4 Ways Market Research Online Communities Can Impact Your Business

We all know that online market research is more essential than ever right now. With the COVID-19 pandemic, budgets are down, timelines are tighter than ever, and in-person research is, at best, complicated. How can an online community make an impact on your business right now, and in the future?

You have an engaged audience ready to provide feedback

Having an online community, often called an insights community, means you have a group of dedicated, loyal “consumers” on-hand at all times who are ready on demand to provide insights and inspiration into what they need and what motivates them.  They may or may not be loyal to any particular brand, but they are absolutely loyal to the idea of engaging with you and answering your questions to help you understand who they are, what they prefer, and what makes them tick. How?

Incentivizing community members is key. Rewarding through gift cards/ promotions is important, as is sharing how customer feedback is being used (we call it “closing the loop” in our communities). This, and a trusted relationship with an online community moderator, ensures e-mails are opened and questions are answered. Whether it’s a full co-creation study with CrowdWeaving® or a quick 24-hour poll, you can expect results quickly. And, as an added bonus, the use of online dashboards means clients have real-time access to community results for those spur-of-the-moment meetings.

Cost savings

It should come as no surprise that an online community can save your company tens of thousands of research dollars annually.  When tasked with an initiative, ad hoc research is very pricy – there is sample to pay for, platform costs, moderator fees, programming fees, costs for analysis/reporting, etc.  This can quickly add up.  And it’s not just a one-off – EVERY TIME a new initiative comes up you incur these costs again.  In a community all of this is built in; one upfront cost for the community is all there is.  And, as ad hoc qualitative research in particular can be very costly, the savings quickly add up in an insights community.

Also, with an online community you can reach multiple segments at once, which can significantly accelerate timelines and result in even more cost savings. By conducting multiple studies (to multiple key groups) in tandem, you can quickly tap into your online community resource and get answers. Since all online community members are all pre-screened, it is easy to slice and dice data by known demos. As a result, online community research is done within 4-6 weeks or so, versus the 3-6 months customary for in-person qualitative research. 

Build stronger relationships with important stakeholders

It goes without saying the things we’ve already talked about, reduced costs and increased speed, will appeal to “higher-ups” and key stakeholders. Perhaps just as importantly, though, an online community inherently involves many people within the company, from top to bottom. While creating an online community may meet some initial resistance, there is a lot to be said for getting key stakeholders on board early in the process. Doing this successfully means when questions come up that “need answers yesterday,” the community is top of mind for everyone as a tried and true option with proven ROI.

Having a community also means involving customers, or potential customers, earlier in the product development process, which reduces risk and makes product launch success less of a guessing game for management. It’s not hard to find examples of failures stemming from lack of market research/ poorly done market research.

Build stronger relationships with customers

Finally, an online community allows you to reach out to customers often, building trust and loyalty. Even if a company or product ultimately “goes another way” from online community research results, customers value simply being invited to the process and sharing their opinions. It’s what we call empowering the customer, and it’s been an essential part of KLC’s story from day one. And of course, that’s another reason we “close the loop” as much as possible, to show customers where their valuable insights went within the company and how they were used.

The time is now.

If you’ve been considering an online community to enhance your market research efforts, the time is now.  Don’t let the COVID-19 pandemic stall your efforts but make the leap to online tools that can save time, money, and build important internal and external relationships with key groups.