Vision Critical

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Keeping people engaged. For many, this is the holy grail of doing marketing and research online. Do it well and you have the trust and attention of millions of people - fail at it and you're wasting time and valuable resources.

Vision Critical has seen in our research on research that there are two key drivers of member satisfaction and engagement in an insight community: (1) topic of the project and quality of the design, and (2) members feeling their input is valued.

Let's break these down into ideas to implement on your insight community.

Topic and Design

When it comes to ensuring your topic and design are interesting for members there are two very simple things you can do. Firstly, read the whole design out loud. If it sounds boring and awful, it probably is. Secondly, if you wouldn't participate in the project, why would someone else?

Here are some tips to ensure you think about member engagement when you're designing projects.

  • Fun up your topic or make it controversial, and write an interesting hook for the invitation subject line. When it comes to the design, ask some open-ended questions, include visuals, explain why you want to know, have a quiz built into the survey, or share results right away by embedding a quick poll (like what you have on your portal).
  • Use conversational language. Write like you're talking to someone, not like you're a robot or an academic in a lecture hall. If you're asking questions the way you did 5 years ago in a tracking study, then you may want to consider lightening up your language. You can still be clear and concise in what you're asking, just ask a question the same way you'd normally speak.

    Good example: We're interested in learning about what you stock in your pantry! (Then show images and have members drag each into a category: always have on hand, sometimes have in my pantry, never have this in my house.)

    Bad example: Thinking about what you have in your pantry, which of the following do you always have, sometimes have or never have in your house?

  • Include segues. Transition language helps reduce awkwardness. Remember to think of this as a conversation not just a survey.

    Example: Thanks for the great feedback! Now we'd like to hear more about xxxx.

  • Explain why you're asking certain questions. Some questions may feel odd, intrusive or flat out rude unless you give a reason why you're asking. People are usually fairly rational, so if you give them an explanation, they're more likely to give you an answer.
  • Don't ask repetitive questions. If you've already asked questions in your profiling questionnaire, you probably don't need to ask them again. Also, if you're running the same kinds of projects regularly (eg: concept testing) let members know you have a standardized approach to asking the questions and you can share with them how each concept stacks up with others you've tested with the community afterward.
  • Keep surveys short and to the point. If they're going longer than 20 questions or about 5 minutes in length, then you may want to consider running two separate projects. With an insight community you don't have to throw everything into one survey, your members are there on an ongoing basis so you can spread the questions out more into bit size chunks.
  • Use visual questions to make the project more engaging. Visual questions are a great way to inject more life into your survey and can help you ask questions you wouldn't normally be able to ask if you're using a flat design.

Closing the feedback loop

We know you're stretched for time and have a lot to juggle. Closing the feedback loop with members doesn't have to take a lot of effort. It can make you feel really good about your job, and it will make members feel you value their time and input.

Most organizations running engaged communities send quarterly or more frequent newsletters. If you want to also share informally you can post information in email PS lines, first or end pages of surveys, and in forum introductions. The rule of thumb for frequency is usually the more you ask for, the more you should share back.

Here are some ideas of things to share:

  • what you learned from members (word clouds, graphs)
  • what decisions you're making as a result (or at least what the decision making process is)
  • profiles and day in the life stories of your team and internal stakeholders including career path
  • winners of contests (running a contest is more about proving to people that it's possible to win, versus a couple of people winning, so it's very important to communicate the winners to everyone)
  • sneak peeks or tidbit about upcoming products or advertising
  • member recognition by sharing quotes (with first name and handle from forums)

Designing a great project and closing the feedback loop will go a long way to building a stronger relationship with your members and ensuring they stay engaged in your community.

We'd love to hear your ideas on ways to make study topics and design more interesting, and additional ways you can close the feedback loop. Please post a comment.

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Ellie Hutton

Ellie is passionate about our customers' experience, shining a spotlight on the success of our customers, and bringing the voice of the customer to our business. She’s been with Vision Critical since 2006, in research, marketing, sales enablement, customer success and CX teams. Ellie has over 20 years of experience in research and marketing, partnering with companies across many verticals to build brands, develop products, retain customers, evaluate communications, develop strategy, and facilitate change.
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