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6 ways to find B2B research survey respondents

Author's avatar By Robert Jones 22 May, 2018
Essential Essential topic

The pain of finding B2B survey and user research respondents is real. Here are 6 solutions including free and paid services.

Finding relevant survey respondents for market research projects can be hard and the cost can be eye watering too, particularly if you're in a specialist B2B niche or you need senior respondents.

We all know that one of the hardest parts of doing any B2B research is often something which is undervalued- “getting respondents” and more importantly “getting the right respondents”. So you’re running a survey and it’s pretty niche, say you’re looking for B2B respondents purely for research rather than lead generation – where do you start? Where do you actually go for respondents? We’ve scoured the web and even given some of these a try, for our 6 ways to find B2B survey respondents.

Option 1: Google Consumer Surveys

It might be branded “consumer surveys” but they have lots of B2B publishers too. You can use segmentation and the tool will find marketers, SMB owners, freelancers etc. It’s also a self-service platform and with low costs (from just 10¢ a response). Google Consumer Surveys hosts all of the questions, it’s not possible just to send them a survey link. It’s a great tool to try if you’re looking for survey responses.

You can't use the tool to recruit for other types of research. However, you can use the tool to run B2B surveys.

Google Consumer Surveys on web page


You could try Survey Monkey, which works in a very similar way.

Option: 2 Cint

Cint is pretty great. It’s a self-serve tool that has revolutionised “survey sampling”. They don’t own a single panel, they partner with panels and sites that have big, engaged email lists to send your surveys to those users. You’ll need to host the survey and it will need to be on a platform that can work with custom redirects (such as Polldaddy). Prices depend on incidence rate and length of the survey. You cannot use this tool to recruit for external research though.

Cint Panel Book august 2016

Option: 3 Specialist panels

There are indeed specialist B2B panels, naturally incentives and therefore prices are higher than consumer panels. Examples include Atomik research and SSI which both have specialist B2B panels. These panels can be used to recruit B2B demographics for online surveys and other types of online research including user testing.

SSI B2B panel services

Option: 4 Recruiters

If you’re running a focus group, even an online focus group or want to do telephone interviews rather than online surveys, agencies like Saros, Rocket research and PeopleForResearch can find appropriate participants for you, prices depend on the number of participants, generally you’d need to pay incentives which typically need to be higher than consumer. There are agencies that can help you to produce focus group discussion guides and telephone interview questions, plus you can outsource moderation and interviewing too. Recruiters can recruit for online and offline research projects.

Option 5: Your own email list

You could always use your own email lists using freemium customer survey tools, but it might be worth considering panels if you’re looking to top up the numbers. Remember to try not to fatigue respondents with long surveys, this affects data quality and if you’re using your own list they might start to think differently about your business if you’re sending long surveys or lots of surveys. Sometimes the safer option and for the sake of fresh eyes and a different perspective, it’s best to use external tools and agencies, but if you're stuck for budget it's worth a go.

Option 6: Your own website 

You can use intercepts on your site to recruit people for research projects, ask them to complete a survey or collect some quick instant feedback.

Instant feedback polls like Hotjar can help you get fast, cheap and cheerful insights.

Hotjar website intercept

Survey intercepts have fairly low conversion rates but many websites still use survey intercepts to get survey respondents. Simply show users a link to a survey and explain what the survey is about as well as (importantly) how long the survey will take. Many user testing surveys request users opinion when they are about to leave the site.

You can use intercepts to recruit for user testing, tools like Ethnio are perfect for this.

What if you are looking to use surveys for lead generation from marketers?

In this case, consider partnering with us? If you're involved in promoting marketing services or marketing technology to decision makers we can deliver leads and create excellent quality research reports and infographics that will engage B2B audiences. We collect the data that excellent reports that inform and spread the word about your brand - see all Smart Insights Content Partnership Advertising options.

Which is the best approach?

It depends on your research, there are some projects you could run directly with your email lists, such as customer satisfaction or persona research but surveys and methods which are more suited to using specialist recruiters or research panels.

Author's avatar

By Robert Jones

Robert Jones is a specialist in CRO, UX Research, insight and digital Marketing. He is CRO Analyst at Enjoy Digital. He has a Psychology Masters of Research, has run large digital marketing campaigns to build research panels and worked in insight roles for Vision Critical, ASDA and WhatUsersDo. He also managed all of Smart Insights member resources and published several guides including "How to conduct Persona Research" as well as contributing over 100 blog posts to the Smart Insights blog. When he isn’t working on marketing campaigns he is most likely eating authentic Italian food or planning his next short trip. You can connect with Robert on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

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