The way we conduct research is constantly changing in accordance to the world around us. Influencing factors that would never have been a factor 5 years ago, are now essential to consider as they add another dynamic layer of understanding to our insights arsenal. With the ways in which we conduct market research changing, the platforms we conduct that research on must adapt too; so in order to build the best online insights platform, how do we cater for the ever-changing requirements of market research?
1. Support Diverse Research Methods
Building a platform that enables qualitative, quantitative and behavioural research tasks to be completed and recorded is essential to the success of a great online insights platform. With the number of research methods and techniques growing at a fast rate, allowing for a good number to be supported on your platform is crucial for the best chance of accurate insight generation.
There are many ways to build an insights platform that collects and sorts data; you only need to google the words ‘online insights platform’ in order to see a variety of takes on what an insights platform should be like. At FlexMR we have designed our InsightHub to support both quantitative and qualitative research tasks in order for our clients to gather the best quality and variety of data possible in order to generate accurate insights. The tools we have created are a blend of quant and qual research technology; traditional research methods that still work wonders today are survey and focus group research, however creative qualitative techniques such as concept sentiment tracking and beta testing can be done through our less traditional diary and smartboard tools. This range of methods keeps research engaging and thought-provoking for both researchers and participants, which is essential for a variety of data and lots of opportunities for insight generation.
However, this isn’t the only way in which research methods have been combined. FuelCycle is a virtual marketplace for research tools. A number of market research firms have joined together and offer their services through the FuelCycle app, so researchers can gain in-the-moment insights whenever and wherever they may be. This collaboration is entirely unique, and has the same effect as FlexMR’s InsightHub wherein researchers have a blend of research techniques at their fingertips for engaging data collection.
2. Facilitate Great UX for All Platform Users
Think about the ways in which your customers move around a website. Most of the time, they know what they’re looking for; though sometimes, they are just looking to browse. Either way, the usability of a website is key to the customers’ enjoyment; you don’t make it hard for your customers to find what they want on your website, so why would you do the same for your research platform?
Research participants will log in to your research platform either to complete a specific task, or just see what is available to them at the time. The better their user experience, the better quality (and more importantly, the more accurate) your data and insights will be. If you make it hard for participants to submit their answers, or too complicated so they can’t find their way to your research tasks in the first place, then you will either get frustrated, rushed answers or no answers at all.
The usability isn’t just beneficial for your research participants; it greatly impacts the work your researchers will do too, as the harder it is for researchers to moderate focus groups, programme surveys, conduct sentiment analysis or beta tests, and subsequently export the data for analysis, then the lesser quality analyses and insights you will gain from the research you conduct.
James Higham states in his paper Developing a research platform: Personal reflections, experience shows that distinction in research is built upon a strong and clear research platform, which requires an approach to research that is carefully planned and concerted.
3. Build and Maintain with Innovation in Mind
Every market research platform that is around today was once at the peak of innovation when it first appeared on the scene. The key is to first identify which innovative aspect of the insights industry you wish to incorporate within your online insights platform, and then keep up with innovative trends and evolve your product to keep up with the demand.
Innovation can be tricky to pin down, especially when there are so many different market research platforms out there already. So how do you make yours innovative in order to compete with the rest?
Keeping up with the latest technology, the latest research trends, and latest consumer behaviours will help in this regard. Technology such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality allow for better concept testing and sentiment analysis research to be conducted. However it isn’t just AR and VR that are transforming the industry, automation is a very appealing concept for many within the Insights Industry. We already know that bots and chatbots can be used to take over research tasks that require no human empathy, however with advancements in Machine Learning and AI, soon their reach may extend to moderation and other interactive research tasks that might normally be conducted by humans. This is definitely a trend to watch in the future in order to realise and take advantage of its full untapped potential.
As far as research trends go, keeping up with research professionals on social media and in articles has informed me of many innovative research trends that are taking the industry by storm; Betty Adamou’s recent publication on Games and Gamification in Market Research for example, is especially exciting as it innovates typical market research techniques in order to enhance market research engagement.
One research debate that is going on at this present time within the industry is the effectiveness of behavioural research techniques such as social listening in the accurate prediction of consumer behaviour. Arguments for and against are being had over social media, research magazines, webinars and podcasts, and will go on until a research method that yields continuously accurate predictive results whether that be with behavioural research techniques or other research techniques entirely. Until the predictive need has been met, there will be arguments for and against each research method under the sun.
Of course there are more aspects of an online insights platform that you should consider, however, in order to create a successful online insights platform that continues to be relevant throughout the years, there are three key rules you need to keep in mind. Allowing a mix of market research methods to be conducted on an innovative insights platform with great user experience will open your users up to more opportunities for better quality insights that are generated from a variety of sources.
The original version of this article appeared on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.