In this article we take a close look at digital tools that can be used by brands to gather consumer insights. We take a look at what industry experts have to say about them. And ultimately we discuss the use of a consumer insights platform that combines the most valuable tools into one solution.
The Pareto Principle
The Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto once wrote:
80% of business comes from 20% of its customers.
It’s a statement that’s decades old and well referenced by top marketers, including Seth Godin. But it’s not any good to you if you don’t know what that 20% of your customers actually want.
On the bright side, it’s the digital age. Brands have more consumer data available than ever before thanks to Big Data for example. Utilizing this bottomless well of information and turning it into consumer insights should make growing your business far easier than ever before, right?
Consumer Insights Workflow
Unfortunately, more marketers and businesses say they find it consistently difficult to identify their consumers and acquire and interpret them in an easy way.
It’s probably an obvious workflow, but usually you will want to approach consumer insights in the following order:
- Accessing your consumer insights;
- Interpreting and understanding your consumer insights;
- Creating actionable tasks based that will really make a difference in your business.
Let’s take a look at some digital tools you can utilize to cover step 1 and 2.
1) Consumer Insights Via Forum Discussions
Forum discussions have been around for decades now. While you might dismiss them as old-fashioned, you’d be wrong to do so.
“The main advantage of online forums is that you are able to directly engage with your customers by answering their questions,”
Forum discussions allow you to pose questions directly to your customers and leverage their answers to help you build fantastic consumer insights. You can start with one of the many turnkey insight platforms that are available.
2) Consumer Insights Via Surveys
Customers are conditioned to respond to poor service. Nearly all customer service training and research focus on ‘service recovery’. This basically defines what to do when a customer makes a complaint. As a result, many surveys will only fill your inbox with negative feedback.
On the flip side, when conducted well, surveys can actually influence consumer loyalty, as Paul Dholakia and Vicki Morwitz found in a field experience with over 2,000 customers. In their article for the Harvard Business Review, they report on their findings.
Essentially, they divided the 2,000 participants into two groups–one group was surveyed about their satisfaction with a particular company and the other group wasn’t. After a year, they looked at consumer behavior. Those who were surveyed were three times more likely to have taken up other products with the brand. They were less than half as likely to have moved to another brand. Additionally, they were much more likely to provide profit to the business than those who weren’t surveyed.
3) Consumer Insights Via Polls
Aside from surveys, which are often more in-depth and rely on consumers responding retrospectively, polls give you a platform for real-time feedback. They’re short, sweet and snappy, and consumers can instantly provide you with insights at the click of a button.
With real-time responses come real-time actions:
Insights gained from real-time experience tracking (RET) can be acted on immediately—a great advantage in new product launches or marketing campaigns conducted in fast-changing environments.’
4) Consumer Insights Via Idea Contests
You only have to take a look at platforms like Kickstarter (where ideas compete for funding) to see how much these types of competitions drive engagement. Utilizing your consumers’ ideas through a competition can be a great way to get insights into what you could be doing better.
But, hosting it as a competition and rewarding your consumers not only generates buzz, it also increases brand loyalty. So, it’s not just the results that can help you with your consumer insights. The competition process is pretty valuable too.
In our experience, after companies design and execute one competition, they often gather the important data and ideas they’ve learned to use in subsequent competitions. As this process plays out, the greatest benefit may be for the hosts of the contest, since they learn they can cultivate great ideas over time.
Related Post: Building a Social Community Around Your Brand
5) Consumer Insights Via Personal Diaries
Using consumer experience diaries is a great (and cost-effective way) to gather personal and unbiased data that can help inform your decision-making. Using online, guided diary formats for consumers enables you to set tasks and make requests to specific individuals and set timeframes for them to complete them in.
This is perfect for finding out what your consumers really think about that upcoming product or promotion campaign ahead of time. You can avoid making the mistake of heavily financing a launch that would wind up not garnering much interest at all.
The research backs it up too:
If you’re looking for a contextual understanding of user behaviors and experiences over time, it can be very difficult to appropriately create scenarios to gather these kinds of insights. Diary studies are useful for understanding long-term behaviors.
Putting It All Together: The Consumer Insights Platform
So, you’re probably sitting there thinking that all this seems great but sounds like a lot of work. How do I even get started? Luckily, that’s where CMNTY’s Insights Platform can help.
With CMNTY Platform you can build a consumer insights platform for project-based or long-term studies – in less than a day. It includes all of the consumer insights tools we’ve just been talking about.
Using CMNTY, you can gather and present qualitative results quicker than using traditional market research methods. You can conduct your research studies with a platform that is simple yet powerful enough to grow with your needs. Visiting our launch page and starting a trial is a great way of getting your feet wet with your own consumer insights platform. Remember that we have an extensive help center that has answers to most of your questions. And if the answer isn’t there, you can always reach out to us.