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Unlocking Innovation: The Power of Diary Studies in B2B

Unlocking Innovation: The Power of Diary Studies in B2B

The key to unlocking insights is diary studies

Use cases for B2B businesses

Across industries, diary studies could catalyze innovation for many B2B companies. Here are a few examples of industry groups that could benefit from diary studies:

Manufacturing: Industrial equipment suppliers and manufacturers could gain insights into optimizing the customization journeys, supply-chain insights, and more. For example, a fabricator may notice that their customers are complaining about the time it takes to make a custom order. The B2B company may wield diary studies throughout an order on several clients to determine the bottlenecks that may be holding up the customization process. From a study like this, the company may find that an improved intake form and an app solution that shows status improve efficiency, customer satisfaction, and loyalty.

Finance: Financial institutions, like banks or credit unions, may want to analyze how particular clients are utilizing their services over an extended period. For example, a financial service may be looking to improve security and fraud protections, but they may have noticed that their clients have not enabled these features. A diary study could be the key to unlocking the reasons why clients may not be using features or products as expected. Further, diary studies may inform the company what they are doing instead, which may be the key to unlocking a truly innovative and intuitive feature.

The constraints of solely relying on quantitative metrics & surveys

Further, quantitative metrics alone are limited. You can only ask so much on a survey and in so many types of ways. Most surveys have four source errors:

  • Coverage error;
  • Sampling error;
  • Non-response error; and
  • Measurement error.

With these four source errors, the findings extracted from the data can be riddled with biases, lack of nuance, poor representation, misinterpreted questions, and much more.

To get the nuance needed to remain competitive and innovative, B2B companies must ensure that qualitative research methods like diary studies get investment. Through a mixed methods approach, B2B companies can uncover the “why” behind the data.

A text board that spells out Benefits

The benefits of a diary study

  • Contextual insights into the daily working lives of clients.
  • Identify key pain points among various customer segments.
  • An understanding of how and why goals may change.
  • A deeper sense of empathy that promotes tailored solutions and customer-centric approaches.
  • User-driven solutions instead of testing out features that users haven’t shown a need or desire for.

How to conduct a diary study for B2B companies

  • Define research aims: Researchers should outline the goals and objectives of the study. They should include stakeholders to determine the research questions and specific aspects of the intended exploration.
  • Select & Recruit Participants: Researchers should work with stakeholders to define the audience(s) that they intend to explore. From there, the researcher will be able to create a screener to qualify and track the characteristics of participants during the study. From there, the team may decide to use existing clients or to find their sample through professional networks and associations. Depending on the type of user needed, a B2B company may invest money into a user recruitment service.
  • Define study materials & logistics: Choose the format of how users will log their entries. Determine how often participants will be in the study and how often they are expected to log entries. Provide clear instructions and training to participants, and supply them with prompts and questions that they can use to help them log entries quickly without being afraid they aren’t saying the right things or doing the right thing.
  • Data Collection & Analysis: With remote diary studies, researchers can see and analyze entries in real-time. This allows them to modify the study as needed, and it allows them to notice gaps and notable insights as they arise. The researchers can then begin to draw out patterns trends and produce visual artifacts to help relay findings to the broader team.
  • Reporting & Implementation: After analysis, researchers should summarize findings, prescribe recommendations, and produce design implications that can be actioned upon and others that are logged as best practices or insight for the team to know. After translating insights into actionable strategies, the research team may uncover further testing opportunities through continuous iteration or a new problem space to explore.


The limitations of relying solely on quantitative metrics become apparent, as they often provide only a partial narrative and can be prone to biases and misinterpretations. A user-centered approach demands a mixed methods strategy, with qualitative research methods like diary studies playing a pivotal role in uncovering the ‘why’ behind the data. In essence, the diary study stands out as an essential methodology for B2B businesses committed to understanding their customers on a profound level, fostering innovation, and ensuring user-centric solutions that resonate with the ever-evolving needs of their target audience.