Community has to be one of the biggest buzzwords of this decade. We have always had local communities, of course, but lately there are so many new communities popping up; social media communities, professional communities, sporting communities, a community for every possible sub-culture.
In the context of market research, an insights community is a closed group composed of your customers who have committed to contributing and improving your brand long-term. They are characterized by an ongoing, two-way dialogue between the brand and the customer.
Insight communities are more than a buzzword, they are here to stay because they offer some tangible, outstanding benefits to your business:
- They help to bring the customer into the heart of your business. They allow you to truly engage and interact with your customers on an ongoing basis, resulting in deep longitudinal understanding.
- Insights communities enable in-the moment, contextual research – when you want, anytime you want. Allowing you to uncover trends and issues as they happen, and to be responsive and flexible to a rapidly changing marketplace.
- Insights tend to be of better quality because members are engaged, they actually care, they have opted to be in this community and they want to contribute to your business decision making.
And the results for your business?
- Intelligent business decisions underpinned by customer feedback
- Better products, services, digital & communication strategies
- Improved customer experience and high engagement from executive team to shop floor
And of course, quicker and more cost-effective insights – now who can argue with that?
Traditional market research is like a speed date – we ask, consumers answer, we move on to a different set of
With communities, you, the client and the customers are in it for the long haul which means that you need to invest more time and effort in building a relationship with your client and with the customer. If consumers don’t think you are interesting enough, they will break up with you.
So, here are some thoughts on how you can keep this relationship going!
- Spend some time thinking about what would make the experience better for the customer. Research them when, where and how they would like to be researched.
- Make sure the research is interesting and engaging – and when you have topics that are less interesting, spend time on making the format and the invitation more engaging.
- Inject some variety into it – no one wants to be doing the same type of research every month.
- Keep your tone of voice conversational, and adapt it to suit the type of people you have in the community.
- Reward your community for its efforts. This can be in the form of incentives, prize draws or exclusive tickets and giveaways.
- Have a feedback loop – tell the community how their research feedback has translated into actions.
- Keep the relationship fresh – surprise your community with interesting content or a cool prize.
- And lastly, check in with them to see how you are going and how you can continue to improve the relationship.
It’s certainly harder to keep a relationship going than it is to speed date, but in the long run, the rewards to your business more than make up for the effort.
If you’re reading this, it most likely means that you are thinking about setting up an online customer community for your research needs. Congratulations, you are joining many of the world’s leading brands and companies in harnessing the power of your customers in real time. But equally, the market is littered with communities that aren’t performing well. So, what are the traps for young players?
It’s worth thinking through why you need a community and who is going to use it. Are you seeking consumer feedback on your innovation process? Maybe it more about improving customer experience? Alternatively, will you use it for testing advertising and promotional ideas? How much research would you like to do through it? Will it be mostly qualitative or quantitative or a mixture? These are important considerations in determining the size, structure and target audience for your community.
Involve the stakeholders in your business at an early stage. Cast your net wide – sales, marketing, customer, product & pricing, digital and social to name a few. Not only does this help scope out the community requirements and secure their buy-in for when you launch, but you will be surprised at how many ideas get generated. Turn the output of these sessions into a clear community plan – your plan should cover who and how many you will recruit into the community, how you will recruit them, what type of research you will originate, and how you will keep the community engaged and rewarded for their efforts.
And, of course, you need some good partners to help you along the way, for technology, research and community management. Involve your partners early so they can help guide you through the purpose and planning. Make sure their technology platform delivers to the needs that you have identified, that they have robust research credentials and they have a plan to keep the community engaged. Or just email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you out!