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Taking the Mystery out of Market Research Online Communities

Updated: Jan 3

Written by: Evan Goodfellow


So much mystery surrounds market research online communities, even among some of the companies that sell it. In this article we try to lift the fog, and provide a clear understanding of what it is and how it can be used.


A Hypothetical Situation

Here’s a hypothetical scenario to illustrate the mystery that exists around Market Research Online Communities and why? Imagine John has built a clothing company from the ground up and his clothes are now sold in large retailers around the globe. Starting small with just him and a partner back in the late 90’s on a shoestring budget has led him to wear a lot of hats and learn to master key roles in his company. As the company grew and expanded he slowly began hiring individuals to fill the roles he had once done. Having to fill so many roles himself in the early years taught him what to look for in hiring for each position. Recently his CMO proposed that the company buy Online Community software. John had heard of Online Community software before and was curious what it did exactly. He had heard a bunch of vague answers and never pursued it further. This time he began asking the CMO what it did. To which she replied with popular business buzzwords. It helps you with customer insight. It leads to better user experience. Those words were all good but John was interested in the details, how did it do these things? The CMO seemed to have no clue herself exactly how the software works or how it achieved the buzzword promises.


The questions were good and after not receiving clear answers John began going on websites for companies that sold the software, which provided tons of information but still left him unclear as to what exactly they were selling. The vagueness led him to wish there was a Market Research Online Communities for Dummies book. In this article we are going to try and help answer why the term Online Communities seem to be shrouded in mystery and what they actually are.


The Software is New and There is No One Teaching What it is or How to Use it

The first question is why when this software is being heralded as the future of market research is it still so vague? One of the reasons is that the software concept is relatively still new. There are no courses in universities that teach marketing students what the software is and how it works. There is relatively very little literature about the software. This will change as this software becomes standard practice in marketing departments which will lead to marketing students using the software to perform projects for their classes. Tutorials will start to abound showing how this type of software can be used to perform market research tasks and learn the ins-and-outs of the software. Professors who teach classes will have used the software and understand the importance of it.


Currently professors discuss it as the future of market research but many of which have never seen the software nor had to use it for their previous experience in marketing. A good analogy would be a photographer in the late 90’s who learned photography on analogue cameras trying to explain Photoshop without having used it before.


MROC Software Contains Research Tools

The next question is what the software actually is? What are the tools within the software and how do they help? The software provides different tools that can perform specific market research tasks. Members who like your brand and feel some connection to it can join your branded community. To service these members and allow them an opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions you have the discussion threads. This is where topics can be discussed and started either by the user or by the moderator. A host of things can be discussed here, and a company can profit from listening to customers respond to discussion thread topics.


The next tool in this software is the Diary function, here you can invite a group of customers to be a part of a group that will answer questions each day over a short period of time in order to gain insight. You can ask a new question each day, and the members can answer through text, photos or video. Diaries provide a great ethnographic understanding of your group. For deeper more poignant insight you can use the survey function.


The survey function allows you to create a traditional survey that you can send out to the respondents of your choosing. You can target specific members that you want to find out information from for your surveys. The survey software allows you to ask different kinds of questions, from single response questions, to multiple choice, to open ended questions. Perhaps you want to ask respondents in a certain geographic location, age, gender etc. This software allows you that option. Also by filling your community with members who are connected to your brand you are able to save money and time by increasing the likelihood of survey completions exponentially.


Quick polls are also a part of the software. This allows you to ask a respondent who logs in, one quick question. By asking one question you don’t have to worry about taking up too much of their time, and over a period of time you can gather great quantitative research.

The other deliverable is the Marker Board. Clients seem to love this tool for creating marketing materials that have a strong resonance with customers. This tool allows you to show community members a proposed advertisement. Members can then put pins in the photo showing which part of the advertisement they liked, disliked, or were neutral about. This is great for designing and or redesigning materials and achieving the desired response from your customers.


Cheaper More Targeted Research

So in short, a Market Research Online Community is tool box full of different tools you can use to help you with your market research needs. Each tool allows you to connect to your customer and ask them for their feedback. The software allows you to be as broad or specific as you want, allowing you to create discussions, send surveys, or set up diaries for a certain age, gender, geographic location or any other specific demographic you might be looking for. By creating an online research community you are able to be more targeted in your research and save money that you would have spent with traditional market research methods.


If you would like to more about our online community software please contact us.


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