3 important questions to answer before sunsetting or retiring your community

3 important questions to answer before sunsetting or retiring your community

Thinking of retiring or sunsetting your insight community? Most brands we work with run their communities indefinitely, but once in a while I get asked how often brands should sunset and just start over.

Answering this question is fairly easy. If your brand needs to retire or sunset your community, it is often an obvious choice.

That said, a low response rate isn‰’t a sufficient reason to retire your community. Before you completely sunset your insight community, here are 3 questions you should investigate:

  1. How are you currently maintaining your community?

Brands that run their insight communities indefinitely do a regular purge to remove non-responders. Many also do an annual refresh of their community where they do large batch recruiting and top up the membership in their community by inviting people from lists.

Some clients also recruit through drip methods‰ – including referral campaigns, in store or receipt invitations, or through web promotion‰ – that bring a trickle of new members in over time.

This combination of removing non-responders and the gradual addition of new members is often enough in maintaining the health of the community. But in some extenuating circumstances‰ – for example, if response rates are extremely low or there‰’s a business or research need to bring in new members that match a different profile‰ – a regular refresh might not be sufficient and some clients opt to retire their community instead.

  1. What is the nature of your studies?

Not all insight communities are the same. Sometimes, brands create communities for special purposes. Depending on the type of studies you do with your community, retiring it might make sense.

Working with many Vision Critical clients, I have seen that a scheduled community sunset usually only happens with clients who do a lot of concept testing or other repetitive work with their community members. In this case, the community may fully end every year or two, and new members are brought in.

  1. What changes have you made to the community?

For a variety of reasons, a brand could decide to change some aspects of the community‰ – and these changes could justify bringing new people in or ending your community altogether. If there is a significant change happening with the rewards plan (for example, reducing financial rewards, taking away member discussions, etc), then it is a good idea to consider starting fresh with new members to avoid frustrating your current members.

Retiring your community is not a light decision. After all, it‰’s often easier and less time-consuming to work with the community you already have‰ – a community you already have a relationship with‰ – than recruiting a new group of customers. And as the examples I gave here show, sometimes refreshing the community is an easier way to go. When making this decision, be sure to ask the right questions and to consider your research needs.

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