How to implement an insight community

So, you’re sold. You know what an insight community is, and you know the benefits. You know you want to implement an ongoing community solution to inform strategic and tactical business decisions, but how? Keep reading to learn how to implement an insight community and how to develop a customer insight strategy…

What resources are needed for an insight community?

As covered in our article, ‘what is an insight community’, there are a lot of components to an insight community, each of which plays an integral part in helping you to gather, quality control, evaluate, share and socialise insights from your customers. To recap, to implement an insight community you’ll need:

  • A platform, usually SaaS model and browser-based, to allow front-end access to members to complete activities, and back-end access for admins to set tasks and access data.
  • Community members to populate your community and provide data for insight. They should be carefully profiled to ensure they are representative of your current/desired audiences.
  • Rewards and incentives are used to keep members engaged and motivated to continue completing activities. These can come in a wide variety of forms depending on your audience, brand and products and should be carefully considered to keep your members feeling as though there’s something in it for them.
  • Staff resources & consultancy need to be factored in to smoothly implement and manage the ongoing maintenance of an insight community. This can be broken down as follows:
    • Insight consultancy is essential to turn data into insight. This should be a primary consideration as it is integral to ensuring your findings are actionable.
    • Community managers help to manage your members and maintain the health of your community long-term, which directly affects how engaged they are and the potential quality of their responses/activities
    • Survey scripters & designers are an often-underestimated commodity! Your surveys and their logic should be air-tight, for which you’ll need a survey scripter to design and test. Ideally, scripters will not test their own designs. It’s also worth noting that qualitative activities will often also need scripting and testing.
    • Community moderators are needed to interact with community members, ask probing questions, and otherwise explore topics.
    • Front-end development & design. Insight communities are important touchpoints between brands and highly-engaged groups of their customers. Because of this, a community must embody a brand’s values and visual identity. Through creative and innovative front-end development, an insight community can become a powerful engagement tool for brands.
    • Back-end development & admin. From a development perspective, insight communities and research communities are comparable to a small-scale social media platform. Each deployment of a community might be different, even If using the same platform. This might be due to tools already used that need to be integrated or custom development needs for projects.
  • Reports & outputs. An often-overlooked yet essential piece of the puzzle is the ability to report effectively on data, observations, and insights. Data visualisation can help highlight trends and anomalies in data, making it more useful and more likely to result in actionable insight. Reporting methods and tools also help to communicate findings to senior management and key stakeholders.
  • Socialising data resources. One step further than reporting; socialising data refers to communicating it meaningfully to stakeholders and the wider business in a way that really allows them to understand results and implement positive change. Simple and clear visualisation is often a highly effective way of achieving this. Branded infographics, animations, and videos can help to tell a story and align feedback with company values and goals across teams and departments.

How to develop a customer insight strategy

To develop an effective customer insight strategy, you can ask yourself a series of questions to help you understand your goals and desired outcomes, as well as other details of your programme. This ensures success and a good ROI for your project. However, insight communities are versatile and capable of fulfilling a wide variety of objectives, so factor this into your strategy. You might want to achieve one specific thing now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your insight community to achieve other things in the future.

What is the purpose of your insight community?

What do you want to get out of this? Do you just want to listen to what your customers are saying, or do you have a specific objective/purpose for the community? For example, if your end goal is to improve customer experience, you might end up studying multiple touchpoints using diary study tools. You might use A/B concept testing, heatmapping or eye tracking tools to enhance marketing & comms. You might have less specific goals, such as de-risking strategic decision making, or driving innovation, for which you could use a combination of activities. In reality, you’ll use a wide variety of tools and techniques for any given objective, but asking these questions early on will allow you to plan your insight community accordingly.

Who am I going to recruit and how will I recruit them?

The answer to this may seem obvious; your insight community should be filled with your customers. However, certain objectives might require non-customers. You might want to find out why consumers choose a competitor’s offering to better understand how to target and win them as customers. You might be developing new products or services aimed at a slightly different demographic to your main product line. You’ll also need to understand where and how to recruit members, as well as your budgets and resource allocated to this task.

How will I incentivise and reward my members?

What will motivate my members to participate and what budget do I have to support this? Different brands and products generate different profiles of customer, and this needs to be factored into rewards and incentives. For example, the customer base of a luxury car brand might be more affluent, and usual financial incentives (prize draws & vouchers) might not be enough to motivate them to remain engaged and complete activities. Access to brand-related experiences or exclusive early access to news, features or products would likely be more effective options in this case.

What kinds of activities will I run?

Do I want to keep my members tightly focussed on things like surveys, or do I want more open-ended discussion? These questions tie back into the purpose of your insight community. What you’re trying to achieve will dictate the types of activities you’ll run. In likelihood, you’ll use most activities types at least once at some point, but it’s important to have an idea of which activities you’ll run most frequently so you can factor it into key decisions and your strategy as a whole.

How to get started: step-by-step guide

  1. Determine your goals and objectives: Having an intimate knowledge of this from the start will help to guide your strategy and keep it focused on generating the results you want. It’ll also be key to each of the following steps in this list.
  2. Define your audience: An insight community is nothing without members! Plan out your audience, how you’ll recruit them and how you’ll keep them engaged. Aiming to keep relevant personas highly engaged is how to ensure quality results.
  3. Identify activity types: Determined by your goals, the activity types you’ll be relying on most might mean certain platforms or partners are more suited to your project.
  4. Pick your platform: A modern and comprehensive insight community will need to be run on a specialised platform, designed to handle large member bases and numbers of activities. It’s important to choose an appropriate platform, and don’t forget to factor in consultancy, community management and project management. Remember, your community will be an extension of your brand. Your insight community should carry the exact look and feel you’ve worked hard to cultivate in your brand’s other touchpoints.
  5. Recruit members: Time to start recruiting members! Adhering to your previously defined strategy, you can now start building the membership base of your community. This might take a little time, so factor this into any timescale planning of your projects.
  6. Run activities! Now the fun begins. You’ve written a solid strategy and recruited relevant and engaged members. Time to start generating some actionable insight!
A screenshot of ResearchBods community insight platform, Ex-plor

Book your demo of ex-plor...

Book your demo