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4 min

B2B qualitative research: how to incentivise B2B respondents

A guide on how to provide incentives to participants in B2B qualitative research

Oct 29, 2022
B2B market research


B2B Qualitative research is a key component of B2B digital marketing strategies. Let's define B2B qualitative research. In simple terms, qualitative research is the flip side of quantitative research. In some cases, qualitative research is better for B2B markets. Two reasons behind this are the B2B markets tend to be more complex and niche than B2C. Qualitative research helps to identify the issues that your target audience faces, and their potential solutions, which can inform future content development and campaign planning. In this article, we will explore how incentivising B2B respondents can increase engagement in B2B qualitative research. We'll also explore how qualitative research can ultimately lead to better insights for your business.

Research has shown that respondents in B2B qualitative research can be more difficult to incentivise

While it’s easy to assume that all B2C respondents are the same, this is not always the case.

B2B qualitative research can be more difficult in a number of ways:

  • Recruiting B2B respondents is tougher than B2C customers. B2C refers to consumers or end users of a product or service. Whereas, B2B refers to businesses that purchase these products or services from other businesses. Because these business customers are often larger and have more complex purchasing processes than consumers do, they may require more time and effort from your marketing team. This is done in order to recruit them better for your qualitative research project. Additionally, it can take longer for your team members to identify qualified respondents because there are numerous factors involved. These include verifying their profile, background, and location. 
  • Qualitative B2B research is also harder to conduct because the type of incentives that can be offered is limited. Majorly, qualitative B2B research uses cash incentives. One reason behind this could be that participants respond best to monetary incentives. In-kind incentives can also be offered, however, there are local laws to consider. Additionally, if your research is overseen by a particular institution, they can set restrictions on the type of response offered. 
  • Lastly, B2B respondents are fundamentally different from B2C. A recent HBR article shed some light on a study conducted by CEB that included more than 5000 stakeholders in the B2B buying journey. The study found that on average 5 buyers have to formally approve a purchase. Whereas, the b2c buying journey consists of far lesser numbers of buyers. 

In addition, once you've found those qualified participants and tried contacting them through various channels such as email campaigns or cold calling; many could ignore these messages entirely. This means that when you do reach out by phone call instead of emailing them directly; most will prefer an automated response system over talking with someone who might interrupt their workday flow (even if only briefly).

The main reason is that they are more difficult to recruit for B2B qualitative research

In addition to B2B respondents being harder to incentivise than their B2C counterparts, they present unique challenges. One of these challenges is that they are more difficult to recruit. This can be attributed to three main factors:

1) B2B respondents are harder to find because they tend not to have an active presence on social media platforms;

2) the amount of time a business has available for participation in research is often limited;

3) since many companies do not want their employees to participate in online surveys, it can be difficult to reach out directly.

In light of these obstacles, incentivising participants with cash rewards or other prizes might seem like a great idea. However, it may not actually help increase your sample size or boost response rates.

But is this always the case

No, it isn't. There are many different types of B2B qualitative research participants and some may be easier to incentivise than others. For example, if you are conducting an online focus group, then you would want your participants to be on a particular platform at a specific time. This is so that they can interact with each other and engage in discussions. In addition, this means that if they don’t show up as planned or don't participate in the way you expect them to, there will be no way for them to redeem their incentive until after the study has ended.

This doesn't mean that you should avoid using incentives for qualitative research, but rather that you need to consider the types of incentives that would work best for your project. For example, suppose you are conducting an online interview. In that case, you might want to offer participants a small amount of money in exchange for their time and participation in order to incentivise them.

What can you do to incentivise B2B respondents

When it comes to incentivising B2B respondents, it is crucial that you know who you are talking to and what drives them. This will help you understand what incentives may appeal to them. For example, if your target market is made up of young professionals who are looking for new opportunities in their career path, then offering something like a free ticket to an upcoming networking event might be more attractive than an Amazon voucher or Kindle eReader. However, let's say that the same group has children and they are looking for ways in which they can spend quality time with their families while also earning some extra cash on the side (e.g., through micro-jobs). In this case, offering gift cards or vouchers may be better suited for this purpose.

In general, it is best to keep your incentives simple. The more complex they are, the less likely people will be to respond. For example, offering a £50 Amazon voucher in exchange for filling out a survey might seem like a great idea at first glance; however, it can actually be quite off-putting for many respondents. They may view this as an inconvenience and simply not bother with completing the survey altogether.

You can also offer them the opportunity to win a prize or enter them into a competition. If you have an incentive that is relevant to your brand and what they are looking for, then you will find it easy to incentivise B2B respondents. This way, they don’t feel like it is work; rather, they can see it as an opportunity for them to get something for nothing (i.e., no obligation).

Incentivising B2B respondents may seem difficult but it isn't impossible

The key is to use a reward system that works for your brand and the respondent. The reward should be relevant to their business and what they are looking for in terms of information gathering, so don't forget to ask them what they would like as a reward and how they would like to be rewarded. The best way to incentivise B2B respondents is by offering them a reward that they will find valuable. This could be access to your product or service, but it might also be a discount on your product or service.


In sum, there are a few things you can do to incentivise B2B respondents. First, make sure that they’re a good fit for your study. Second, find out what motivates them and use that information to develop an appropriate incentive scheme. Third, follow up with the participants after they have completed their interviews because this will help ensure that they are satisfied with the experience. Additionally, it will make them more likely to participate again in future qualitative B2B research. 

If you're looking for more information on b2b qualitative research, we recently published an article on the same. The post titled 'What Is The Most Effective Way to Conduct B2B Qualitative Research' goes into everything you need to know about this type of research. If you're still curious, please drop us a line at sales@grape-data.com