Our checklist from experts: Building a team the right way

Building a team that works well together and makes customer-centricity a priority benefits the customers. But how do you build a market research team like that, and how do you make sure you have the right players?

We’ll dive into this topic in this article and compiled tips from experts around the market research, marketing and insights industry.

Article sections

To get started, you want to make sure others in the company know what you are doing.

“You can sense there’s a lot of excitement coming from all parts of the company,” said Maher Beltaifa, a human insights manager, about building the insights team at Faurecia, on an episode of “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.” “And people have always wanted to do that and be intimate with their users and know what’s going through their mind whenever they are using the products and services and how they can improve on those experiences.”

A lot goes into building teams. Let’s dive into that topic in this article. We’ve interviewed a number of experts from the industry who have built successful teams to share their wisdoms with you here.

Collaboration

Building teams that work together can help us understand our customers and continuously improve the customer experience.

“It’s really regardless of what teams you have,” said Tara Robertson, chief marketing officer at Teamwork, on an episode of “Reel Talk”.

“I will lean on my statement that I’m allergic to silos,” she said. “If you are a customer-driven business, customer insights needs to be sitting at the foundation of what you do.”

In some companies, that’s an insights team. In other companies, another team might be leading the charge, Tara said.

“That doesn’t mean you can do it in a silo,” she said. “There’s all that heavy lifting going on to make sure we are aligned with our customer experience team, our customer success team, the product team.”

Read next: Customer health: How do you measure relationships with your customers?

The alignment is necessary so teams:

  • Don’t recreate the wheel.
  • Are aligned on the things they are asking for from customers in surveys.
  • Get the insights from the internal team before anyone puts a survey out into the market

"If you are a customer-driven business, customer insights needs to be sitting at the foundation of what you do."

You can get more buy-in when other departments understand what’s going on and how it can benefit them, said Jenn Vogel, vice president of marketing at Voxpopme. “We are on this journey together instead of us saying, ‘Hey, we’ve done this research.’ “

Tara added: “I’ll even go so far and say that the customer experience becomes so much better.”

Working collaboratively helps you build something that every department can benefit from. Surveys and questions that are asked of customers at different touchpoints can be aligned when teams work together.

“We are doing a survey in marketing right now, and we will share feedback with product if we are getting feedback on the product,” Tara said. “We are going to want that and put it into our product road map.”

The same goes for customer experience.

“If we have an unhappy customer or a thrilled customer, we have that opportunity to create an even better experience,” Tara said.

Speaking up

Team communication is essential to make it work.

At PepsiCo, everyone should feel like they can give their opinion fearlessly, said Jennifer Saenz, global chief marketing officer at PepsiCo during her chat with Zappi President Ryan Barry, at the 2021 Virtual Insights Summit.

“When you see an outage you have to speak up,” she said. “I wouldn’t hold it in and let it fester because you can make an impact.”

Thinking like an owner can help with speaking up, Jennifer said. When there’s a problem or an idea owners certainly would speak up. Anyone should feel empowered to do that.

“There are things about an organization that implies,” she said. “One, are we willing to listen? Or are we so hierarchical? Our hope would be that those cultural values showcase that we want to listen and want you to state your opinions – act like an owner.”

But also voice your opinion with purpose.

“Saying something is a problem is a step, but I also think it’s important that people take the responsibility trying to solve things,” she said.

Creative excellence

Jennifer’s teams focus on creative excellence to improve.

That includes:

  • How to manage the agency
  • The way the team learns
  • How to brand position

“Creative excellence is where we spend a lot of time and energy to make sure we have strong brands that resonate with consumers,” Jennifer said.

Testing

Testing is also important, but perhaps more important is why A won in an A/B test than that A won.

“So the next time you can do an even smarter version,” Jennifer said. “Make sure you are doing that reflective exercise. And that you go in there intelligently. Being constantly learning helps you.”

Understanding where your brand can go and where it shouldn’t is also is important to know when evaluating trends, strategies, and the next campaigns.

As you are experimenting make sure you understand the scope of what’s being tested. Also, make sure you are involving the right people in the company. Who is closest to the customer.

Consider which market is the best for a pilot.

“Figure out who is the best partner to start,” Jennifer said. “It’s a bit of shopping it around. There’s an aspect of change management.”

Diversity

Our research can't be inclusive unless our industry is.

Kalil Vicioso, a board member at Insights in Color discussed the importance of diversity on insights teams on this “Reel Talk.” In a multicultural America, it’s important to reflect society in our research. In part, that can be accomplished by having the right team in place.

“The important piece in this is to identify and find talent,” he said.

Consider visiting the Insights in Color career corner. 

There are many ways for people to become insights professionals or marketers. People can come from a variety of backgrounds and professional experiences.

Zoe Dowling, principal research program manager at Microsoft, said ” the richness of disciplines that we have really helps elevate the industry overall.”

Jason Wright, president of the Washington Commanders, said that he hires with diversity in mind and that includes backgrounds and ways of thinking as well.

“I don’t want everyone who has been in the NFL their entire career – you get the same old recycled ideas,” Jason said. “We are trying to rebuild a historic fan base and need different ideas.”

"Remember that diversity drives better business decisions."

Tasks that teams need to consider in their analysis

Tara said in a clip played on the show that teams should analyze the right amount of answers from surveys.

“You have to understand how many responses you actually have to read to get to some form of significance,” she said. “Reading and digging into those answers is what creates empathy.”

That takes a team approach: Who is doing what, what information gets shared, and when, to drive the best results, while keeping the team on the right forward path together.

For example, one team member can take the analysis in the Voxpopme video survey platform. They can read the automatic transcripts of responses and find answers by topic or sentiment. With the click of a button, a highlight reel can be created to share with your team and executives.

“You really want to understand what people are saying,” Tara said. “Yes, you can run it through a tool but spending the time to go through it, whether it’s an hour or a day, gets you those insights.”

From there, you can use what was learned and add it into your campaigns, talk tracks, and product updates to create value for the customer.

What does it mean to drive value?

“My belief is that marketers shouldn’t just create demand, but create value,” Tara said. “Yes, I do have to care about the demand funnel, acquisition, and growth. And everything in between. But what I care the most about is that value.”

Think of value as something that is useful to the customer.

“What is it that people are hiring us for?” Tara said. “They have a pain, and they need to solve that pain. So when we think about value, we need to think about how do we make this person’s life better?”

Demand rooted in value creates lifetime value. 

"My belief is that marketers shouldn't just create demand, but create value"

“That’s where I think customer research becomes so important,” Tara said.

In addition, this is where qualitative methods — like video surveys —  become essential. Data can tell teams a certain level of information, but data can’t tell why a customer feels a certain way.

Companies will be most successful when they understand:

  • the customer’s problem.
  • what the customer’s motivation is to buy.
  • what the customer’s dreamer state is.

Understanding customers’ personal problems can help us create more personalized experiences.

“Personalizing is a huge challenge,” Jenn said. But it’s one that can be overcome by understanding your customer through surveys that tell you the “why.”

You also can personalize experiences by thinking about how personas are alike. Which ones overlap? In essence, you are personalizing for a group of similar people.

“Where are the similarities in the problems they are trying to solve?” Jenn said. “And then work from there to personalize.”

Mimi Swain, Ring’s Chief Revenue Officer sits right at the center of marketing, sales, and customer teams, and said teams can be successful when they see things from the customer perspective.

“Try to understand the levers of the customer,” she said during an interview with Jenn during the 2021 Virtual Insight Summit. “What’s a motivator for them?”

When customer preferences change

As Voxpopme CEO Dave Carruthers mentioned in this article, some consumer behavior changes are knee-jerk reactions to a current, time-limited situation. Others are more long-term and evolving. The trick is to figure out what’s what, which can be done by staying connected with your customers.

“I’m definitely a fan that a survey isn’t one and done — you get the results and then you go and build,” Tara said. “Customer insights should be an always-on thing. It should be something you are constantly looking at, improving on, and iterating on.”

To have insights always on, ask customers at the moment or right after an experience. James Dodkins discussed this concept in this article.

Also, look at changes in your NPS score, but not just to be able to say you got a certain score. Look at it to see who the happy and unhappy customers are, Tara said. You can reach out to each for different reasons:

  • Happy customers: Perhaps they’d leave a review or would let you create a case study.
  • Unhappy customers: Find out what they would like to see improved.

You also can think of the NPS as the quantitative (the what) piece of your insights analysis. Then you’ll have to figure out the qualitative piece (the why customers are feeling one way or another).

With an always-on approach, there should be little to no surprises in customer behavior, Tara said.

I'm not a fan of using NPS just to be able to say our NPS score is this. I'm a fan of identifying who are the unhappy customers and then follow up with them."

Where does customer research fit in terms of priorities?

“It’s probably one of the most important priorities,” Tara said about where it fits in her first 90 days in a new CMO role. “I can’t make an impact on the organization if I don’t understand what I need to be looking for, and that means getting on the phone with customers, looking at the customer journey, understanding our drop-off points”

And sometimes you just have to listen and let the customer feedback and thoughts sink in.

“That can be hard. … I’m a very action-oriented person,” Tara said.

What skills and what mindset should people have?

“I take functional skills off the table for this,” Tara said. “If you are hiring somebody for a job, you have to assume that they can do the job at a functional level.”

Then soft skills come to the table:

  • Do they have a growth mindset?
  • Is there empathy and the ability to listen?
  • Are they customer-driven?
  • Do they leave their ego at the door?
  • Will they contribute to team camaraderie? Chemistry matters.

On the hard skill side: Are they analytical, which doesn’t mean they have to be an analyst but they do need to understand the data.

When a market research team can look at the data it helps us understand whether an effort is worth it.

"We are all just human and want to work for companies or buy from companies that listen to us."

“I think it’s the mix of functional expertise, soft skills, analytical and willingness to learn,” Tara said.

But you also don’t want to be too robotic in your decision-making, Tara said.

“I still do believe that those risks are grounded in insights,” she said.

Insights executive Khary Campbell stressed the importance of a high-performing market research team on this episode of Reel Talk.

Performance comes out in the metrics, but also the behaviors of market research team members, Khary said.

“Where it came out to me was when I joined a disruptive innovation team at General Mills. They said we are going to give you a different business model,” Khary said. “We don’t want you to bring us another cereal in a box. Other than that you are free to create new approaches, new methods and new ways for us to assess it.”

And the market research team realized they had to operate outside of their titles.

"We kind of forgot our titles and we started operating as a team with one shared consciousness."

“We realized we had to assume each other’s responsibilities in some places,” he said. “So our behaviors changed. It was no longer a conversation of ‘I don’t know. I have to wait for our finance person.’ And it goes to ‘I know they are busy and why don’t you and I get together and take our best shot at it.'”

Of course, still double-check it with that person, but give it your best shot.

“And what happened was we kind of forgot our titles,” he said. “And we started operating as a team with one shared consciousness.”

Jorge Calvachi, a global thought leader, director of insights at La-Z-Boy, and member of the Voxpopme advisory board, reminded us on “Reel Talk” that anyone – including individual contributors can act as leaders. 

The setup

Also, consider the setup of the team – especially for global teams. For example, Jo Munton, global insights senior manager at Avon, said on “Reel Talk” that the team runs global studies from a centralized location for categories, but also has teams in different markets.

“Avon has a number of top markets and we have research personnel in all of our top markets,” she said. “And that gives us that extra level of detail to those markets.”

Having strategic local representation can give teams a good starting point. For example, somebody in the UK might ask the insights lead in Poland if they think a certain idea might be of interest there. The team can then take it together from there.

Clarity of roles

Khary’s team had a very clear understanding of their combined goals and how they would operate together to reach them.

When it comes to having the right people in the right seats on a team, it’s important to communicate why a seat exists. What problem is that particular seat solving?

“It’s important to give people clear alignment on what their role is,” Tara said. “And what is the role clarity that they need to be successful? That’s equal responsibility for the manager and the employee, working together and defining Key Performance Indicators.”

The KPIs for some roles can be soft, and for some roles, they are more direct.

“Regardless of role, I’m a believer in putting a number around what people are responsible for,” Tara said. “And then building in the right performance review cycles. I don’t think once or twice a year is enough.”

When something isn’t going great, bring it up right away. And when they do something well, “shout it from the rooftop,” she said.

Accountability

David Cancel, then CEO of Drift, said during the 2021 Virtual Insight Summit, that autonomy and accountability are linked internally.

“Are we getting better at servicing our customers?” he said. “Are they happier? And we are seeing that in them buying more over time. Then we can give more autonomy.”

Working on making customers happier can also be achieved by reinventing processes when it helps be more customer-centric.

“That’s simple but it’s not easy,” David said. “It’s simple conceptually but it’s not easy to do because most of the processes we are taught are company-centric.”

This can also include finding new opportunities in existing markets.

“You always want competition, you want demand,” said David. “That means that there are customers. That means there’s money there.”

Read next: How to spot and use new trends with consumer insights

Autonomy comes with equal parts accountability toward doing what's best for customers.

Mentorship

Having a mentor who has similar experiences to yours and has been a member of a market research team can also be helpful, said Shannon Danzy, director of research and strategy at Rally – a communications firm.

“There’s something that is unique about being able to talk to somebody who has had similar experience as you,” she said.

Understanding the history

Everyone wants to make their mark, but learning the company history is important before jumping in, said Vice President of Global Insights at McDonald’s Michelle Gansle on an episode of “Reel Talk.”

“One of the first tips and advise I was given is that McDonald’s has been around for a long time so respect the culture and history,” Michelle said. “Before you make your mark learn what’s working and what’s great in the system already.”

Michelle said that at the beginning of her tenure at McDonald’s she talked to hundreds of people to understand the current situation, which can also help with prioritization.

“Where should I focus my energies?” she said. “It’s been fun. McDonald’s calls themselves McFamily and it really has been a family.”

Nick Graham, global head of insights and analytics at Mondelez International, joined us on “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show” about nine months into his new job at Mondelez.

“The biggest thing is to get used to the culture of the company,” he said. “Get to know the people and the culture and how things operate in reality versus on paper. There’s often the unspoken rules of the road that you don’t know when you come into a company.”

Read next: Voxpopme Integrates Zoom to Speed up Long-Form Qualitative Research

Unlearning together

As strategies and tactics that work evolve and change in markets, it’s also important to understand what works currently and with that what should be focused on today!

Sometimes a market research team has to unlearn tactics and practices. And sometimes a team has to relearn them in a different context, David said. Keep in mind that many product features and offerings can be easily copied so you have to build a brand to stand out.

“Now as we are scaling the company, we are re-learning some of those things slightly differently,” he said. “It’s all about applying the context of when to apply lessons.”

Many people have experiences throughout their careers that were applied to specific situations in specific companies. But can they be applied to similar but not identical situations in other companies? Not always. Plus, customer behavior may have changed since the first experience.

“It may have been a different time, different size company and things like that,” Dave said. “The only thing that’s universal is how you treat people and lead people. That part is pretty universal because we are all humans and have the same basic needs.”

Culture as a market research team grows

Unlearning and re-learning also include the right culture. Admittedly, it’s hard work – especially as companies grow. Drift, which launched in 2015, currently had around 500 employees in early 2021 and was already looking to grow to 750, Dave said.

“That’s where I spend all of my time,” Dave said. “We’ve had a culture of teaching from the very beginning.”

As new employees of the market research team come in make sure you share how the company thinks about:

  • Building a brand
  • Writing
  • Communications
  • etc.

“It paid off for us as we scaled pretty quickly,” he said.

Also, consider how you empower the market research team to share successes with the wider company. For example, Drift has a weekly game-show type even every Friday where different teams can share successes.

Voxpopme has a Slack channel called #boom where employees give high fives to others to highlight internal successes.

You can be an incredible leader on an incredible team in a really messed up company.

That does happen and culture is built and maintained on many levels of an organization.

“I believe most people are inherently good and sometimes our environments change the way we behave,” Ryan said.

Collaborative leadership

It’s also good for leaders to ask for feedback. And to understand that leadership isn’t a license to disregard feedback.

“When you are put into a leadership role there’s a natural inclination to double down on that your decisions are correct,” said Rand Fishkin, CEO of SparkToro, on an episode of “Reel Talk.” “So you seek out information, data, and stories that put you in the best possible light.”

It’s okay and necessary for leaders as well to own up to mistakes, but some leaders double down on mistakes and claim it was intentional.

“A lot of this also comes back to those soft skills,” Tara said. “I want people to feel comfortable failing, and failing forward is so critically important.”

And sometimes a situation doesn’t work out, which can be for a variety of reasons, like a bad hire, the person isn’t a good fit with the team and so on.

But make sure there are no surprises and that communication channels are open and transparent, Tara said.

While we mostly discuss customer feedback on the blog, getting feedback from employees is also important.

“Use these same approaches with your team and follow-through,” Tara said.

“We are all just human and want to work for companies or buy from companies that listen to us,” Jenn said."When you are put into a leadership role there's a natural inclination to double down on that your decisions are correct."

Prioritization

Good teams also prioritize well together. Not everything has to be a full-blown project. And not everything has to be scrappy. It’s OK to find the right level of effort for any project.

“At the end of the day, there’s only so many people on the team and only so many resources to put against a project,” Jenn said. “So it’s important to identify efforts that have a high impact and low effort. Let’s do those first.”

To be truly customer-centric and do what’s best for our customers, we need high-performing teams. Building teams around functional and soft skills can help them work better together and constantly improve the customer experience.

Khary on his podcast episode talked about risk versus rigor. How much risk is involved in a project and how much effort do we truly have to put into it.

“That’s a nice way to frame it up,” he said. “You need to look at the priorities of your business and the priorities of your team and see what realistically can get done. And you need to look at what can potentially move the needle.”

Be clear about what your north star is and then have that ongoing conversation of what can make an impact and how you can tackle those projects in a realistic order.

"It's tough to deprioritize. For somebody on the other end that was very urgent for them."

Impact

“What can we control today and how much value is that going to add?” Khary said. “My team can deliver these five things this week and these two will bring real value.”

Jenn added that she loves the idea of deprioritizing tasks that don’t appear to bring value.

“Or find a way to make them more valuable,” she said.

She uses four quadrants to evaluate tasks and projects:

  • Urgent
  • Important
  • Not urgent
  • Not important

Be clear on if something is urgent and important, for example. When something is urgent but not important does it even need to get done? Those are conversations to be had in the prioritization.

“You want to do your due diligence because it’s tough to deprioritize,” Khary said. “For somebody on the other end that was very urgent for them.”

Also, keep in mind that some things are urgent but not for the right reasons. “You have to build that rapport and trust to be able to talk about it,” he said.

“You can’t just tell somebody you deprioritized the thing that’s most important to them,” she said. “Talk about it.”

Jean-Michel Hoffman, vice president of brand marketing at SoFi, said during his interview during the 2021 Virtual Insight Summit that people also get much more invested when they own the brand.

“You are much more focused on performance,” he said. “Owning the equity for the brand that you own – making sure the brand is set up that you are protecting its reputation and building its value.”

Like this article? Read more like it here. 

Ways to present data to help drive business results

The ways to present data from consumer insights certainly can be endless and, at times, can be driven by personal preference. But personal preference for how the data is presented doesn’t always mean it will resonate with the audience.

This article discusses ways to share stories with data to help drive action within your customer-first company, including:

What goes into storytelling with data?

A few items are worth considering when we want to present data meaningfully. That includes being clear about the story, knowing what details to include, understanding your audience, and more, which I discuss in this section.

"All data is people behaving with your company in some way."

It’s not the data; these are human beings we are talking about,” said Brad Dancer, SVP of global strategy and data analytics at WWE. “They are buying products, watching videos, whatever it might be. So don’t lose sight of that.”

Be clear about the story

Data should tell a story and not just be a data dump. Consider following this process:

  • Be clear upfront about what it is you are trying to accomplish
  • Ask the right questions that draw out the answers that can help you tell that meaningful story
  • Document answers in a way that allows you to tell that story
  • Keep an open mind when reviewing responses and determine the main story and sub-stories that are worth sharing
  • Outline the story you are trying to share, and what key points from the research need to be used
  • Determine how to share the data engagingly and use strategic content types – like video, graphics, the customers’ voice through video, etc.

Be picky about what to include

Stakeholders don’t need to know every little detail about the survey itself or how much time it took, but they need to know the findings and what it means to them to run a successful piece of the business.

For example, many researchers share their methodology prominently. I’ve done that, too, in our weekly consumer study articles. “Here’s how we did what I’m about to tell you.” But people likely care more about the result than how we got there.

“I will stand on this firmly: Stop presenting the methodology at the beginning of a presentation,” Brad said. “I’m amazed by the industry that we feel like we have to defend ourselves at the beginning of every presentation and talk about how we did it.”

Of course, Brad continues, we need to use the proper methodology in the project, but that doesn’t mean it should take center stage in a presentation to stakeholders. Indeed, you can answer questions about it if there are any.

“As soon as you put the methodology first, it opens up questions, especially from people who are already suspicious of what the data might say,” Brad said. “Let’s just get to what’s important.”

That also includes keeping it simple and short, Brad said.

"Get in and out with the point you want to make and back it up with data. But don't spend a lot of time on anything."

Read next: What are actionable insights anyway?

Brian Monschein, vice president of research at Voxpopme, gave a few additional tips on his market research podcast “BRIght Ideas:”

  • use the right colors
  • no more than one idea per slide
  • use videos of consumers to bring the story to life
“And, I beg you, don’t read your headlines word for word,” Brian said.

Data within context

Add context to any data that you share. For example, “Sixty percent of consumers shared a positive sentiment.” OK, but what does that mean? Is that high, low, an increase, decrease? What can we learn from it?

“Data is great and tells you a lot, but without the insights on top of that, you won’t understand how to run your business,” Brad said.

Tell the story at the right speed

Keep in mind that trends evolve, but also, what data is available can change. For example, streaming data wasn’t a thing years ago; neither was video survey software that analyzed responses. The speed has increased in analysis.

That might mean that information is released quicker than would have happened years ago. Insights might be shared as short nuggets as opposed to a full-blown report.

“It depends on what the information is,” Brad said. “Let’s say I’m doing a deep market analysis on a country. That has to be complete before it’s released. Now, if we are doing a study on improving on a show and we are on three times a week. If we do a show on Monday, get feedback Tuesday morning, and the writers are getting together Tuesday afternoon, I don’t have any choice. Or it looks like the insights team isn’t keeping up.”

"We have to work at the speed of the business, keep up with it and hopefully get ahead of it if we can."

Integration across the business

It’s also important to stretch the story across the entire business when it makes sense. For example, different products affect each other.

“At the end, a fan isn’t going to look at WWE as Raw on Monday, SmackDown on Friday, or Wrestlemania on the weekend,” Brad said. “That’s just the brand, and they are experiencing it in different ways.”

Insights gathered from one area of the business can offer knowledge to other areas of the business.

Understand your audience

It’s hard – if not impossible – to share data in a way that drives results if you don’t understand the internal audience.  To start, consider remembering this tip from Brian Monschein when it comes to updating stakeholders: Consider what they already know.

Also, consider how much time they have, and think about what you know about their preferred communication styles. For example, some people prefer quick updates before meetings. Think bullet points, maybe a video of a consumer highlight – like in this consumer study on the iPhone 14. If they are prone to watching videos in a place where they can’t turn on the audio, make sure there are closed captions and other ways to understand the content.

"It may have taken us six hours to find the answer and six seconds to share it. But they don't care about the six hours, just the six seconds."

And they shouldn’t care how long it took us to get an answer. It’s about getting to the point quickly and in a way that is enlightening to them. And don’t tell them how to do their jobs. Be a partner.

Brad remembers a presentation early in his career that discussed a project that didn’t work. As a young researcher, he had the correct answers, but as he called it, “pile-driving them” into the meeting with the stakeholders doesn’t earn any goodwill.

“There are ways to do this that are more impactful,” Brad said. “Understand their business and appreciate that. Know who is in the audience and help them.”

"Everybody is a little different, so you should act accordingly."

Understanding your audience also includes understanding the specific service line, how it makes money, and current problems and opportunities. Without it, it’s impossible to make an impact.

Read next: The importance of genuine relationships to understand customers

Respecting everyone’s time

Not many people want to be talked to for 30 minutes. Be interactive, make it enjoyable, and respect everyone’s time. Some people might go from meeting to meeting all day. Find a way to make it exciting and get them engaged.

“Respect other people’s time, their needs, deadlines, and what they have in front of them and have to do for their bosses,” Brad said.

Some information may not have to be shared in a presentation but could be shared on a public Slack channel—for example, the insights team at WWE shares tidbits about fans that way.

“People were going, ‘I had no idea,'” Brad said. “It’s just finding your path to get the information across.”

Read the room

There are ways to notice whether or not your message is coming across positively. First, read the body language in the room to try to get a sense of what stakeholders are thinking. Then, if they feel disengaged, make it fun and draw their attention back in.

“It’s really about knowing who your audience is,” Brad said. “I’ve spent most of my life trying to get data across to people who probably didn’t want to be in the room with me. They want the information; they didn’t want to go through the process.”

Timing matters

Not all meetings and presentation timeslots are created equal. Consider when the best time would be for your particular audience. Are they early risers? Mid-morning people? Or when are they most likely to give you the most attention? I find right after lunch to be a horrible spot for meetings. People just ate and are trying to settle back in. Some are ready for naps.

So consider all these factors when scheduling a meeting. Sometimes, it’s not possible to get a preferred slot, but at least it’s worth thinking about when planning the time.

No matter the time slot, you’ll want to engage your audience. That can be done through humor, interactivity, and presentation style.

“A humorist approach catches people off guard a little bit,” Brad said. “And not self-deprecating humor like ‘Here I am for a three-hour presentation. Ha ha.’ There’s enough of that.”

"Keep things light because sometimes the information can be pretty heavy."

Next steps

We’ve all been in meetings – even when they were good – and the next steps were missing. OK, good stuff, and now what? Onto the next meeting, I suppose. Consider the next steps you can add at the end of each discussion. That could be as simple as following up with something in a week or two.

Believe in your skills

“In the industry I work in, we work with storytellers,” said Brad. “It can be intimating for an analyst living in spreadsheets and data. They are going into a room of creatives who may not want to hear or aren’t prepared to hear a boring presentation with data.”

Know that getting lost in the data or the storyline can be easy. And remember the end goal to stay on the right path. Brad gave the example of a lengthy, costly, and time-intensive project presented to the executive team in a high-level story.

“It was a very impactful project,” Brad said. “But all that work resulted in three slides submitted to the executive team that resulted in maybe 30 minutes of discussion.”

Ultimately, the research had a business impact because of its guidance and the way it was presented in an easily digestible format. So don’t get hung up on having to share every detail you have, but share the ones that can have the most significant impact.

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How to write research questions

Writing research questions that can get us the necessary answers is vital. And it can turn into a question of company survival.

“The cost of getting it wrong is so destructive,” said Rob Fitzpatrick, author of “The Mom Test.” “My first company, we must have lost three or four years because we asked dumb questions. After a while, that gets expensive.”

Asking the right questions can help us avoid wasting money, time, and effort.

In this article, I discuss:

What makes lousy research questions?

Questions that ask customers to anticipate their future behaviors can be less than helpful, Rob said.

“If you are trying to build something new, those traditional ‘what do you want?’ break down,” he said. “People are really bad at predicting their future needs and behaviors.”

Sometimes, consumers might inadvertently try to support the person asking the questions. For example, let’s say you are thinking about creating a new product and run it by several consumers.

They may say, ‘oh yes, that sounds like a great idea.’ And then you create the thing, and nobody buys it.

“Then they’ll say, ‘oh, we don’t really need it,'” Rob said. “But you told me it would be so innovative? That you loved it. ‘Oh, it is innovative. We just don’t need it.'”

"It's not the customer's job to tell you the truth. It's your job to phrase the questions so they feel comfortable and get around the biases."

In addition to the actual content of questions, context is essential. For example, let’s say we ask consumers if they are interested in this product that will help them be happier and healthier, and they might even get abs. They might even live longer.

“And they’ll go ‘yes, I want that,’ and then you go it’s called the gym,” Rob said. “And they go, ‘no, I don’t want that.'”

The positive, out-of-context reaction happens because they were sold the benefits without all the other things they would have to consider – including finding the time, parking, etc.

“In many cases, you can find parallels for lots of different categories and products,” Rob said.

How to write research questions that get us good answers

Before writing the question, be clear about what you are trying to get out of the question. What answer will be helpful, said Brian Monschein, Voxpopme’s vice president of research. Once you start writing the questions, get to the point.

“Remember that there’s another human being on the other side of that survey, and they will lose interest,” Brian said. “So be thoughtful of how much you want to ask them.”

“A good rule of thumb: Take the survey yourself, as if you were a respondent, and see what you think,” Brian said. “If you struggle in any areas or lose interest, chances are your respondents will, too.”

Write conversational questions, and avoid robotic language or jargon.

“And don’t lead the witness, “Brian said. “Instead of saying ‘did you have a positive visit,’ ask ‘how would you rate your visit?'”

"To keep people interested, I like to write survey questions like I'm having a conversation."

How to ask good questions

A good question is designed to prevent respondents from lying to you – even when the lying often isn’t will intent. Rob calls that the “The Mom Test.”

“If my mom is the most supportive, most biased person, I can structure the questions in a way that even she can’t lie to me, then it’s probably a good question,” Rob said.

An example

Don’t ask specific future product questions:

“Hey, Mom, what do you think of my yoga training at home?” or “What do you think of my awesome iPhone cookbook app?”

Ask about what they are currently doing:

“Hey, Mom, how do you currently do yoga?” or “where do you find and store recipes currently? Do you have any favorite cookbooks?”

You can also see whether there’s an existing problem for them or if they even care about the topic.

Try to uncover something that isn’t widely known already

Before even considering asking consumers the questions you want answers to, consider if the answer is already known. For example, what instrument is most popular for people to learn? Is that something we need to do a survey on, or could we google the answer and easily know that the answer is guitars?

“You should never do first-hand research for something you could have googled,” Rob said. “If you can find an easier tool to get to the learning goal, then take the easier tool.”

Could you explain why you need their feedback?

People want to feel that they, in particular, can help with a problem, which can be addressed in the way we ask questions. So, for example, we might say:

As a loyal customer of xyz brand, how do you currently…

OR

As somebody who regularly buys xyz products, what’s your process to…

“They want to know you value their time and aren’t a time waster,” Rob said. “Saying ‘can I pick your brain,’ feels like a time waster.”

The result of good research questions

Good questions avoid leading consumers to fluff answers, compliments, and hypotheticals.

Rob said that compliments are nice to hear, but were they meant? And how can they be helpful from here going forward?

"Hearing the bad data isn't bad; what's bad is hearing it and believing it."

“It probably means you showed your ego, and that ego is very detectable,” Rob said. “You are not going to be talking about a product, and a person would say, ‘I would never use this in a million years. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.’ And even if they did, they are still bad at predicting their future behavior. They may be wrong. I would have said that about Instagram, and then I still used it every day for ten years.”

Good questions lead to answers that do not start with “I might use that…” or “I probably would…”

“Those are the trickiest because they feel like data,” Rob said. “It’s so tempting. I’ve seen many startup pitches where they say, ‘we’ve surveyed 1,000 customers, and 95 percent said they would definitely use this product.’ And then, low and behold, the startup launches, and they get zero percent usage. That’s because it’s really easy to say ‘yes’ on a survey, but it’s harder to learn a new product and see where it fits into your life.”

And even if you get some of these less-useful types of answers during the research, remember that certain types of responses and data aren’t that helpful.

“It’s hard to keep a conversation on track,” said Rob. “So some of those hypotheticals and compliments will naturally surface. This trick is just to treat it as noise.”

Be specific

When you look at the research results, be specific about what you learned. Don’t just say, “oh, that went well, or they loved it,” said Rob.

“Don’t assign an emotion to it,” he said. “What you want to do is pull out specific things they said. Like they tried it this way or that way, and nothing worked. So if you get those specific data points, you can pull them out, which is the value.”

"I'm looking to get enough data to make the next product decision with reasonable confidence."

At the end of the day, we want consumer insights that help us make decisions that help the business. Understanding the goal of our questions and how to ask them in the best way can get us started down the right path of building something consumers want.

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When are both quantitative and qualitative methods beneficial?

There are times when quantitative research methods get the job done and other times when qualitative is the way to go. But how about combining quantitative and qualitative methods? When does that make sense?

Jason Alleger, consumer insights and strategy at Traeger, said on “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show” that he often uses a qual-quant-qual approach, which works particularly well when researchers try to uncover customers’ unmet needs.

“It helps because you can cast a wide net and then validate with quant,” he said. “Then you go back to consumers and make sure you’re onto something.”

Read next: How to get ready for a product launch with the right consumer insights

Understanding how combining quantitative and qualitative methods can work

Quantitative research provides a high-view, statistical, and data-backed look at an audience or problem. This is great for many situations, such as understanding audience demographics or general sentiment better. However, sometimes you must go beyond the numbers and find more depth. Where quantitative research provides the “what,” qualitative research yields the “why” behind the problem.

Read next: How to determine your company’s why

Quantitative research often uses statistics and provides an excellent jumping-off point for further analysis. But qualitative methods make it possible to get deeper insights and more context than quantitative methods. There are a couple of ways to leverage these methods for new levels of depth.

Use quantitative methods to inform qualitative questions

Quantitative methods can be great for getting a consensus on an issue. This is generally accomplished via closed-ended questions in a survey or poll. Qualitative research allows you to dig deeper and understand the actual quantitative results’ context and story.

For example, you could use an email survey to poll your audience on their first impressions of a proposed product. You could then take those results and develop questions for a qualitative video survey or an open-ended text.

Jason said teams could also use this approach to get initial feedback and ideas, then iterate and show consumers prototypes for additional feedback along the way.

Read next: How to follow the design thinking process to be more relevant to customers

Obtain more context than you can with quantitative methods

Quantitative research is excellent for unearthing all kinds of information, but that info is limited by both the question asked and the quantitative format. Sometimes you need a more open-ended design to get to the heart of the issue.

The questions themselves often limit survey responses. For example, a yes or no question can only give you a yes or no answer.

Qualitative methods, on the other hand, lend themselves to open-ended responses or discussions. This exploratory nature can lead to your audience sharing a great deal, providing you with more context and the discovery of problems you didn’t even know existed.

Read next: Best practices for survey design in research

Answers to text-only open-ended questions can also fall prey to limited responses. This is because they are often short, and the subtleties of tone and body language are absent in responses. You likely get far more context in video surveys, including:

  • facial expressions
  • voice intonations
  • body language

Video feedback can help remedy the text-only issue because people are more willing to share and get their entire story (and then some) out.

Qualitative methods forge stronger relationships

It’s easy for executives and people in non-customer-facing roles to lose sight of the customer or see them more as numbers and less as people. However, qualitative research is typically people-centric, making it easier for executives and others to see your audience as people, not just data sets.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • Qualitative research allows you to better connect with your audience and improve future efforts. This is especially true with video feedback. Video feedback gives your audience a chance to tell their story, including nonverbal cues, allowing you to really get a feel for who they are.
  • Qualitative research’s people-centric qualities make it easier for you to build empathy with your audience as well. More empathy creates a better understanding of your audience and their problems. With this empathy and more profound knowledge, you can develop better solutions.
  • Video feedback is also helpful in getting buy-in from the C-suite and those less involved with customers. Video feedback is inherently humanizing. This can significantly affect the C-suite and others who don’t regularly interact with your audience.

Read next: What are actionable insights anyway?

Finding the right mix of quantitative and qualitative methods

Which combination of research methods you use depends on the specific project, timeline, and more.

“When I think of strategic market research, I find it easiest to break it into a few buckets based on the projects’ intent,” said Brian Monschein, Voxpopme’s vice president of research. “Which one you pick and what exact strategies you use depend on the specific project.”

Brian breaks it down into a few options:

  • Continuous research. These projects you do on an ongoing basis throughout the year and they can include copy testing, promotion testing, claims feedback taste tests, and concept testing.
  • Brand tracking. A way to monitor brand health through brand awareness, visitation/visit frequency, and brand perception.
  • Strategic initiatives. Typically larger, more in-depth projects that are done only a few times a year.

Also, keep in mind how human communication evolves. For example, as Rob Fitzpatrick, author of “The Mom Test,” said, video communication was not really a thing for the masses in 2013. But it’s widely accepted now.

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What is survey fatigue and how can we encourage survey responses?

Survey fatigue is real. And I can see why when I’m diving into surveys. The questions go on and on and on. Is this survey over yet? Nope! We are only at 3 percent complete, according to the little – literally – bar at the bottom. It’s not making things more accessible that the design is horrible, and the survey is hard to read.

While survey fatigue can affect our customers, it also affects us – the companies. After all, we need customer feedback – their opinions and thoughts on product updates and their general customer experience. But when consumers are weary and aren’t taking the time to give feedback, we are a long way from gathering insights.

In this article, I cover:

What is survey fatigue?

“Please fill out this survey to give us your feedback” has been a common strategy. But when that turns into a never-ending game of 20 questions, no wonder consumers get tired of it.

Survey fatigue happens when consumers are burned out taking surveys. They get email after email with requests for surveys; when they take one, it never seems to end.

Some surveys ask to provide more feedback through the written word. The idea is simple: It gives people the option to elaborate on their thoughts. But it also feels a bit like school. I’m a writer and don’t like to write those out. Text-based surveys are often cumbersome, restrictive, and tricky to fill in.

Read next: DIY market research: The how-to-guide

Cumbersome questions can lead to survey fatigue

Unfortunately, the reality is that text-based surveys can be cumbersome, restrictive, and tricky to fill in. That only adds to mounting fatigue.

Open text boxes usually deliver responses of just three or four words and are nearly always less than 50 characters. Or they are skipped entirely. As a result, questions go unanswered, participants become disengaged, and survey fatigue continues to grow. And no responses mean no insights.

How to overcome survey fatigue

There are several strategies to consider, and I discuss them in this section.

Consider the customer experience

Colin Shaw, a global customer experience thought leader, said we must remember to tie surveys and feedback requests into the overall customer experience. It’s no secret that response rates have decreased. He said that might have something to do with companies not understanding the customer.

“Responding to a survey is part of the customer experience,” he said on “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.” “It shows the world and your customers what you think is important.”

“If that survey experience isn’t improving, you are creating more bad experiences and now in the insights portion of the job,” said Jenn Vogel, chief revenue officer at Voxpopme.

Ask different sets of consumers

John Geraci, author of “POLL-arized: Why Americans don’t trust the polls and how to fix them before it’s too late,” said that companies should consider asking different sets of consumers. Of course, survey fatigue sets in when we keep returning to the same group of consumers with all of our survey questions.

“I’ve had people come up to me after book talks and say, ‘I’m sick of how many surveys I get,'” he said. “I can’t go to the doctor, the car dealer, without getting peppered with surveys. People are sick of that.”

The more you know about the consumers, the easier it might be to send surveys to just the right audience.

Brian Monschein, vice president of research at Voxpopme, said on his “BRIght Ideas” market research podcast that asking the right screener questions can also be helpful here.

“Get those specific screener questions done first so you can get those qualified responses and let others go early in the survey before they get so invested in it,” he said.

Read next: Finding research participants without driving yourself crazy

Offer incentives

Brian mentioned that offering incentives could get more people to provide feedback.

“But it has to be tangible like a $5 gift card … and not to be entered into a sweepstake,” Brian said.

Ensure your survey works on all devices

Even though some researchers talk about mobile-specific or mobile qualitative surveys, Brian advises that surveys must work on all devices so respondents can quickly finish their answers for you.

Scrolling sideways or not being able to do a survey at all shouldn’t be an issue still.

Try different survey formats

Trying new or different survey formats might also help overcome survey fatigue. Think of the smiley and frowny faces at airport checkpoints. It’s a super fast way to give instant feedback and fun – especially the first time you see them and when traveling with kids.

Video surveys can also help with survey fatigue. For example, it’s way easier and much quicker to record an answer to an open-ended question than it is to write it out. In addition, video market research gives participants a new and easy way to share information. A typical self-recorded video response is six to eight times longer than a text-based response.

Asynchronous video surveys are a quick and easy way for people to express themselves and for you to get a fundamental understanding of what drives them. It goes beyond the confines of scores and rating scales by revealing the reasons behind the numbers.

Make your customers feel important

As Colin mentioned, it’s about the experience. And perhaps, consumers aren’t participating because they don’t feel like their feedback is valued. Make sure the experience feels like the company cares.

For example, video surveys make customers feel like their opinions are essential and that they are being listened to. That they are more than just data.

Make it easy for consumers to express themselves

I was once asked in a survey why I had canceled the service. There were four common answers and the fifth option was “other.” I clicked “other” and was hoping to explain what the reason was. But, nope, that was the end of the survey. How do they identify new reasons for customer churn if customers can’t share their reasons?

Finding a way to grab consumer emotions like through body language and expressions can also make the research more comprehensive.

Colin mentioned the importance of emotions. Loyalty is often tied to emotions, he said. But, how often do brands look at emotion or ask about emotion?

“And which emotions drive the most value for you?” he said. “And are you measuring those emotions?”

Make it quick

Those TSA buttons work because it’s quick to push them. Walking by and even while pulling my carry-on, I’m on my way in no time and gave my immediate feedback.

The same holds true for surveys elsewhere. From a technical perspective: They should work on all devices. And from a content perspective, questions shouldn’t go on and on and on.

Be on the consumer’s time

We are all busy, and many of us have different schedules. That’s why getting asynchronous feedback can make the entire process easy for the brand and the consumers. Researchers send questions on their time. Consumers answer on their time.

Understand audience preference

Younger audiences are keen to express their opinions across various media and make a quick video reviewing a product or recounting an experience. Some audiences prefer a text, like we discussed in this Gen Z podcast; others might prefer an email. Whatever the preference, keep that in mind and reach out that way.

Consider: Do we even need a survey?

Colin mentioned that not all customer insights need to come from surveys. We can look at the data on customer behavior that we already have. Consider the best way to get the insights you are looking for. Do we already have the data somewhere? Or is there another way to get it?

"There's never just one answer. You need to be doing a series of things. Look at what customers are doing, do some qualitative research, and look at various ways."

Customers talk to businesses all the time already. How can that be brought into the workflow? That can include positive and negative feedback.

“For me, the customer complaint is free market research,” Colin said. “Customers are giving you feedback on your product. But is that roped into the mix?”


Certainly, survey fatigue is happening, and there are varying reasons for it. But there are also ways for us to overcome survey fatigue by catering to customer preferences, using the best possible ways to reach them, and making it a win-win for everyone involved.

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How to conduct remote research with the right technology

We can’t always be in the same room with consumers but still, need their feedback and the ability to ask follow-up questions. That’s where remote research or virtual research comes in handy.

What’s remote research? It’s any research done with the respondent being in a different location from the interviewer. Like a virtual meeting, virtual research is done through a video platform like Zoom.

Interviewing customers – especially at scale – through remote research helps product and marketing teams understand how their product fits into their jobs to be done and daily activities, said Niamh Jones, former director of product at Voxpopme, on an episode of “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.”

In this article, I discuss how to make virtual research a success, what to consider, and what questions to ask.

Making remote research easy

When remote research is easy for employees as well as customers it’s more likely to happen. That includes:

  • Making the time with consumers as meaningful as possible
  • Using the right technology

We have such precious time with customers so we want to get the most out of it.

Being efficient with time

“I look for those organic pauses in the customer journey,” said former Voxpopme Product Marketing Manager Betsy Nelson on an episode of “Reel Talk.” “There’s a lot of times when Customer Success is already talking to customers and I like to tap into those moments.”

That process considers customers’ time and isn’t asked to set aside more time.

“We try to add value,” Betsy said. “So it’s not just them giving and giving and giving, but we are providing something for them as well. We want to make sure it’s a give and take.”

Added Chief Revenue Officer Jenn Vogel: “You really want to make sure that we aren’t asking the same question more than once or try to capture information that they’ve already shared with us. That allows us to be closer to our customers while also

Using the right technology

Different parts of the customer relationship can use different technologies for your market research:

Read next: Even more ways to assess customer health!

The pieces of remote research

The system of design thinking applies here as well. Ask consumers questions throughout the process – and doing it remotely can help you talk to them at scale.

“We get feedback through the different iterations,” said Niamh. “And with some things we do a beta testing phase as well. Then post-launch of new features as well.”

Then know when you dive into specific problems like why is something specific not working. And when to ask broader questions about overarching business problems.

Do research from a place of data and not just pop in and say 'hi.'

The importance of historical data

All remote research at Voxpopme is documented and referred back to when the team wants to connect with specific customers who use the product.

“You are a little bit more informed that way,” said Betsy. “It’s not just ‘hi, how is it going?’ but rather ‘I’ve seen you use this section of the product, tell me about that experience.”

That also helps move a conversation forward quickly, added Niamh.

“We aren’t spending the first 10-15 minutes and you can tell us things we may or may not already know,” Niamh said. “That way we can go in with more informed questions. We have such precious time with customers so want to get the most out of it.”

Read next: How to get centralized data in your company

At the end of the day, the conversation should be mutually beneficial. For the customers, it can be highly beneficial when products are improved based on their feedback.

How to structure a remote research conversation with customers

Conversations do include a time to discuss the customer’s current pain points and what they are trying to accomplish.

“Just to get us up to speed,” said Niamh. “We have a very structured document but also give them that space to see what they want to talk about.”

The team wants customers to be honest and give their full opinions.

“Set the scene that our feelings won’t be hurt,” Niamh said. “Be as brutally honest as you want because that’s going to help us.”

Have prepared questions, see where the conversation goes, and ask good follow-up questions.

“You never know what you are going to learn jumping on these calls,” Niamh sad

Also have examples ready. Sometimes, customers don’t have an answer to a open-ended question so you might follow up with something more specific:

  • Do you need help with training the team on xyz?
  • Would something like xyz help solve that?
  • Do you want to see some examples of xyz?

The team adds value for the customer, even when they are asking for things.

Good questions

Have good questions ready. Be clear about the end goal and what the questions are trying to accomplish, said Matthew Handegaard, data scientist at Voxpopme, on an episode of “Reel Talk.”

When you bring order to your questions they will give you a more orderly response.

“Important to any research plan is to start the maze from the end,” he said. “First, you need to establish what you are trying to accomplish, and then you work backward to formulate the questions you will ask.”

Also, remember that it’s good  to uncover more questions to the initial questions once the conversation has started. Good follow-up questions can also make a difference in gathering insights.

Read next: Do this to be innovative in business

The trick is to listen actively and spot the opportunities to follow up. For example, Rob Fitzpatrick, author of “The Mom Test,” recalls an interview where the researcher kept ticking off the questions until the respondent said:

“That’s the worst part of my day.”

But the interviewer didn’t ask more questions about what made it so bad and kept going down the list of prepared questions. That was a lost opportunity for consumer insights right there.

Feedback loop

Whenever possible, try to circle back with customers that offered feedback that led to product updates.

“I know a lot of companies are struggling with that,” said Jenn.

“Sometimes we even get to do that in person, but a lot of times we use the systems we already have in place to automate the experience,” added Betsy. “So we have a list of customers that mentioned a certain feature or area of the product. We know they’ve contributed and sent out an automated message from the product team.”

Read next: Use this to know which customers are talking about what topics

That email can be as simple as:

Thank you for your feedback. It was super helpful. We made these changes: <list of highlights>. <Link to more.> 

The team uses the Voxpopme search functionality to find trends and also uses ProdPad where one person on the call takes notes while the other interviews.

Setup for remote research with Zoom

It’s important to make use of the technology you already use and like. For many of us, that includes using Zoom for the calls and then importing those calls into your Voxpopme account for analysis and more.

Importing Zoom videos downloaded to your computer

There are two ways Zoom users save their meeting videos. One is to their computer. The other is to the Zoom cloud. To import the video saved to your computer, simply upload it to your Voxpopme account from your computer.

Importing Zoom videos from the Zoom cloud

Record your Zoom interviews to the Zoom cloud and then import them to the Voxpopme platform using the Zoom-Voxpopme integration.

Once the connection is authorized, you can import the videos directly in your dashboard.

voxpopme zoom integration

Download link: Zoom – Voxpopme integration in the Zoom Marketplace

The importance of the right tech

Talking with customers through Zoom can make everyone’s life easier. They are already used to using it. So are the insights professionals.

From there, remote research should be easy. That includes the initial interview to analysis and sharing of results. Betsy recounted the story of a customer who used to spent a lot of time editing interviews into clips that could be shared internally.

“He said ‘with Voxpopme I literally just highlight the transcript and add it to a clip. It’s so much easier.'” Betsy recounted the customer’s story.


“We use Zoom for our calls, but then also use video surveys,” said Niamh. “It all goes into the same account in the system so we can layer learnings.”

Sometimes it might be necessary to add new technology to your market research tech stack, but if you are already using Zoom for customer interviews, it’s an easy integration into Voxpopme.

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How to ask inclusive demographic questions in your market research

Part of good survey design includes having inclusive demographic questions. But how much time and effort do market researchers put into their demographic questions? And how can we make them better?

I’ll dive into the topic in this article and cover:

What are inclusive demographic questions?

Inclusive demographic questions reflect the current ways people refer to themselves and are used in quant and qual studies. What those are specifically depends on the audience you are trying to reach and current practices on how people identify.

“There’s a base recommendation, but then you also have to customize that by listening to who your base is,” said Shannon Danzy, director of research and strategy at RALLY – a communications firm.

This can include:

  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Disability

Read next: How to make research participation easier for people with disabilities

Why are inclusive demographic questions so important to focus on?

Inclusive demographic questions show that a brand cares about the people its consumers are, which can drive brand engagement and loyalty, which in turn can lead to better research.

Let people know we care about them and give them space to identify and we are not going to force you into a specific box.

Tchicaya Robertson, a 25-year research veteran and senior principal at Accenture for workforce transformation and diversity, equity, and inclusion research, said demographic questions are essential for several reasons. One is that it can help businesses be more successful.

“We don’t just want to do the right thing,” she said. “We want to do the right thing for business.”

The inclusiveness of the research

Research is supposed to get insights from our communities and elevate their voices.

“It also means to allow people from different backgrounds to interject and contextualize the insights,” she said.

Better demographic questions help here. She said that the questions are so important because there are practical decisions you have to make. But unfortunately, some demographic questions aren’t created to the fullest because of budget restraints.

“But the more we do that, the less justice we do in our insights,” Tchicaya said. “You cannot create a sustainable program if the demographic questions don’t reflect an identity we are trying to influence.”

"We have to decide how do we ask the questions that will bucket people into meaningful groups and segments."

“Having a place to start until you get it right is the right way to go,” she said.

How to know what demographic questions to ask

Tchicaya added that that process isn’t one-size-fits-all.

“Our effort is about where do we start and how do we give guidance until we get the data where we can say ‘for this use case, we need to ask these questions,'” she said. “And every demographic question is not required for every survey. It’s about your hypothesis, what you need to test, and what’s the goal. What are the right demographic questions to get the right sample for that purpose?”

Download the Insights Association’s position paper on demographic questions here. 

The evolution of people’s identities

Shannon said demographic questions are top of mind because there’s been an evolution of how people identify.

Those evolutions include:

  • terminology
  • how people want to be identified
  • what people want to be called

“You cannot not see that happening,” Shannon said. “Take what Tchicaya has been saying as the base and then pile on top of what has been happening.”

These changes add to the importance of why researchers need to look at their demographic questions, she said.

"Starting with demographic questions is very foundational. You have to get this right first."

That being said, a gen pop sample is not always the best solution.

“Gen pop is one way to look at it, but better framing is to ask ‘what is the goal of the research?'” Tchicaya said. “If you are creating a product for Black people, do you need a gen pop sample? You don’t.”

I would say gen pop should die and be replaced by something more respectful of humans and all the different lenses we bring to the table.

“We have to stop because it’s just not relevant for all the use cases,” she said.

How to come up with inclusive demographic questions?

“We are trying to figure out how to do research more inclusively,” said Tchicaya. “From the language to the questions to the hypothesis – the whole research cycle.”

Of course, it does start with awareness. Researchers need to be aware of the latest intricacies.

“I could be 14 different things – from nationality to race to ethnicity,” Tchicaya said. “That’s why we are trying to do it right. So what are all the options?”

Then we need to evaluate our current demographic questions. That likely will include talking to consumers.

“We might be in a place where we make people uncomfortable because we are making people check a box that is there but doesn’t reflect who I am as a person,” she said. “Because the option isn’t there.”

It’s really about giving respondents the option to express themselves.

“How are we doing the right thing by the people that we are asking?” Tchicaya said.

She added that the industry likely can’t be forced to change, but understanding how people identify and keeping that in mind when sorting groups of respondents is the right thing to do.

Base your demographic questions on research, which the Insights Association tried to do with its demographic questions paper.

"And it's not just because we've been doing it for a long time. We could have been doing it for a long time incorrectly."

But remember that the paper is just a start, added Shannon.

The paper is not saying that this is the way,” she said. “The way questions are being asked is slowly evolving, too. There’s still a lot of research that’s being done. The paper is a summary of what are the best practices right now.”

Read next: How to integrate multicultural research into your insights strategy

Why the “other” checkbox isn’t the solution

Many surveys have tried to get around the issue by adding an “other” box, but really how many groups should go into “other?”

“I think we’ve been aware of doing it the wrong way for a long time and put in an option for ‘other,'” said Jenn Vogel, host of “Reel Talk” and vice president of marketing at Voxpopme. “Just by its own nature that says ‘I’m other than…'”

"Nobody wants to be called 'other.' It neutralizes you. It says that you are not as valuable as other people."

It ignores people for what they are, and how does “other” help us understand those respondents anyway? It doesn’t.

“In terms of recommendations, the ‘other’ shouldn’t be there, and you should allow that person to define themselves,” Shannon said.

For example, add a phrase like “I identify as…” and then allow people to identify themselves. Then, use the right technology to group open ends, Shannon said. Plus, seeing the open-end answers can help you make the next round of demographic questions more inclusive.

Read next: How to pick the right market research technology

“They are going to be more accurate for you to get the people you want in your study,” Shannon said. “And it makes the people in your study realize that they are seen, and they’ll want to participate more in your study. They’ll say this company gets me.

"Nobody identifies as one thing. We are multiple things. We move through different identities."

“We need to treat people as humans whose opinions we really want to understand,” Tchicaya added.

The nuances of inclusive demographic questions

First, we need to understand the different demographic question options.

For example, Tchicaya said there are differences between:

  • Gender – often established ideas of male, female and now some surveys add a third or more options
  • Gender identity – somebody’s internal sense of what they are

“They sound very nuanced but are very different things,” Tchicaya said.

Your demographic questions, in this case, could be:

  • What sex were you assigned at birth? (answers gender question)
  • Then allow people to describe themselves – male, female, transgender, or none of these, and what’s your current gender identity?

Each also includes an option of:

  • I prefer not to answer

“That’s to give a human the opportunity not to feel every question they respond to is done in light of how they answered the question,” Tchicaya said.

A broader look at race and ethnicity

Remember that the limited definitions of race and ethnicity we’ve used in the past are no longer enough. Let’s take the example of being Hispanic. Historically, this survey question would be, “are you Hispanic or not Hispanic?”  We need more options in our surveys to be more inclusive. A Hispanic person could be, for example:

  • from Spain
  • a descendent from somebody that lived in Spain
  • from Mexico
  • a descendent from somebody that lived in South America

All these groups have had different experiences and aren’t the same group of respondents, yet we’ve bucketed them together historically.

“Being able to reflect that is important,” said Shannon. “We want to be able to reflect the nuances. Being more detailed on the front end will help you on the back end.”

Also, Shannon added, remember that just because somebody appears to be from one group or another doesn’t mean they want to be called that.

For example, Black and African-American aren’t the same things; it’s often listed as Black/African-American.

“That implies it’s the same thing, which it’s not,” Shannon said. “African-Americans are people who were born in the U.S. and chose to be identified as African-American. So like there’s a movement with pronouns, there’s a movement in the Black and African-American community as to what we should be called.”


The wording matters

The wording, in general, matters for demographic questions. For example, Brian Monschein, Voxpopme’s vice president of research, gave the example of income on “BRIght Ideas.”

“Make sure your questions are simple but direct,” he said. “When you ask ‘what is your income?’ is that the household income, before taxes or after, and is it by month or year.”

Asking, “What is your total household income before taxes” ensures clarity.


When should demographic questions be asked?

They are often asked at the beginning – where they can also be used as screeners when necessary.

“It can be a turn-off to have them at the beginning,” said Shannon. “In other cases or many cases, really it’s better to have them at the end. Get the information you want and then ask these questions at the end.”

Read next: Why customer empathy should be relatively easy for companies

Consider the overall makeup of the sample

Elena Lyrintzis, marketing and culture insights lead, Devices and Services at Google, discussed on “Reel Talk” the importance of getting the proper collection of people into the final sample for a survey.

“It’s something to be hyperfocused on when you are creating that sample structure, that quota structure,” she said.

And consider how to reach people. For example, some people might not have the time to take a survey on their computers. Others might not have time for a remote interview.

Read next: How to use asynchronous video to get customer feedback

Different demographic questions by region

Not every country is a melting pot like the United States. Because of the diverse population in the United States, the demographic questions discussion is essential. But that might not be the case in other countries. For example, in countries that are predominantly one race, asking about race in your demographic question might not make sense. It might even be distracting. “Why are they even asking me this?”

“If you are in a predominantly black country, asking if you identify as black is like ‘what do you mean – what am I?'” said Tchicaya. “You have global considerations, which includes in which country can you even ask the race question.”

Being African-American is not a thing outside of America.

Analyzing inclusive demographic questions

Having updated questions is a start that needs to continue into the analysis. If you just put them all in the traditional buckets of demographic data, that’s not using inclusive demographic questions to the fullest. But that can happen because we are under time pressure, and Ray Poynter previously predicted that expectations for speed would continue to increase in market research.

“So we take the care to ask all the right questions, and then on the back end, we aggregate them all like we haven’t taken the care,” said Tchicaya.

This is so important because putting people in the wrong buckets can negatively impact the insights we get. Jenn mentioned the example of Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne, who would be placed in the same bucket based on demographics alone. Still, it’s important to consider they probably care about different things.

“They are very different people,” Jenn said. “But if you segment them in a survey response, they could be in the same bucket.”

"There's more below the water line that we need to understand to really segment properly and understand what they care about."

How often should demographic questions be evaluated?

“The word on the street is that research is old after six months,” said Tchicaya. “There’s never a destination. There is always learning; always something to consider.”

We might miss a group to include in our demographic questions. But, on the other hand, something new might be learned. So it’s a never-ending experience and ongoing learning and evaluation project.

“We have to be comfortable challenging what we see as the authority on these questions,” she said.

Shannon added that people should keep up with trends. Read reports and blogs and keep up on what’s going on. Keep up on what’s changing for younger consumers, including Gen. Z.

Our screen and survey instruments can't be static, because this younger generation isn't static.

Asking inclusive demographic questions can improve our research, which can help us provide better insights into our business. That can impact business and even help us get and keep support for more research.

Like this article? Read more like it here. 

How Natural Language Processing helps us understand consumers better

Natural Language Processing is one technology solution that can help you understand what your customers say and do that at scale. But how does it work, what do you need to be aware of, and what roles do humans play in a Natural Language Processing analysis?

This article covers:

What is Natural Language Processing?

In short: NLP is an acronym commonly used for Natural Language Processing.

Natural Language Processing is an area of artificial intelligence and is the process of enabling machines to learn and understand human language. NLP is an important piece of text analytics strategies that help researchers understand the context behind what consumers are saying.

“Fundamentally, it’s about a machine trying to understand what us humans are trying to say,” said Andy Barraclough, CTO and founder at Voxpopme, on an episode of “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.”

Jenn Vogel, CRO at Voxpopme and host of “Reel Talk,” added that there’s also a line where the machines’ abilities end and human intervention becomes necessary.

The nuances of human languages can be mindboggling – even to people.

Take the response of:

“It hasn’t rained in weeks.”

Andy said that could be taken as:

  • it’s been a great summer
  • negatively if said by farmers, because fields need water

"Depending on the context around the question the words within it can massively change the sentiment."

Using NLP, machines are learning to understand and then analyze those subleties.

Where should we use NLP?

It’s essential to think about what the goal is, Andy said. At times, NLP might replace something. Or it might enhance a process.

Like anything, Natural Language Processing has areas where its strongest and some areas where it can still improve.

“It’s come leaps and bounds like a lot of technology has,” Andy said. “But our language as humans is constantly evolving, the way we speak to each other, the language that we use, the words that we use. The slang, accents, and everything around that is constantly evolving.”

In other words, it’s hard for machines and humans to keep up with all those changes. And that shortcoming is something we want to keep in mind and understand.

“There are different scales that we can rely on,” Andy said. “It depends on what you want to get out of it.”

Many of us already interact with NLP in our day-to-day anyway. Think of Siri and Alexa, for example. And sometimes they understand what we are saying or are trying to say correctly. Other times, they don’t.

Read next: Market research technology: What’s the role of market research automation?

Understanding some of the advantages and disadvantages of when NLP works well and where it could still improve are good to consider. And also, remember that improvements happen – including in machine translation, which I will discuss shortly. Others areas where NLP is already used includes chatbots and feedback sentiment analysis.

Chatbots

NLP tries to understand what people say when talking to the bot. The responses are then based on the machine’s understanding of the conversation. NLP in some chatbots certainly has come a long way. I remember cases when a chatbot would respond to me: “I don’t understand. Can you please rephrase/use different words?”

The trick is that the machines adjust to how people talk, not the people having to adjust their language so the machines can understand them.

Sentiment analysis

I use NLP weekly during ongoing consumer studies of trending topics – for example, when we asked about favorite mustard brands.

The system analyzes what people say and assigns it to positive, negative, or neutral statements to offer the researcher an overview of the makeup of statements.

NLP in sentiment analysis

Machine translation

Machine translation is another example of NLP and is more helpful than not being able to communicate with people who speak a different language. It’s also still evolving, Andy said. Take the example of translating from one language into another and then back. The final translation wasn’t always great in the past. That’s because of the nuances of language and how things get translated and interpreted.

But, there seem to be improvements. By way of example, I translated this English paragraph into Hindi:

I want to try Natural Language Processing more and more, but I don’t have the right budget right now. Also, my team is always understaffed. Need ideas!

In Hindi, it was listed as:

मैं नेचुरल लैंग्वेज प्रोसेसिंग को अधिक से अधिक आजमाना चाहता हूं, लेकिन मेरे पास अभी सही बजट नहीं है। साथ ही, मेरी टीम में हमेशा स्टाफ की कमी रहती है। विचारों की आवश्यकता है!

Then translating that back into English got me this:

I want to try Natural Language Processing as much as possible, but I don’t have the right budget right now. Also, my team is always short of staff. Ideas needed! (Emphasis added to highlight changes)

So there were some changes, but the meaning of the paragraph essentially stayed the same, accurate and understandable.

"The understanding of what is being said has increased massively."

Using NLP efficiently

For NLP to be most effective for you, the data – including the context of the data need to be provided. How else could we analyze the “it didn’t rain for weeks” comment if we don’t understand who we are talking to and what the context of that conversation is?

That’s not always easy to do, said Andy.

“That’s why we need to understand what we are trying to get out of these systems and roles we have to play as humans,” Andy said.

For example, an NLP analysis can get you an overview of trends. In the case of the sentiment analysis, the breakdown of positive, negative, and neutral comments gives me an excellent synopsis of where the comments are trending.

Some people might become skeptical when something wasn’t categorized as they thought it would be.  On the flip side, they might also be pleasantly surprised by advances in NLP. I was surprised by how close the machine translation ended up being – which was way better than the last time I tried that same scenario, which was probably years ago.

Certainly, we might be able to see things that NLP didn’t see when we manually go through responses. But, on the flip side, NLP can also catch things we may have missed in our manual review. And, NLP will get us some trend ideas quicker than any manual review would.

Read next: Trendspotting: Seeing and understanding trends with consumer insights

Consider the amount of data that you have available. Andy explained that NLP works well with larger data sets while training it on smaller sets can be hard.

"Things that analyze the data will be biased of the data that we've given it."

How to get buy-in for Natural Language Processing

Understanding and communicating NLP’s strengths and how they fit into your goals is certainly one way. Trust in the data is always an important bridge to cross as well.

Quick wins

Start using NLP in certain projects and then share the useful results with stakeholders and executives. That can be a quick win – sharing something that worked and showing its impact on the overall actionable insights being presented.

It’s unlikely that human involvement can be completely stripped out of the process involving sophisticated data.

“Seeing the data is also important,” Andy said. “You can spot-check the data, which can be quite useful.”

That can also build trust with the team when spot checks and the NLP output mesh.

Saving time

Also, be clear where NLP can help when it comes to:

  • saving time on certain tasks, which can then be used elsewhere
  • creating analysis that wasn’t as easily possible previously

Showing these results can help with buy-in and acceptance of new technologies in a business.

"Natural Language Processing can help us get to those insights that maybe we wouldn't have gotten before."

Different perspectives

NLP can also add perspectives on a situation that may have been absent. Think about the projects where three different people have three different views on what insights are actually being discovered. NLP can offer a data-backed approach here.

“Perhaps it will open up different routes of innovation, customer discovery, and understanding,” Andy said. “It’s about how do we leverage it. Maybe it’s another perspective.”

The speed

Many of us are under the pressure of constant and fast results, and NLP can speed up the process of getting insights. That doesn’t mean NLP should be used for every project. It also doesn’t mean every project needs to be done quickly. But the option of NLP and agile qual can generally help us speed up projects.

“From a product perspective, by iterating through an idea, you are uncovering different sets of information that provide you the ability to make another decision,” Andy added. “I think when we plan out too far into the future, we blinker ourselves from the ability to see more from the information we gather in a different use case. This can help you uncover something new.”

Read next: How to follow the design thinking process to be more relevant to customers

Sometimes, we try to get to that perfect answer in research, Andy said, but getting insights along the way can be so helpful in making better decisions.

"NLP works better when you have that broader dataset sitting behind it."

Data integrity

Many companies have plenty of data, but as somebody once said: “Garbage in, garbage out.” Bad data won’t help us understand our customers better. But cleaning up our data, understanding where it’s coming from and what it includes can help. The more we know about the data we have and the more confident we are about its accuracy, the more useful NLP will be.

“We must be conscious of where we are getting our data,” Andy said. “The data can potentially have a negative impact on what gets pulled out.”

But there’s plenty of data that companies already have that has the potential to be used to train the AI. For example, you could use:

  • existing customer interview video or audio
  • open-end responses collected over recent months or when still timely even years

 


In summary, NLP can help us scale our consumer conversations. That can happen through new asynchronous video feedback, remote interviews, and even existing content that can be analyzed anew using Natural Language Processing.

Like any new technology or method, it has disadvantages and advantages. Understanding those and how they can bring new perspectives to the customer can help us be even more successful.

Like this article? Read more like it here. 

 

How to run efficient online focus groups

It’s just efficient on all fronts to conduct online focus groups. And it’s yet faster to do them asynchronously, meaning that:

  • you ask questions on your time.
  • consumers answer on their time.
  • you’ll get the analysis – including sentiment, key topics, and more- in the Voxpopme video survey platform.

"Technology is absolutely an enabler. The fact that you can speak with more people than you physically can in person - you just couldn't do that before."

Of course, there’s a time and place for in-person focus groups. But the advantages of online focus groups include:

  • You can reach a wider group of consumers, regardless of location or availability.
  • Responses are genuinely personal. You can see their facial expressions as they share their authentic feedback.
  • The analysis is easy and already in a digital format, which makes all aspects of research and sharing quick.

The emergence of videos for online focus groups

Online focus groups are easier than ever because of how mobile and video technology have been changing the way people interact and the way we research.

Read next: What market researchers need to know about Gen Z!

More people are working with video than ever before. Even before COVID-19, a total of 93 percent of companies were using video for multiple use cases. A year into the pandemic, video communication has become even more prevalent.

Advancements in technology mean no longer need for research to take weeks or months to generate insightful results. Instead, today’s technology advancements mean researchers can uncover complex thoughts and deliver compelling insights faster than ever.

Read next: Getting leadership support — and keeping it — for internal market research

Online focus groups allow you to uncover customer stories and get closer to people’s thoughts. From there, you can make informed customer-centric decisions.

Not only that, but the video for the consumer is fun, quick, and easy to use. It allows users to show emotion and express how they feel.

"If I need feedback from customers, I can't wait 4-6 weeks for a survey or a focus group to get done."

Video research can also fit in around respondents’ busy lives, so there’s less need for time-consuming traditional research methods. Instead, customers can now share their thoughts and feelings easily at a time that suits them, giving them the data they need to deliver in-depth insights across your entire organization.

Take this study on consumer preference when it comes to ordering fast food. The entire project was completed in under seven hours.

Capture online focus groups in a convenient way

Today’s technology and capture solutions of our online focus group software allow you to create the group on your time. From there, consumers can answer on their own time. Of course, that could mean they’ll take their time, but they don’t.

Take this online focus group survey about the new iPhone 14. It took just a few hours to get all the responses I needed. The next day we shared the results.

Analyze data instantly

There’s no need to wait weeks or even days for videos from online focus groups to be analyzed. Today’s technology means that responses are transcribed within minutes of being recorded, and video can be delivered and analyzed shortly after that.

Additionally, your videos can be filtered and quickly searched with interactive charts and word clouds, making it easier to analyze and explore your online focus group.

Using Zoom for the in-depth remote interviews, you can now use the Voxpopme platform to analyze the feedback automatically.

Download link: Zoom – Voxpopme integration in the Zoom Marketplace

Share powerful customer stories.

No need to worry about lengthy editing processes because creating your showreels and sharing your results is easy.

Today’s technology makes it easier to unlock and share powerful insights.

Like this article? Read more like it here. 

What are video surveys and how to use them

Video surveys – also called video questionnaires at times – are an easy way to communicate with customers at scale. After all, people share their likes, dislikes, and opinions daily.  So, it’s a natural extension to ask them how and why questions to get to the bottom of their thinking and decision-making.

This article discusses:

What are video surveys in market research?

Video surveys allow you to gather actionable insights from your customers, consumers, users – anyone! Brands can ask questions directly to the people they care about most, and respondents leave their thoughts and feedback via video.

Video surveys are easy for brands as they hear directly from people. You can even combine quantitative questions with qualitative ones – as we do in our weekly consumer studies. From there, the software analyzes:

You can also create highlight reels to share a sampling of responses.

Having your video surveys in one place can also centralize your data.

Consumers do video surveys asynchronously, meaning they answer your brand’s questions on their own time, and the brand can see the results as they come in.

There’s no need to have a moderator on the other side, which helps get consistent questions to the respondents and eliminates biases.

The video makes it easier for respondents to express themselves. It’s also much more personal, adding more of a human aspect to communication. They can portray emotion through body language and facial expressions. It’s an experience that’s simple and easy to use. It delivers spontaneous and honest answers.

Why video questionnaires scale customer feedback

It’s easy to get answers to open-ended questions through video surveys. Most of us now have smartphones in our pockets or our hands nonstop. So why not use video surveys to get feedback from your customers in a way that is easy for them and meaningful to you?

“Instead of answering checkbox questions, respondents can answer on their phone or desktop and really tell their stories,” said Jenn Vogel, chief revenue officer at Voxpopme. “They can add additional context to their stories.”

Jenn discussed video surveys on The CX Leader Podcast.

The power of showing versus telling

Video surveys can also uncover product preferences that a text-based survey may not do as well. Take this example from Annie Pettit, chief research officer at E2E Research. In a nutshell, why ask consumers to recall what household products they bought, she said? Just ask them to show you on camera.

The speed of video questionnaires

Video survey projects can be completed in hours. For example, we run a weekly consumer study and launch the questions late on Fridays. By Saturday morning, 100 answers are usually done, ready for us to review on Monday when we return to work.

Examples of these quick-turn studies include:

Read next: DIY market research: The how-to-guide

How to integrate video surveys

Video surveys can be used through a platform like Voxpopme. They can also be added by inserting a code block to whatever platform you use for surveys.

For quantitative researchers, they can be integrated directly into survey platforms such as:

  • SurveyGizmo
  • Qualtrics
  • Decipher

Video surveys can also be added to communities like FuelCycle.

So whether you want to utilize video in a new or existing study or collect your videos alongside or after a survey, in just a few clicks, it’s possible. That means you can capture, analyze and share compelling customer stories across various quant and qual studies to boost your results’ impact without changing your existing program.

“I’m an evangelist for video,” said Kristin Luck, a serial marketing measurement entrepreneur. “The closer we can get to customers and potential buyers, the better. And I think there’s no more powerful way than hearing it from them in their own words. I think it just resonates more deeply.”

Video surveys make it easy for brands to reach consumers anywhere and for consumers to respond to questions on their own time.
"In speaking they can show us their face and we are able to connect what they saying with how they are saying it."

Hearing directly from consumers

Priscilla McKinney of Little Bird Marketing said video surveys connect consumers intimately to companies.

“Oh, I get to tell the company what I feel and think?” she said. “That specialness that they are being valued is really at the core of the kind of relationships we want.”

Jenn said she’s even seen feedback videos from consumers where they open with:

“I’ve been waiting to talk to you for thirty years.”

Added Jenn: “The consumer feels like she’s talking directly to a brand that she feels really close to anyways, and that was the opportunity to talk directly to that brand.”

Augmented reality and video surveys

Video surveys also can be used in conjunction with augmented reality, something The Olinger Group has done with the Voxpopme platform. Jude Olinger shared on “Reel Talk” how his team allowed consumers to view a new type of leaf blower with AR and then share their feedback via video surveys.

Understanding the market in real-time

Video surveys can also be used to understand customer feelings about a current campaign. For example, for a Super Bowl, we set out to find out which brands won and lost in the battle of the commercials. We asked 150 North American consumers which ad was the most memorable.

They shared their most memorable Super Bowl ad during each quarter of the game in real-time self-recorded responses to a single open-ended video question. The study tested the unaided recall of the commercials, and scores were calculated based on the number of mentions for each ad across all video responses in less than 4 hours, thanks to automated video analytics.

Examples of brands that use video surveys

Video surveys can be used in all kinds of industries and verticals, Jenn said. That includes large brands to smaller businesses.

“The real power comes in where it works alongside traditional methods,” Jenn said. “Adding a video layer to the quantitative data can help you understand your customers better.”

For example, consider this qual-quant-qual approach.

Here are some examples of how companies use video surveys to understand their customers better.

PepsiCo

“Our partnership with Voxpopme was instrumental in keeping our ears to the ground to see what our consumers were dealing with and how they were navigating this new world,” said Megan Kehr, analytics insights associate manager at PepsiCo.

In PepsiCo’s “Humanize” initiative, the company tried getting marketers closer to customers and understanding them better. That was accomplished by using video surveys to allow consumers to answer questions on their own time, no matter where they were.

Deeper customer understanding

Understanding the customer goes beyond “what flavor they pick up at the store and why,” Megan said on an episode of Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show. “But there’s also so much more behind the people who are drinking our products and what’s going on in their lives. And then figure out how our brands can help them ease the tensions they are dealing with. How we can fit better into their lives and what they are facing on a day-to-day basis.”

With Voxpopme’s video surveys, “they could do it on their mobile phones, pick it up whenever they feel like it. So they are not put on the spot or speaking to somebody they don’t know.”

Megan said she got “more authentic responses because we met them where they were.”

Subway

Subway used video surveys to get quick feedback from a Super Bowl campaign.

“Literally, we had like a 12-hour turnaround,” said Wendy Semrau of Subway. “It was just amazing how many responses we were able to generate in that short amount of time. We went through the results right away on Friday and shared them right away with the team. There’s no other tool that we can do that with. A lifesaver for us.”

Global Old Spice campaign in the London Underground

Global used video surveys to understand brand recall and sentiment for Old Spice.

A new Old Spice campaign in the London Underground put the Old Spice scent into the posters in the subway system, said Emma Brett of Global.

“That was something new. Something we didn’t know would work,” she said. “We didn’t know if the posters would smell, what people would think. We used Voxpopme to get a few opinions about the posters. If the scent was strong enough, etc. It was really good feedback for the client. It proved that the campaign was a success.”

Faurecia

Maher Beltaifa shared how Faurecia wanted to find out how people want to communicate in the future in their cars. Do they want to move beyond touching screens and buttons? What does that look like?

“We were looking at the future of communications,” said Maher, who is now an insights manager at Coca-Cola. “Maybe not tomorrow, but maybe the day after tomorrow.”

They wanted to discover the future of voice, and “maybe there will be something different even,” Maher said. That could be gestures to communicate with the devices in our cars.

Read next: More about the project

He discusses how the team decided to use qual and video surveys in this clip.

Reckitt

“We’ve had so much success inside the walls of RB,” said Elisabeth Trawinski, director of insights and analytics at Reckitt. “It’s about bringing that external lens inside the company.”

Reckitt used video surveys to understand how customer behaviors and rituals change.

DISH Network

Ashley Shelley, previously senior manager, consumer insights at DISH Network, said on an episode of “Reel Talk” that DISH uses video surveys in various ways – from a few questions to ad testing to asking customers about new concepts.

Creating highlight reels from the video responses is “pure gold and so much better than pasting open ends into a deck,” she said.

Read next: Getting leadership support — and keeping it — for market research

DISH moved to video surveys at first with a project where they needed respondents to pronounce the topic. Answers would be most beneficial when researchers could hear and see what the respondents give them.

Video surveys make research more human.

“They had to be answered with somebody actually giving us the response,” Ashley said. “We couldn’t do it in a quant survey.”

Video surveys also help DISH reach harder-to-reach consumers, such as:

  • in rural areas
  • the elderly
  • Spanish speakers

“Voxpopme has a great panel of older consumers as well,” Ashley said. “A lot of times, somebody will come to me with a research question, and I can say, ‘I can get you some video feedback on that, and it’s your target consumer.'”

And the process is quick. You can decide on a question in the morning, launch it that day, and get answers by the following day.

“I thought I would have to sacrifice the integrity or the depth of the research,” Ashley said about the perception when something can be done quickly. “How could it be so quick? For me, Voxpopme changed my mind about that. I feel like with video surveys; we aren’t sacrificing anything.”

The speed helps with influencing decisions, Ashley said.

Which roles can use video surveys?

Video questionnaires can be used by several teams to understand their customers. Let’s look at some examples.

Product teams

Teams can use video questionnaires, especially as part of the design-thinking process. Even if a product is revamped post-launch and turned into something customers would love, a bad launch can tarnish a product’s reputation. Video feedback can help product managers tackle any issues before the official launch.

Even after a product’s release, they can use video feedback to get more accurate information. With positive reviews influencing someone’s decision to purchase by as much as 91%, ensuring a product is what the people want is key. Video feedback will allow a product team to constantly stay on top of the customer experience.

Marketers

Research and analytics play a significant role in effective marketing. Direct video feedback from your audience can differentiate marketing success and failure.

Use video feedback before running a campaign to understand how it might perform at scale. The feedback will allow you to get nuanced feedback on why an audience segment likes or dislikes a particular idea.

Read next: How to run advertising testing for better campaigns

Video feedback can also be useful after the fact, giving marketers a chance to understand what people like and don’t like about their brand’s current messaging.

Marketers can send video feedback requests to people on their company email list, prompt website visitors with a pop-up, or request feedback within an app. This allows audiences to discuss what they like and don’t like about current ads, marketing efforts, or messaging.

Read next: Research recruitment strategies: Finding research participants without driving yourself crazy

Video surveys are great for open-ended questions

Open-ended questions have been a major part of market research and, more specifically, surveys for many years. They are essential to unearthing truths that closed-ended questions could otherwise miss.

Video questionnaire open-ended questions are just like text-based open-ends. But instead of writing down responses, respondents record a video. As a result, videos are often more authentic than edited written copy.

  • Consumers love it because they can express their opinions
  • Researchers love it because it delivers rich insights
  • Decision-makers love it as they get to identify actual customer stories

What are video open-ends?

As the name suggests, video open-ends are just like text-based open-ends but require the respondent to record a video response instead of typing out their answer.

Examples of types of open-ends to ask

At Voxpopme, we’ve tried and tested thousands of open video questions while collecting over 5 million consumer-recorded video responses. So, we wanted to share our knowledge by offering some starter questions that have proven to deliver valuable, visual insights. We’ve put together a collection of simple but effective open-ended questions you can use when crafting your next video research project. These short-format templates will need adapting, combining, or expanding to suit your specific needs but are here to get those creative juices flowing again.

We’ve segmented the question examples based on the various areas of a business to make them relevant to your particular research goals.

Products

  • What would you change/improve about product X?
  • Why do you choose product X over Y?
  • What do you think of the taste/look/feel of new product X?
  • Any other products compare to this and how do they compare?
  • How does or doesn’t this product solve problem X for you?
  • What did you like most about product X?
  • Imagine and explain life without product X? (ethnography study)
  • Show us how you use product X? (ethnography study)

Services

  • What are your expectations/requirements of service X?
  • Any changes you would most improve to the service of brand X?
  • How likely are you to recommend service X and why?
  • Where did you come across this service?
  • What was your primary reason for using/purchasing this service?
  • Any steps you took in your decision to use service X?

Advertising

  • What did you think of advertisement X?
  • Your favorite part of ad X?
  • What emotions did the ad elicit?
  • Which ad was your favorite and why?
  • Are the claims made in the ad believable?
  • How does this ad fit with what you know about brand X?
  • How unique is this ad compared to others you have seen for similar products?
  • In what ways does the ad you just watched impact your purchase consideration for brand X (if at all)?
  • What makes a great ad?

Branding

  • What are your initial thoughts when you hear brand X?
  • In your opinion, what do you think brand X represents?
  • Is your perception of brand X positive or negative and why?
  • What traits are you looking for from a brand in category X?
  • How and where do you come into contact with brand X most?
  • What are the positive attributes of brand X?
  • Any negative attributes of brand X and what are they?

In-store experience

  • How was your last experience when visiting store X?
  • What did you think of the customer support in store X?
  • Why did you choose to shop in store X over its competitors?
  • Do you have an alternative to brand/store X and why?
  • Show us your favorite section/display in store X and tell us why it is?
  • When did you last go to buy a product/service but didn’t buy your intended item and why?
  • Please explain if you would return to this store and the reasons for your answer.

Read next: [Consumer study] What’s a good in-store experience?

Online experience

  • How was your experience shopping with brand X online?
  • Was it easy/difficult to navigate the site and find what you were looking for?
  • Did you experience any difficulties when trying to buy a product from mysite.com?
  • Explain your opinion of our website checkout experience?
  • How did online support work?
  • What don’t you like about your current service provider/product?
  • How does your online experience of ‘brand X’ differ across different digital devices?

Promotions

  • What promotions come to mind when you think of season/event X?
  • Any seasonal promotions would you like to see product/service X offer?
  • What time of year do you begin looking for product or service X?
  • Any promotions stand out most for you in store X?
  • Please show us prominent category X promotions in store Y.
  • How do you prefer to discover promotions for product/service X?
  • What are your thoughts of our loyalty program?
  • How does loyalty program X compare to the loyalty program of competitor Y?

Value positioning

  • Would you say brand X provides value for your money?
  • What are your thoughts on product X’s quality for the price paid?
  • Does cost play a role when purchasing product/service X in category Y?
  • The cost of product/service give you a particular perception of brand X?

Wider brand exploration & personification

  • If Brand X was a celebrity who would they be and why?
  • Which make of car is brand X most similar to?
  • Brands are a party – what type of party guest would brand X be?
  • How has brand X changed over time?
  • Who do you think to be the leader in category X and why?
  • If brand X came to life as a person, what would they be like?
  • Where does brand X rank amongst its competitors and why?
  • Draw what you think X means and explain why.

What do consumers like about video surveys?

Consumers love video because it allows them to easily portray their emotions, which researchers value highly for content richness and ability to drive action in the boardroom. After all, nothing is more powerful than seeing your customers face to face (digitally via video) and sharing insight into their thoughts about your product, service, or brand.

But don’t just take my word for it…

Additional consumer feedback includes…

Shubham

Shubham, 25, of New York, said he “likes the fact that he gets to provide his opinions, and since you are on video, it makes you less shy, and your voice is heard.”

Lauren, 38, of Tallahassee, said leaving a one-minute video is worth it, and it’s great to see that brands get what they need out of the videos.

“Doing video surveys is more fun,” said Meagen, 33, of Forres. “It makes me happy knowing I can make a small difference somewhere.”

The app gives me the confidence to speak out, because I'm quite a shy person.

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