Top insight community platforms: How to choose the right vendor

14 June 2024 | 7 min read | Written by Kelvin Claveria

Insight communities are virtual groups of consumers who agree to participate in ongoing research, offering businesses a potential wealth of feedback and insights. 

But how do you get the most value out of these communities and leverage their insights? 

Enter insight community platforms. 

What exactly is an insight community platform?

An insight community platform is a powerful digital tool or software designed to create and manage insight communities. From running recruitment to cultivating engagement, these platforms empower businesses to gather high-quality customer feedback in real time and at scale.

Businesses can engage with customers for ongoing research and feedback about a wide range of research and business topics. This can include gathering feedback on product features, usability, and customer support experiences, as well as insights on customer preferences, needs, and expectations.

Using an insight community platform, researchers use methods such as surveys, mobile diaries, and photo/video to better understand customers. Companies can then use these customer insights to improve products, optimize marketing campaigns, and enhance the end-to-end customer experience. 

For example, the Dell Technologies Services Neighborhood is an insight community powered by Rival Community 2.0, a leading insight community platform. This community allows customers to share feedback on Dell products and services through audio, video, and text, directly influencing the company’s products and services.

Key features of insight community platforms include:

  1. Recruitment and community management tools that facilitate the recruitment, onboarding, and ongoing management of members. Modern platforms take a lightweight approach, prioritizing ease of use with no portals, member hubs, apps, or newsletters.

  2. Robust survey authoring capabilities to make it easier to collect, quant, qual and, video feedback in one learning stream. 

  3. Real-time capabilities for gathering and analyzing feedback, such as instant notifications of new responses and live data visualization.

  4. Analytics and reporting tools to make sense of quant, qual and video data. 

  5. Customization features for tailoring surveys to meet specific research needs.

  6. Integration options with other business platforms, such as CRM systems, to streamline your workflows.

So, who needs an insight community platform? 

These platforms offer efficient ways to explore, develop, test, and gain more in-depth customer feedback, in a faster way that reduces research costs over time. 

So, anyone wanting to get actionable insights from consumers, shoppers, or fans and maintain a competitive advantage can benefit from using insight community software. This includes businesses of all sizes and industries, from startups looking to validate their product ideas to established companies seeking to find new whitespace opportunities.

Examples may include a boutique clothing retailer wanting to engage a Gen Z community of fashion enthusiasts to get fast feedback on styles, preferences, and shopping experiences. 

Another example could be a tech company that wants to connect with users and collect feedback on product features, usability, and consumer journey mapping to enhance its offering and improve customer satisfaction. 

But how do you choose the best insight community platform? 

While insight community platforms are invaluable in turning customers’ opinions and feedback into improvements, not all providers are created equal. If you’re evaluating top insight platforms in this space or want to switch due to limitations of your existing market research provider, here is the top criteria to look for:

1. Mobile-first capabilities for higher-quality responses

The best insight community platforms take a member-first approach to engagement. They prioritize creating a positive survey experience that encourages participation and values the time and effort of the community members. 

A key element of this approach is being mobile-first. The reason is simple: mobile is the preferred mode of communication for the modern consumer due to its convenience, portability, accessibility, and ability to keep people connected on the go. 

The best insight community platforms take a member-first approach to engagement.

These top research platforms could still offer email for survey distribution, but they prioritize this mobile experience above all since that’s where consumers are. Research from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania shows that consumers are more candid and forthcoming when they answer on their phone, so being mobile-first also means you’re getting more accurate and personal feedback from members of your insight community. 

2. Flexible and frictionless recruitment to reach real people

The days of recruiting community members only through sample providers are over. If you want to engage real consumers, then you have to go where they already are.  

To engage real people successfully, you need to move beyond traditional recruitment methods.  That means you have to choose a research community platform that enables easy recruitment through various digital channels. Certain platforms allow you to recruit through established sources like email, live intercepts like a QR code, social sampling, and APIs.

This multi-channel approach to recruitment gives you access to a more diverse pool of participants — ensuring that you can go beyond “professional survey takers” and hear from a community of consumers that more represent your customer base. 

3. Sophisticated and conversational survey authoring for a personal experience

rival-conversational-research-mobile-product-shotClassic quantitative and qualitative survey functionalities — such as grid questions, quotas, randomization, piping and masking, etc. —  are the foundation of rigorous and methodologically sound research practices.

However, people today expect a more engaging, personalized experience. You can achieve this through features that mimic a dialogue rather than a traditional questionnaire, allowing you to create conversational surveys that feel less like a chore and more like a real dialogue. 

For example, on the Rival platform, there are features like “message cards” that allow you to pre-program appropriate responses depending on how a survey participant answers a question. You can also easily embed videos — making the survey experience more personal and human. 

Conversational research has been shown to increase engagement, improve data quality, and accelerate speed to insights. This approach is a no-brainer if you’re looking for an insight community platform company to work with. 

4. Video capabilities for deeper insights

The rise of social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram has made video an essential part of how brands engage with customers. The same applies to research. 

Smartphones, with their built-in cameras, allow participants to record video responses to open-ended questions instead of typing a response. For researchers, the benefits are obvious: you can see people’s facial expressions and hear their tone of voice. Insights from video-based surveys provide more context and depth. 

Video feedback is also a powerful storytelling tool for research teams. When stakeholders and execs see the faces of real customers, they can’t help but pay attention.  

Given the power of video, you should select an insight community platform that makes it easy to record and share videos—in addition to offering classic quantitative and qualitative survey capabilities. Make sure the vendor you work with also makes it easy to analyze these videos via real-time transcriptions and sentiment analysis, as well as AI-powered capabilities to make sense of unstructured data. 

5. Dynamic profiles for greater relevance and research agility

Since their inception, one of the major benefits of insight communities is their ability to help researchers and marketers get to know members over time. The ROI of an insight community increases over time since you can build the profile of your customers and get deeper insights over time.

Dynamic profiling is a feature that lets you quickly build on what you already know about your community members. It lets you progressively build their profile over time without constantly having to re-ask questions.

While consumers seek personalized experiences, they prefer to avoid long profiling questions at the start of a survey. Profile variables can help you avoid asking unnecessary questions, including demographic, attitudinal and behavioral info that you’ve already asked in the past. 

This iterative approach streamlines your survey process so you can personalize engagement for each research project while maintaining a pretty low LOI. 

The result? You can move your research along much faster without compromising on your needs for rich data. 

6. Smart distributions to maximize response rates

Relevance and timing are essential to a healthy insight community, especially when conducting global market research across time zones.

To maximize engagement and response rates, you need a platform that reaches people at the optimal moment in their respective time zones. 

Enter smart distributions. The right community platform lets you engage the right survey participants at the right time. For example, being able to send surveys based on time zones is a crucial insight community feature.

Distribution Update Rival Mobile Market Research Platform

You also need to be able to automate and “daisy chain” surveys and other activities to help you save time. By linking multiple surveys together in a sequence where completing one triggers the presentation of another to a participant, you can efficiently get data across multiple surveys while maintaining continuity and relevance.

7. Robust reporting and storytelling capabilities to maximize ROI 

To capitalize on the insights gathered from your community and maximize your ROI, you need to be able to analyze your data and create and share compelling stories. 

In addition to mobile toplines, a robust insight community platform should allow you to create crosstabs, conduct statistical significance and create visually appealing reports. Of course, exporting to SPSS and other file formats should also be a given.

Reporting for an insight community platform

The analysis shouldn’t just be on the quant side. Real-time transcription and sentiment analysis should be available by default. 

Bonus: Some platforms use AI to simplify the analysis of qualitative and video feedback, converting data into actionable insights. This intelligent use of AI can improve the overall participant experience and make analysis and reporting more efficient.

Make the most of your insight communities

Insight community platforms help you make the most of your research communities. Not only do they assist with recruiting and managing members, but they also help collect high-quality customer feedback in real time and at scale. 

The key is choosing the right platform to begin with. Look for one that offers key features like mobile-first capabilities for better responses, flexible recruitment for a personalized experience, dynamic profiles for greater agility, and robust reporting and storytelling to maximize ROI.

Beyond technical features, it’s also important to look for a market research vendor that has a knowledgeable customer success team. Working with an insight community firm that acts more like a partner rather than a vendor can make it easier for you to launch and manage your community faster without adding burden to your team. 

Community 2.0 is a modern insight community solution on the Rival platform that takes a member-first approach to community management. Not only does it offer an agile, flexible, and scalable solution for your research, but it also enhances insights through strategic storytelling and reporting.

Discover how Rival’s Community 2.0 can reimagine your approach to research and drive more ROI from your insight community.

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Written by Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria (@kcclaveria) is Director of Demand Generation at Rival Technologies.

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