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February 2011

An Overview of Market Research Online Community Technology and Services

By: Megan Kuek, John Leahy and Chris Rowen

Brief research news: The recent report on research industry trends released by GreenBook (GRIT) has stated that among the prelisted research techniques and approaches, market research online communities (MROCs) is one of the most adopted technology-based techniques (35%), followed then by data mining (32%) and social media analytics (29%). Future adoption of MROCs is also favourable as the top two emerging technology, where research buyers (52%) are marginally leading the way in utilizing this technique as compared to research providers (46%).

Quick introduction to online community: MROCs are available in various designs, compositions and lifecycles. They are generally customised based on pre-defined marketing and research objectives in order to comprehensively engage the online participants and uncover richer and deeper levels of marketing and brand insights. There are some distinctions between online communities designed solely for research purposes versus commercial or marketing activities:

  • Research communities – Can be both quantitative and qualitative in nature, e.g. weekly discussion, activities and surveys are launched to the entire community, or targeting specific segments to gather insights around a range of research orientated topics, be they for B2C or B2B purposes.
  • Branded communities – Consumers can actively engage with the company / brand, with an opportunity to participate in online surveys and discussions to assist the company / brand in R&D, idea generation, co-creation, testing hypotheses, evaluating advertising campaigns or marketing initiatives, etc.

Whatever your objectives are, be they marketing, research or both, one size certainly does not fit all – that's the basic rule of thumb when designing your own customized online community platform. Let us quickly show you how it works!

Developing an online community via our “Panel Manager”: We would like to introduce to you our proprietary new panel management system i-Connect, a system that enables you to develop, profile, manage and reward a community of online members and participants, be it for marketing or research purposes, or both. This intuitive system is developed to ISO 26362 standards for panel management technology and resides on fast, highly secure and reliable data servers.

We offer a full suite of tailored services from concept to implementation and the ongoing management of your online community panel, with groups of willing participants who choose to opt-in, share opinions and participate in a variety of activities:

  • Marketing activities; direct mail and e-mail communications
  • Opinion sharing & social networking
  • Online quantitative surveys
  • Online qualitative discussions – live and over-time
  • Daily and weekly diarising
  • Online blogging
  • Forums and polls – administrator and user initiated
  • Competitions and rewards

Let's explore the process of establishing an online community :

The value of online communities: Our i-Connect panel management system enables you to deploy a community with ease, to profile members and match by participant data, to manage every aspect of the panel and its membership, and to reward members with a range of flexible solutions.

For researchers, you can manage your online research projects cost effectively while collecting sound research data and subsequently deeper and more reliable insights around your topic of investigation. For marketers and advertisers, it is a flexible approach that allows you to connect and engage with your brand's loyal consumers on a regular basis. This enables you to make more informed decisions in the execution of your marketing plans and to build strategic solutions that drive your business or brand forward.

Below are some of the benefits you can gain from establishing a community panel:

Let's get it started – building a vibrant online community: Every community needs a unique composition, therefore crafting a well-defined panel strategy and the implementation of suitable panel content can undoubtedly secure a better return on the marketing and research dollars any organisation is looking to invest. Our extensive experience in online communities and in database management means we understand the requirements for establishing and deploying your online community. The online community can be easily configured to suit any corporate style or linked from an existing website.

Please contact our client services team at cs@i-linkresearch.com to discuss further how we can design an approach specific to your online community needs, or find out more about our panel management services here.

GreenBook Research Industry Trends Report, Fall 2011

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