Setting up a new insight platform is an exciting time for both researchers and stakeholders. A well-set-up platform provides a wealth of opportunities to gather high-quality, directly actionable insights that all stakeholders need to make successful business decisions. It can mark the start of a meaningful and ongoing two-way conversation with research participants, and so it is important that the platform is set up in a way that enables stakeholders to achieve success.
In any undertaking, it pays to start out by identifying what the end goal is, and in setting up an insight platform this goal isn’t going to be the same in all cases. You might have come across SMART objective setting before, and in fact if you have, you may well think it outdated. However, it provides us with an easy and sensible approach to thinking about what we want to achieve from your insight platform by encouraging us to be ‘specific’ about what successful outcome needs to be. We need to be clear and honest about what we need, and perhaps what is ‘achievable’ for us.
|Setting up a brand-new insight platform is an exciting endeavour, as a well-set-up platform provides great opportunities for interesting, high-quality research to take place.|
Do you need responses from a wide range of consumers on scale that need to be achieved quickly to drive real-time business decisions, or do you need to reach a small but highly-engaged core of customers who will help you get to the root of what is driving consumer behaviour? Do you need both of these things at different times, or is your goal to give your customer a voice and to be led by them?
At FlexMR, we see all of these variations of what an insight platform can be, and all of them have the potential to work fantastically well; but the key to success is recognising which one is right for your needs before you set out to create it, and being unclear on the objective of the insight platform can be one of the first stumbling blocks that leads to research failure.
Identifying your Participants
Another key factor to consider is who your participants should be. If you are recruiting a permanent database of members then it’s important not to become overly focussed on representing your customer or desired population profile exactly – you may only have 2% of your business in one segment, but you’ll need to consider how to achieve response rates that carry significance if you are going to target this group.
You’ll also need to consider what kind of research methods you are likely to employ, as this is also going to determine who, and how many, you recruit. Whether recruiting a customer sample, a mixed or an exclusively general population sample – the answer to ‘how many do I need’ is often ‘as many as you can get’ and that’s not actually a bad way to recruit. The times when success is missed are often where too much thought (the unattainably specific sample) or not enough thought (the ‘sounds about right’ sample) leave you struggling to achieve your aims.
It may in fact be the case that you don’t need a permanent sample at all, bringing participants to your insight platform only when needed, but this is also important to identify, as in this case, success will hinge on the ease of access to the research tasks and how you utilise the insight platform in relation to other platforms such as your social media and CRM, and you may need to plan how this will be delivered.
The Importance of Timing
A common mistake we see can be getting the timing wrong on the launch of a new insight platform. This can happen when those responsible for managing the insight platform are beholden to launching, but there is no link to upcoming research and nobody is in a position to guide the helm of this new ship.
This desire to ‘get going anyway’ is often driven from higher up the chain, but should be pushed back on when it has the capacity to negatively affect the success of the insight platform. For your platform to be a success you need to be ready to engage your research participants, or have someone who can do that for you.
Equally damaging, however, can be the perpetual holding back of a launch, as this has the potential to lose stakeholder interest and organisational motivation. In either case, the remedy is to seek support and take action – if you don’t have research to put through your platform then you must make some. It will engage participants, help you plan for future projects, give you examples to use to encourage stakeholders interest, and might even throw up some ‘unknown unknowns’.
Likewise, if you don’t have the time to commit to it yourself, get help – perhaps from an enthusiastic junior member of the team, or by moving some budget to allow for external support. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it does have to happen – an insight platform where nothing is happening and nobody is championing it will not be a success.
Adding Heart and Soul
Finally, a key ingredient of success is sincerity. Whether your insight platform is going to be a place of community where you are actively joining in a conversation with permanent members, or a panel where you are reaching out with quant questions to your participants, what you ask of them and how you respond needs to be real. You mustn’t be the friend who just waits for their turn to speak: your role is to listen and care what your participants tell you, and how engaged they are in the research will be a reflection of how engaged you are.
|The beauty of an insight platform is that is grows and evolves alongside both research and business objectives, so even if a platform started out unsuccessfully, it can grow into its success.|
It’s also crucial to hold up your end of the bargain – if their involvement has been sold to them as a two-way conversation then you must feedback on what you did as a result of their responses. Some of the best platforms we see are those where the lead moderator is visible and known to the participants, even if only known through the surveys they send out. This is achieved through having a warm and sincere tone and language in research invitations and other communications, through sharing feedback, and by ensuring that you don’t treat the participants as a commodity.
Setting Up Your Platform
This guidance will hopefully be useful to those launching an insight platform, but what if you already have one and some of the messages above are ringing true as things you have missed out on doing or pitfalls you have already fallen foul of? The answer to that is it’s never too late to start setting your platform up for success.
All of the advice here can be brought in to play further down the line – the beauty of an insight platform is that it evolves and grows. Perhaps the final advice for achieving success with an insight platform therefore is not to expect that it must and can only be achieved from the start – some of the best platforms we know started out unsuccessfully.