How Top Insight Communities Engage Members

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Research engagement is a key topic of conversation in the insights industry, especially when it comes to dedicated insight communities.

Insight communities are key platforms of insight generation, allowing stakeholder organisations to directly connect to their customers, target audience, and the wider consumer population. But for those insight communities to return the effort and resource investment stakeholders put in, research participants need to be engaged enough to provide high-quality, in-depth data that can directly inform key decisions.

So, what practical steps can insight teams take to engage research community members?

Vary the Research Tasks

If variety is the spice of life, then monotony is the death of any trace of interest. That is true for life and true for market research. But research is voluntary on the part of consumers, so to keep generating valuable insights, insight teams need to make sure their research is engaging enough to capture and keep participants’ attention throughout the study.

Varying the research tasks is one way to keep participants on their toes. Using a multi-methodology research project filled with tools both old and new means insight teams can take advantage of all the benefits of many methodologies and mitigate the consequences of missing one or more. This creates well-rounded insights as a result with help from truly interested respondents.

Most insight communities tend to be qual-orientated as communities work well for inspiring deep conversations between participants and with researchers and stakeholders too. But insight communities have the potential to be busy hubs of insight generation of all natures, qual, quant and more creative methodologies, so getting a good mix of them all will only enhance the research experience for both insight teams and participants.

Make Sure your Wording is Clear and Concise

Clarity is key when creating research tasks for participants to take part in. If a participant takes part in a survey and doesn’t quite know what the question is asking or doesn’t know how to answer the question because their experience doesn’t directly match up, then researchers are going to gain inaccurate or vague answers. While these can still be useful when analysed with other deeper answers, if your task only gets inaccurate or vague answers in return then there won’t be much to analyse at all.

Now, what seems clear to one person will have a different meaning to another, so getting the wording of a research task proofread before making it live will help researchers be sure that they have a good chance of getting relevant, in-depth answers from the tasks they set live in the insights community.

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Make it Easy for People to Take Part

This is a basic design premise of both consumerism, user experience and market research. If respondents have to work hard to figure out how to get to your research tasks in the insights community, then they’re going to get frustrated, bored and even bemused with the whole notion. This will come across very clearly in their responses to the research tasks even if they do find and complete them. If your tasks are too hard to find then it’s likely you’ll not get any responses at all.

Clearly signpost the way to active research tasks, lounge-like discussion areas, and places where they can either redeem their points or take advantage of their incentives. While ‘click here’ is a suitable and common call to action most of us still see and use on a daily basis, there are other ways of making it obvious where to click without overusing the phrase. Try instead to use variations like, “learn more”, “Sign up here”, or even “take part now”.

Communicate Outside of Scheduled Research Tasks.

Communication is the key to all relationships, including the ones that insight teams and stakeholders build with their respondents. Insight communities are great for continuous insight generation, so perpetuating that conversation outside of scheduled research tasks takes a bit of effort but is well-rewarded by the insights that appear.

This opens up the research topic at hand to all respondents in the community rather than just those available at the time and means that the sample will be well-rounded, eliminating any chance of the data being biased.

Use Gamification Techniques

One of the more recent techniques to change the face of research is gamification. Popularised by innovative insight professionals such as Betty Adamou, gamification can engage insight community members more by incorporating fun elements into the data collection stage of research.

This can come in many forms throughout the respondents’ research experience, with the most common being that each task completed earns points that add to their total and the respondents in the first, second, and third places on the leaderboard.

But gamification can go a lot further than implementing a leader board to incite competition and more answers. Incorporating augmented or even virtual reality is the higher end of this scale, where respondents can test products, environments, and more concepts that would otherwise have been done through surveys, focus groups or creative qual tools.

Secure Data Channels

While this isn’t something thought about in this scenario, one of the best ways to help research respondents feel comfortable enough to engage in research tasks more often is to make sure their data and their person is secure. Not one research respondent wants to feel like they’re not safe when talking to people on the internet, and so it’s our responsibility to make sure they are the safest they can be while providing us with data.

They have control over what data they provide to us, so if we are to get the desired data, stakeholders and research agencies will need to vet any external sample or software providers they hire to create the most secure research experience possible.


Market research is very much a give-and-take industry where insight teams are only the middle man between consumers and the organisations who serve them, but conversation goes both ways and both need to feel adequately rewarded when the conversation ends.

That’s why incentives are arguably one of the most effective engagement tactics known to the insights industry. Money makes the world go around; by incentivising research tasks and participation insight teams are helping research participants feel adequately rewarded for the conversations they have with the businesses who are using and most likely profiting from the data customers provide.

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