Traditional research methods have become expensive, slow and unreliable. Market research is in desperate need of a more agile and effective solution. As a result, there has been an explosion of growth in online research communities, which according to the GreenBook Research Industry Trends report, “have been the most successful and most widely adopted new research methodology” for the last few years.
But why are these online communities surpassing previous methods in terms of quality, speed and flexibility?
Taking a holistic approach, customers can be seen as both your revenue drivers, and your greatest asset for long-term retention, feedback and loyalty. When used correctly, customer experience can be extended, leveraging more from your most important customers with online communities that allow constant two-way communication between business and customer.
Your business will rise and fall based on the customer, and creating online communities significantly benefits business decision making as well as customer satisfaction. Even in this digital age, customers care about being heard and maintaining relationships, with fellow customers and the organization whose product they love. That’s why, when done correctly, creating an online community of your customers can have such a visible, positive impact on your organisation’s retention goals.
By providing customers with direct access and influence to the business strategy and product vision, this generates loyalty and commitment far stronger than previously capable, giving you a distinct advantage over competitors.
When online communities are built properly, there are five key benefits over traditional research methods:
Dig Deeper – it allows businesses to build a community of people with long-term access to their thoughts, insights, and feelings that are committed to the success of your brand.
Direct Access – it leads to community-generated ideas, insights, feedback forums and creative concept testing to monitor closely and consistently. Ultimately, it gives you direct access to the minds of your most important customers.
Longer Duration – unlike focus groups and long quantitative research, you are able to learn from and monitor the decisions of customers over time, allowing iteration and a constant feedback loop to improve decision making.
Reduced Cost – by recruiting once and leveraging multiple times, not only does it come at a reduced cost, but it adds a unique customer service, customer acquisition, alternative research and recruitment strategy to the remit of market research.
Engaged Customers – has the ability to alert businesses to potential problems and improve speed in addressing issues that could negatively impact customer relationships.
Most importantly, online communities improve business decision making. These communities have the ability to accelerate market research from a linear, rigid model into an agile win-win solution for both company and customer. By creating constant communication between you and your most important business asset, you can begin to improve your business in the following ways:
Helps customers get more value from your products and services
Improve the way you improve and iterate your products and services
Develop better new ideas, products and services
To market and sell more effectively
To reduce the cost of post-sales service
To maintain control over the conversation about your products and services
When using online research communities, brands have the ability to target a very specific group of consumers, using platforms such as Bounce, brands can target demographically, behaviourally and psychologically. This breath of flexibility allows brands to test and validate their assumptions with very specific groups, meaning less margin for error, more rigorous data and ultimately the ability to make much more informed business decisions as a result of this targeting. Having an online community allows brands to repeat this process at any time and is truly a secret weapon in any insight department’s arsenal.
It’s simple, your customers are the single most important asset in your business. Once you understand that these customers can be leveraged for not only revenue, but on-demand insight, it can transform your business. Online communities make customer-centricity simple, agile and cost-effective by allowing any business to be on the pulse of their customers to improve business decision-making.