Online communities are producing some exceptional qualitative market research results. But how can you convince marketers to follow your recommendations and use this powerful tool? Here are six ways marketers can benefit from online community research.
It is becoming more and more imperative for you to keep up with the latest and greatest research methods and tools, as marketers depend on you to keep them informed about innovative approaches for generating high quality data at the lowest possible cost.
While we want to clear up any confusion and dispel any skepticism, we also want to make it easy for you to articulate to marketers the many capabilities of online communities.
Here are six ways moderators are using online communities, and how these communities can also be valuable to marketers, brand managers and other clients in an organization.
- Dig deeper. Online communities foster ongoing conversations, which allow you to communicate with participants for a longer period of time. This allows you push “why” and “how” questions further than in a traditional focus group.
Do not underestimate the importance of giving participants more time to review a product. The more time there is for ideas to unfold, the more insightful answers you will receive from your community.
- Easily show and tell. One appliance company used online communities to gather data about how participants stored food in their refrigerators, and also how they cleaned them. This allowed the company to identify ways to improve how the product worked.
In this example, online communities afforded participants the time and ability to record and photograph how they used their appliances in their natural environments. The moderator gathered very detailed and accurate information.
On the other hand, if the company instead led a focus group, participants would have had to recall their routines, which would have compromised the quality of their answers.
- Complement other methods. Going “multimodal” — or using multiple methods to accomplish your research objective — is easier than ever with online communities.
You can use an online community to preface a focus group, and help you become more familiar with your participants. Or, you can use it to narrow down questions before conducting a series of in-store intercepts.
It is easier than you think to experiment with online communities to discover ways to get your bang for your buck. Read more about multimodal research here.
- Be more adaptive and iterative. Online communities allow you to adjust the discussion based on what you learn from the community.
For example, because of the “ongoing conversation” nature of an online community, after you ask for initial feedback, you can easily ask for feedback again once changes are made. This will improve your data and product.
- Combine multiple research projects. In addition to receiving insight on the product itself, you may also want to hear participants’ opinions about product packaging or marketing materials.
Because participants remain in an online community for an extended period of time, it is easy to gather data about several components of the same product or marketing campaign.
- Save time and money. Last, but certainly not least, online communities cut travel time, hassle and expenses.
Anywhere a participant has internet connection, he or she can participate in an online community. This means moderators can painlessly and cost-effectively conduct research, even if participants are scattered geographically.
Online communities are a flexible tool — no matter how you use them, they can fit well into what you seek to accomplish in your research objective -- especially for online qualitative research. It simply just takes the will to experiment. The more you understand and use them, the more you have to offer your clients.
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