With consumers these days growing extremely comfortable with digital channels and online buying experiences, B2B marketers are evaluating how their strategies fit into this new world. 

Perhaps the most jarring aspect of this behavioral change has been reduced reliance on analyst research reports. A 2020 report by TrustRadius indicates that just 21% of B2B buyers rely on analyst reports.

Gartner's Magic Quadrant reports are an eagerly awaited and prestigious release every year. However, with the reduced reliance on research reports and increased trust placed on peer review platforms, are Gartner's reports even relevant anymore? The truth is that there isn't a clear yes or no answer. 

Examining the facts through three key aspects of the B2B buyer's decision journey is instructive.

The Buyer's Journey

Business buyer journeys are getting more complex. Blog posts and other content assets are important first touchpoints, but company websites, social media conversations, product mentions, trade shows, video and audio content and sponsorships all play a major role in grabbing a consumer's attention at first.

Trustworthiness is the most important factor that consumers look to evaluate throughout their journey.

To this end, TrustRadius's report mentions that buyers use a company's website and product pages to determine how trustworthy they are. Furthermore, 87% of buyers want a self-service journey and do not want sales rep or marketing interference.

Trustworthiness is the most important factor that consumers look to evaluate throughout their journey.

This means that marketers have to adopt a soft-touch approach while maintaining consistent messaging throughout your channels.

Research reports and analyst mentions might not entirely help establish trust in a consumer's mind, but they do provide social proof. When a brand lands a favourable mention in one of Gartner's Magic Quadrant reports, the result is instant validation that the company is a major player in their space. Your company's categorisation in its quadrant quickly helps establish your specialty and nature in a consumer's mind.

However, increasingly, business buyers are looking beyond these factors. A company that doesn't allow consumers to self-service their journey through product trials is going to find itself out in the cold. An analyst mention isn't going to do the trick all by itself. You need to provide as much value and information as possible before you ever meet their clients face to face.

Credibility and Reviews

TrustPilot's report singles out product reviews and review content as the most important part of a B2B consumer's buying decision. It also highlights a disconnect between what companies focus on and what consumers want. 

Most companies focus on their product's score instead of conversations around actual value and customer delight.

This is an important distinction to make. Secondary social conversation sites such as Twitter, Reddit and Quora offer tons of review content that users routinely review. These sites don't offer scores and can be ignored by B2B vendors. Review content performs the same function as a customer referral does, and this is why these secondary social websites are so powerful.

TrustRaidus's data highlights customer referrals as the most effective marketing tactic followed by personalized messages, online events and SEO. On the surface, it seems as if analyst reports have no major role to play in any of it. However, analyst mentions can augment many of these tactics. For example, a backlink from a high authority analyst website will boost your domain's authority considerably.

TrustRadius graph

Sponsoring a research firm's online thought leadership event is an instant way to get your brand in front of thousands of potential clients. While it doesn't convey credibility all by itself, it helps your company occupy mind space and is one block in a larger picture.

It prompts consumers to conduct further research into you, and as long as you back it up with marketing that provides value, you'll engage and delight consumers.

Impartially Assess Industry Impact 

Technology trends change quickly, and buyers often find themselves overwhelmed when tasked with keeping pace. Choosing a product that is behind its industry's direction could prove highly problematic, especially given that more sophisticated tech tools often involve extended onboarding processes and contractual lock-ins. 

Gartner's MQR paints a quick picture for consumers that they can then use to conduct further research.

Gartner's report classifies companies as leaders, visionaries, niche players, and challengers. Buyers can choose their preferred vendors based on the challenges they're facing. For example, an enterprise that needs an end to end solution might be better served by a leader instead of a niche player. However, if their need is concentrated, a niche player might be a better fit.


Analyst reports also offer insight into the trends an industry can expect moving forward. Whether consumers choose to listen to them or not, the fact is that these reports play a critical role in determining which trends consumers pay attention to. 

Positioning your product per these trends, with the characteristics of its relevant quadrant will raise your company's profile.

A Rounded Approach

The key as always is to adopt a well-rounded approach that supports your consumer's needs throughout their journey. Focusing solely on analyst reports, no matter how prestigious they are, is not a good strategy moving forward. Seek to provide value throughout the journey and avoid a PR-like approach at all costs.