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5 best practices for applying an agile research methodology

Niamh Cunningham
Niamh Cunningham is Rival's COO

Getting to know your customers isn’t a one-and-done thing. You are testing what resonates with them from inception to all the way to post-launch. To be successful, you need feedback every step of the way— and an agile research methodology can help.

While agile research gives you the keys to faster feedback, you need the right systems in place to get clear insights. If your business is thinking of leveraging an agile research methodology, here are some best practices to help you get started. 

1. Create a robust, agile market research strategy

Our sister company, Reach3 Insights, is a full-service insights consulting firm that works with global brands like Kimberly-Clark, Tyson Foods, Lenovo and Diageo to capture agile insights that drive better business decisions. Based on many of these high-impact projects, Reach3 has identified five critical steps to implementing an agile research methodology:

1. Discover: understand the problem and set objectives. This involves identifying new opportunities by talking to your target audience through forums, focus groups and mobile communities

2. Define: explore and identify high-level themes based on consumer findings through mobile surveys. For example, an event tech company might want to learn which features they need to improve to offer a better ticket checkout experience for their consumers.

3. Develop: capture ongoing participant feedback and gather insights in your data that drive business decisions. Thanks to mobile research platforms like Rival, this step won't take days or weeks — you can request feedback from a captivated audience and action on these findings in a matter of days.

4. Deliver: deploy your updated product or messaging into the market. At this stage, it’s important that you have the tools in place to receive sophisticated reports about your consumer feedback.

5. Evolve: iterate and plan the next steps to continually deliver more value to the business. By using an agile market research platform, you can gather and apply feedback as consumer behaviors and opinions evolve to further improve your market research strategy. 

2. Recruit the right people

When developing goals for your agile research program, you have to be mindful of who you're talking to. Achieving the right mix of research participants isn’t limited to demographics; you also need to provide an engaging consumer experience. If you wanted to learn something new about your friend, you’d never ask “on a scale of 1 to 10 how much do you enjoy ice skating?”. Crazy looks aside, you’d never get an honest answer, because that’s not how people talk to each other! And we all know that without honest feedback, you’ll never get accurate data. That’s why we’re all about conversational surveys — or “chats” as we like to call them — that look and feel like the messages people send to their friends and family. 

3. Don’t be afraid to pivot

Your brand may have specific outcomes it’s looking to tackle with an agile research methodology. However, as you engage participants, you may uncover unexpected opportunities to conduct more research. If so, you need to be able to easily adjust the questions you’re asking, which we like to refer to as agile learning streams. 

For example, a global brand in the tech space recently used our market research platform to ask consumers about their gift giving habits, which included:

  • how they think about giving gifts
  • what types of gifts they give
  • what tools would make gift-giving easier
  • would they use an AI-based tool to help recommend gifts

Based on the answers received, we always had the ability to adjust our follow-up conversations. The key takeaway here is that having an overall structure for the  questions you want to ask is important, but always be prepared to gather more answers– and insights– on the fly. 

4. Ensure your reporting is agile

In a recent talk at the 2021 Market Research in the Mobile World conference, Pallavi Agarwal, User Researcher from Amazon, shared how her team used agile research to support Amazon Pay. Agarwal said agile research should focus on small data points with reporting that highlights five to six key insights.

Our sister company, Reach3, understands just how important this balance is. That's why they provide mobile toplines and an interactive report that highlights the top three to five “so what’s” based on the findings.  Instead of dedicating time to sift through a 30-page report, executives and other decision makers can easily identify actionable insights.

5. Engage your customers where they’re already at

If your consumers mostly use their mobile phones, then that’s where you have to meet them. Although you might initially expect this to only work for Gen Zs and Millennials, research shows that all age demographics have higher response rates through text/messaging apps than via traditional email surveys. That's why Rival’s platform is built for mobile-first channels; our goal is to reduce the need to rely on email surveys, which are already well on their way to becoming dead tech. 

As a recent example, we worked with Instagram influencer and gamer, thesquatingdog, to invite Gen Z players to participate in chats posted to their Instagram story. These players went from viewing a story on Instagram to answering a few questions about their experience with Fortnite— allowing us to get both qual and quant insights in one frictionless experience. Additionally, SMS notifications allowed us to easily re-engage these players for follow-up chats that provide in-the-moment responses.

 

Summing it up

An agile research methodology can help high-impact teams deliver more value to the business, but it requires setting clear goals and being open to pivoting your research questions. Combining the right technology with an agile approach, your company can  better connect with consumers for stronger business decisions supported by in-the-moment data.  

Looking to deliver deeper insights at scale? Reach out to our sales team to see how you can use our platform to level up your agile research methodology.

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