Five key things to consider when your business does online research

Posted on Posted in Budget, Business Strategy, Change Management, Customer Relationships, Finance, Implementation, IT, Lancashire, Learning, Marketing Planning, Operational Management, Research for Business, UK

Nothing beats having a proper chat with your audiences, but online methods are now allowing business to understand the thoughts and behaviour of customers and suppliers in far more immediate, and often revelatory, ways. At accede we have been experimenting with different research approaches and we have notice that online research works well but you  do need to consider

Here are five reasons why you should try online research:

1. Time to reflect

Allowing customers and suppliers to reply to questions in their own time, from their own PCs, tablets or mobiles, allows for a much greater degree of reflection than most standard research techniques. The richness of insights generated can be impressive, and participants really appreciate the time and space to explore important ideas.

2. ‘Safe’ spaces

Anonymous, private online spaces can be an empowering environment for customers – and one where many people feel increasingly comfortable. The anonymity of much online interaction works especially well when exploring sensitive or personal topics.  These insights can address important gaps in offline work.

3. Reaching ‘time poor’ respondents

In practical terms, online research enables us to engage participants who might not be prepared to take part in ‘standard’ research sessions. In a recent project exploring messaging for a  charity, we were able to access the viewpoints from very specific typologies within their supporter-base.

4. It’s not all work, work, work

Increasingly, online techniques aren’t just about typing text into reply boxes. Sharing videos or pictures, creating online picture montages, annotating documents with virtual ‘sticky notes’, co-creating and ranking other people’s ideas – the social side of online research means participants enjoy taking part. And when people are having fun they are often more honest and more prepared to give their time.

5. Building relationships

Online Communities – where participants engage for a number of months with a series of questions and topics – allow for a shift in the relationship between researcher, client and participant. Participants become more involved in the topics and start to proactively share information. They reflect on their behaviour and opinions, creating a very different type, and level, of insight.

Examples of when to use online research:

  • To understand individual behaviours or responses – whether that’s to a new campaign, approach or tool. It’s easy to set up questions so participants don’t see others’ responses until they have posted their thoughts, so you can feel confident all responses are undiluted.
  • To brainstorm ideas and solutions – we worked with a health charity to explore content ideas for a new support service for new parents. They were able to build on ideas to develop content themes and share experiences at a very deep level.
  • To get a better understanding of your supporters or users – asking for photos, blogs, even video uploads can help you get dramatically closer to your audiences.
  • To explore the experiences of service users – both understanding users’ current usage patterns and reasons, and also generating ideas for improvement.

If you are researching for your business right now I  am sure you can add to the list , but if your new to this ( which some people are in terms of online research ) there are a number of events you can attend. Typical topics like using social media to collate opinions and research response through to creating your own surveys are all available on-line or in specialist sessions for more personal face to face interactions. In a recent networking event there was a talk about “CSR” from Chorley FM at the Chorley tweet up meet. Donna Beckett the host of the #chorleytweetup is the biggest Social Media fanatic I have met, even beating some of the people i have met at national events. In fact when she not on Social Media she is one of Lancashire’s best Solicitors.

Also locally ( Lancashire) the have been some great meetings from Talking Tea Parties have held some interesting sessions on  Introduction To Online Marketing and Social Media For Beginners which are great help during and after researching. Social media is seen as the fastest way to get to your customer, suppliers and business followers. Sarah Bennett mentioned the session have been over subscribed and Sarah and here partner are looking to take the session on the road, so they could be in a town near you.

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