Pitfalls to avoid
There are certain pitfalls that must be avoided to achieve long-term success with a Online Market Research Community. Firstly, you can’t under-resource your community; engagement is dependent on incentives. If community members don’t think their opinions are being valued, then they will get frustrated and it reflects poorly on the brand. Finding the right level of engagement is important; don’t overwork your community with complicated research or underwork them with rare surveys and a lack of rewards. It’s also a good habit to be transparent about what the community’s data is contributing to, this has the added benefit that it helps form a community brand. This would also imply that you as the company need to be measuring the impact and accurately tracking the progress of the community. You need tangible metrics to get the most out of your community.
The Technology Behind Online Market Research Communities
As online communities become a mainstream research method, technology is racing to meet its needs. At the moment, many solutions involve make-shift websites, mobile-optimised browsers that fall short of lofty customer expectations on user experience. The future will demand more of these communities. According to the MRS, the three key challenges in the coming years will be around integration with other forms of customer data, obtaining on-demand/real-time insight and the agility required from new technologies to meet research demand.
An important change in market research is the embrace of agile market research. This is an approach that takes its inspiration from agile software development which values: numerous small experiments over a few large bets, rapid iterations over big-bang campaigns, testing and data over opinions and conventions, and responding to change over following a plan. Technology is adapting to agile market research and enabling rapid decision-making by the company. Read more about the other technology trends that are impacting market research communities here.
The Benefits of Online Market Research Communities
The true ‘end-to-end’ community allows meaningful dialogue between organisation and participant via an engaging member environment (e.g. a mobile app), participant management tool to build up member portraits and multiple dialogue channels (e.g. surveys, discussion forums, video focus groups, live chats and member interaction for idea generation).
- 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 – communities can alert businesses to potential problems and improve speed in addressing issues that could negatively impact customer relationships.
- Customer Retention – by providing customers with direct access and influence to the business, it generates loyalty and commitment far stronger than previously capable, giving you a distinct advantage over competitors.
- Improve Business Decision Making – In essence, online communities become the catalyst for consumer-centric decision making at a speed unparalleled to traditional market research methods. By having your customers at your fingertips, a company can move from ‘we think’ to ‘we know’.
Learn more about how to leverage your online community here.
The Future of Online Market Research Communities
In the 2017 GRIT Report, 60% of the world’s leading brands had an online insight community. There was market penetration of 82% by 2018, meaning online research communities have escaped their ‘niche’ title in favour of being a ‘mainstream’ methodology employed by almost every company around the world. A key reason for the growth of communities is the move to democratise insights. For some, this means granting access to the raw data, for others it means ensuring that the insights are made available in ways that do not require any specialised knowledge of research, in order to interpret and utilise.
At the heart of this is communities. A philosophy of customer-centricity will transcend an organisation if they have the ability to democratise the insights captured in a consistent and digestible manner. Most learning in the future will be iterative, based on approaches such as build-measure-learn, and the best way to democratise that in your organisation is through the centrality of communities. Learn more about how to achieve democratised insights in our blog here.