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Research rethink: How qualitative research can power your marketing

For the over-stretched, under-resourced B2B marketer, it’s a familiar feeling. You’re looking for your next relevant, compelling, and effective campaign or content idea, but you’ve hit a roadblock. Nothing feels fresh or distinctive. You feel like you’re going around in circles. Deadlines are approaching.

This is where research – particularly qualitative research – comes into its own as an engine for ideas. It’s exploratory in nature, with the bulk of the discussion led by the respondent, prompted by the interviewer. This organic development of a topic sparks fresh ideas which you can explore further, taking you on a journey of discovery. You can uncover new perspectives, different pain points or additional focus areas which weren’t obvious before. Used in this way, research insights become a powerful tool which you can harness to bring your content and campaigns to life.

To demonstrate this approach with a real-life example, we called upon our Vanson Bourne CommunITy, exploring the regular discussion threads that members take part in on all things tech related. In amongst all the valuable qualitative insights, one respondent’s answer caught our eye. We used that as the basis for a wider piece of quantitative research, which in turn sparked further insight and discussion among our CommunITy.

Uncovering new ideas, connecting the dots, cutting through the noise – in this article, we explore how qual helps.

Uncovering ideas with qual: tech recruitment challenges in organisations

There’s no two ways about it: recruitment continues to be challenging for organisations. Hybrid working has become a norm, and this stands to both help and hinder organisations’ efforts to recruit top talent. Is your organisation doing enough to promote itself to potential candidates?

The idea for this blog was sparked from one qualitative response we received via our Vanson Bourne CommunITy discussion boards:


“Aside from the new challenges relating to working from home, which has been partially offset by the opportunities to recruit across national borders with cloud-based staff, a longer term issue within the B2B industry I work in is that there are simply not enough people to recruit for some very specialised and technical roles. The types of people required are highly qualified and both the companies in my industry and their clients are recruiting from the same talent pool. Depending on the industry this can mean competing against organisations with some very deep pockets”

~ Business Decision Maker, Business or Professional Services Sector


The ability to offer hybrid working broadens the recruitment pool for organisations. However, it also broadens the number of opportunities that are available to candidates, cancelling out any potential benefits. Organisations are back to trying to compete “against organisations with some very deep pockets”. This led us to think “well, how important is monetary compensation compared to areas like work life balance or culture etc.” So we, as keen researchers, went and found out!

We interviewed 142 IT decision makers to find out how important these areas would be to them, if or when they were looking for a new job. The results spoke for themselves:

Work life balance was by far the area which respondents felt was crucial to them – 1.5x more likely to be reported than salary and monetary benefits.

While monetary compensation is important, the workforce is placing greater emphasis on how a job impacts their broader life. They seek roles that support their overall life goals and well-being, not just their financial needs.

Connecting the dots from quant to qual: back to the discussion board

As organisations enter into battle over top talent, we wanted to dig deeper and understand from respondents:

  • If they feel that their organisation does enough to promote itself as an employer
  • In what other ways do they feel their organisation could attract talent

We decided to go back to our discussion boards and ask respondents for their thoughts. Shifting back to qualitative research sparked great conversation between several our CommunITy members:

Overall respondents felt that their organisation does do a good job of promoting themselves, with one commenting that there is a push towards the “whole package” rather than just the “normal salaries or remuneration offering”. However, some admit that giving more details about the hybrid working package could help to attract more talent. This is clearly an area that is important for potential new hires.

In summary

Digging into this topic via our CommunITy discussion boards and supporting these insights with quantitative data helped us to shine a light on just one challenge facing organisations today. This dual methodology offers huge value. It showcases how using different research methodologies and approaches helps identify and then expand an original idea into several streams to uncover. All making for insights that can help craft more compelling and distinctive marketing content and campaigns.

If you’ve hit a wall with your approach or are just looking for exciting new angles for a specific topic, contact us to find out how using qualitative research as an ideas engine can power your marketing efforts.