The following article is based on a recent presentation to the Northwest Educational Summit, an annual event hosted by the Northwest Chapter of the Insights Association.
When conducting ideation and insights initiatives, brands can overlook valuable internal assets. But these audiences are interested, engaged and sometimes even passionate about the product/service/experience, especially since they are likely to be directly affected by business decisions being made.
The first step for organizations is to think about which engaged audiences they might have access to. In addition to traditional sources (e.g. direct customers & B2B audiences) think about those who have volunteered their time with the organization, donated monetarily, been willing to give feedback in another survey/online post/research project, current and former employees, vendors and suppliers.
3 key groups to consider tapping into:
- EMPLOYEES: valuable resources on current programs, products & customer sentiment
- VOLUNTEERS: eager to improve the organization they are involved with
- DONORS: vocal brand advocates eager to contribute to brand development & initiatives
Use cases for engaged audience input include:
- Generate ideas on how to attract new customers
- Explore areas to improve
- Understand views of your competitive set
- Usability studies on new versions/advances in product/technology
- Beta testing concepts/ideas/technologies
- Understanding reasons customers have lapsed
Methodologies to involve them best:
- Anonymous surveys and online discussion boards for blind information-gathering about sensitive subjects
- Group discussions and interviews that make them feel valued as individuals as an essential part of the project (be sure to work with a 3rd party moderator/interviewer)
- Expert Ethnographies tap into them as experts to observe and understand their needs, pain points and ideas for improvement
Be respectful of these audiences with the following considerations:
- Make sure employees are rewarded for their time – research should ideally be incorporated into their workday. It can be especially effective to give them time off or an opportunity to leave work early to complete the interview
- Remember for volunteers that they donate their time and should be thanked generously for their voluntary feedback as well
- Donors often find value in meeting each other, networking & connecting with like-minded individuals. They also often appreciate being exposed to the findings/insights at the project’s conclusion
- For everyone, transparency is key; since these audiences will be affected by business decisions being made they will want to know how their input is being used. Share the outcome of the project and thank them for being a part of it!
Also remember, there are times to exclude engaged audiences from projects, such as:
- Blind studies
- When exploring an un-branded concept
- When looking for non/new users
- If you have concerns that engaged audiences’ experiences will bias them
Start thinking about who you/your clients have access to and how they might be included in your insights process!