Insight communities remain a powerful tool in the market researcher’s toolbox. When used right, communities can provide the agility brands need to engage with the right people at the right time and get timely customer feedback. Today more than 60% of both research suppliers and buyers are using communities, according to the 2022 GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) report.
In market research, insight communities go back more than 20 years when the web was a lot different. In the late 1990s, the idea that you could do research online was really intriguing. Needless to say, we’ve come a long way from sending out email newsletters and creating online portals.
Today’s online landscape is much more dynamic—it’s much more real time and engaging. More than ever, we’ve got lots of interesting ways of talking to our customers. The ubiquity of mobile and the popularity of social media have transformed how innovative market researchers build and manage their insight communities today.
During a recent webinar, Rival President & Chief Methodologist Jennifer Reid shared how mobile tech has changed the consumer landscape and the implications for how brands can get more value from their insight communities. An innovator in community-based research since 1998 (when the notion of an insight community was still nascent), Jen has a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of this methodology and a unique perspective on where it’s going next.
The mobile revolution is real—it’s not just a Gen Z thing because everyone today has a smartphone with them all the time.
“Across generations, mobile is the modern means of reaching out,” Jen says, citing stats about mobile adoption among Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers.
While it’s important to make sure your community activities work on the desktop, the respondent experience needs to be considered with a mobile-first view.
One of the biggest advantages of this move to mobile? Speed.
Most people look at a text as soon as the notification pops up on their phone, while a survey sent via email will get lost in an inbox of thousands of unread messages.
SMS also supports a more organic experience—one that feels familiar to people. Community activities sent via the Rival platform, for example, feel more like a conversation rather than an arduous test.
Mobile functionalities deliver media-rich responses
Mobile phones are also a camera that people are carrying everywhere all the time. This opens new opportunities to get richer insights from your community members.
"Across generations, mobile is the modern means of reaching out."
Some of the best insight communities today—including REVOLT TV’s REVOLT Nation and Paramount’s Culture Keepers—regularly integrate quantitative questions with video and qualitative inputs to get a richer understanding of their audience.
The best kept secret about getting video feedback? Use video to get video.
Citing Dell as an example, Jen said videos recorded via your own smartphone and adding them to your community activities can boost video responses by showing how easy it is to respond this way.
“This [Dell] community really reaps the benefits of this lil’ bit of extra work that goes on within the context of how you set up a survey,” Jen explains.
Mixed sampling sources make community recruitment easier than ever
To get the right people to participate in your community, you need to go where real people are. While traditional sources like access panels and your own email database are good starting points, you don’t have to feel constrained to just those choices.
According to Jen, brands like OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, Land O’Lakes and Seattle Surge have built very engaged insight communities leveraging Facebook ads, TikTok, Discord, and other non-traditional sampling sources.
Jen shares, “We've had great luck in certain verticals working with influencers and having influencers lean into helping us recruit.”
For best results, recruiting through these new channels should be focused.
Don’t think of community recruitment as a one-and-done thing. Some community members will naturally drop off for a variety of reasons, so recruitment needs to be an ongoing initiative.
Hyper-personalization is the expectation
Consumers today have come to expect personalized experiences when they engage with brands—an expectation that extends to the insight community experience.
Therefore, you should aim to deliver an experience that makes sense given what you already know about your members. For example, if you have studies about award shows, you should only be sending follow-up chats about shows that the community member has indicated they’d be watching.
“One of the things that differentiates a community from a group of people is the notion that you’re delivering an experience where you’re remembering who they were,” Jen says.
Personalization also means not asking for info you should already have. Choose an insight community platform that can easily leverage existing info from your members.
“If you know somebody’s demos, you shouldn’t be having to ask for those demos every time you do subsequent work,” explains Jen. “That’s how we keep our chats short and snappy—we don’t have this weight of things that we already have in the profile that we have to ask again.”
Build your mobile strategy for community recruitment and engagement
Insight communities are more than just a market research trend. In many brands today, communities are a key tool in agile research programs and delivering real-time insights to stakeholders. But to maximize the ROI of communities, they need to keep up with consumer behaviors and expectations.