platform that could help us plan the actual conference.


Just as we used the influencer view to discover podcasts for advertising, we could also explore options for potential speakers. Our IT audience engages most with influencers who deal with investment and entrepreneurship, at 2.12x and 1.61x respectively, so these categories could be promising. Demis Hassabis is a stellar example of a possible keynote, garnering an affinity score of 14.07x.


If we were on the conference logistics team, we could also use Helixa to discover ideal hotel and airline partners and even potential food options. 


Four Seasons and Hilton top the hotel list and JetBlue and American Airlines win out among the airlines. When looking at this audience’s favorite food, the only option they over-index for is fine dining. So, we may want to scale up the quality of the offered meals and build the cost into the ticket price.


A holistic view of B2B audiences


With Helixa’s flexibility and deep database, we were able to find several actionable insights in about 30 minutes.


Now, we know who to potentially partner with, who to book for our conference, and how to reach prospective attendees once everything is set in motion. 


These insights provide a lot of direction, and they only scratch the surface of what can be discovered in our platform. With a creative approach and more time, we can find so much more.


If you’re interested in learning more about how Helixa’s proxy audiences can be used to understand and reach your B2B audiences, schedule 15 minutes for a demo. It’s that fast.


alexAlex is a Senior Research Analyst at Helixa, where he leverages his analytics background to help clients discover and interpret surprising insights. In his free time, he can often be found trying to locate All-Dressed chips or training his phone to stop removing the letter "u" from words.


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