<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=2061863960506697&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Higher Logic Blog - Banner

How to Create an Online Community Using Market Research

Written by Joshua Paul | on December 2, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Tips for using market research to start a great online community.

Planning a private social network for customers or members takes a lot more than translating the features that you use on Facebook into an enterprise environment. Once you have interviewed customers and staff about their problems, how they use the Internet, and the information that is most valuable to them, you can conduct surveys to confirm your interview data. Next, it is time to use primary market research to prioritize the characteristics of your online community.

One of the most effective ways to use to market research to prioritize functions of your online customer community is a technique known as a Kano analysis. Giving your target audiences a list of features and asking them to rank them leads to distorted data about what is important to your customers.

The Kano model breaks down your online community into components based on its impact on customer or member satisfaction. I like this approach because it is easy to execute and analyze, while giving you deep data into your members' highest priorities and expectations.

Prioritizing Online Community Features with Kano

Here is a simple explanation of how a Kano analysis helps you prioritize your constituents' needs:

Using a Kano Analysis When Planning an Online Customer or Member Community

Here are the five steps you can use to perform a Kano analysis to categorize your online community features:

Step #1) Identify Top Problems & Solutions

Use interviews to identify trends in the types of problems that your staff and customers are facing. Then, survey a larger sample to validate that interview data.

Example of a customer or member problem: Customers are not aware of the support programs available to them. Solution: Customer can receive manual and automated emails with information of value to them.

Step #2) Create Question Pairs

Once you have a list of 5-10 top customer or member problems, you can begin developing your survey. Kano analysis involves a special kind of survey where each characteristic (or problems solved) is turned into a pair of questions using a specific format. One of the questions in the pair will be functional (what if this feature existed) and the other will be dysfunctional (what if this feature did not exist). Here are some examples:

If the characteristic is to enable email campaigns and automated notifications to be sent to online community member, the question pair might look like the following.

Functional: How would you feel if XYZ organization's online community emailed you relevant information and content notifications?

Dysfunctional: How would you feel if XYZ organization's online community did not email you relevant information and content notifications?

This methodology uses simple, but consistent, answer options for the survey. So, the question and answers for a single question pair would look like this:

How would you feel if XYZ organization's online community emailed you relevant information and content notifications?

I like it that way
I expect it that way
I am neutral
I can live with it that way
I dislike it that way

How would you feel if XYZ organization's online community did not email you relevant information and content notifications?

I like it that way
I expect it that way
I am neutral
I can live with it that way
I dislike it that way

Step #3) Survey a Sample of Your Customer Base

Next you'll want to send the survey to a sample of your members or customers. You can get great data from a relatively small sample (20-30 responses is enough). It is not necessary to survey your entire membership or customer base.

Tip: Make sure that, if you are planning an online community for your entire customer base or membership, you survey a cross-section of your entire audience rather than only a single segment.

Step #4) Process Your Online Community Data

The goal of the survey is to determine which of the following categories each online community characteristic will fall into.

  1. Mandatory Features - Must be in your community
  2. Exciters and Delighters - Didn't know they wanted, but would love it
  3. Linear (or one dimensional) Features – The more the better
  4. Indifferent Features – No impact on customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction
  5. Reverse Qualities – Would hurt customer satisfaction if included
  6. Questionable – Contradicting results need to be looked into further

As you see, each grouping has implications when it comes to its impact on customer or member satisfaction and, in turn, the usage and success of your online community. Use the following Kano evaluation chart to decode the survey results:

Online Community Planning Using Kano Analysis Market Research

When the survey is complete, you'll be able to assign each response for each feature a letter based on the matrix above. Here is an example of a single response using the survey question from the steps above.

How would you feel if XYZ organization's online community emailed you relevant information and content notifications?

I like it that way

How would you feel if XYZ organization's online community did not email you relevant information and content notifications?

I dislike it that way

Following the evaluation matrix, this function would receive a letter score of ‘L' which stands for linear. This means that though the characteristic is not a must-have, the more of this characteristic that is in your online community, the more satisfied your customers will be.

Step #5) Analyze Your Results

After you have run the survey results through the Kano evaluation table, you will begin the final step with all of your survey responses each having given a letter score to every feature. You will then tally up each letter for each feature. It will look something like this:

Online Community Features Prioritization Example Using Kano Analaysis

From the sample chart above you can determine the following:

Built-in email engine – Though not required, the more administrators can send emails and community members can receive email and content notifications from their online community, the higher the customer satisfaction will be.

Combined discussions forums and listserv – You have two customer populations. One doesn't need combined forums and listservs, but would like it. The other requires this features to be part of your online community. It may be that this group is busy people or tech savvy.

Online store – This is a feature that your customers would not have thought of on their own for your private social network, but would be very happy if it was included in the platform so that they could easily purchase, rate, and discuss training and other virtual products.

Tip: If you have two categorizations that are almost tied for the top score in a feature, it means, not only are both important, but that you have two distinct user populations. It is amazing what you can learn from this approach!

Using a Kano analysis to prioritize the problems that your private online community will solve for your customer or members, will not only give you a data-driven look into how to achieve maximum customer satisfaction, but also give you actionable insight as to which features to roll out first, second, and third in a phased launch.

Online Community Takeaway

There is a difference between creating an online community for employees, customers, or members and creating a successful online community for your target audiences. By using market research techniques like interviews, confirmatory surveys, and Kano analysis, you are giving your social business platform the greatest chance of success out of the gate because you are basing its design and the problems it will solve for your customers or members on actual market data.

Tips for developing a great online customer community strategy.

Topics: Engagement, Online Community

There are 0 Comments.
Share Your Thoughts.

Subscribe to the blog by email

Subscribe to the blog by RSS

rssHigher Logic Blog Feed

Recent posts

We're Featured

Association Universe