By Jonathan Price
Engagement. Response rates. Data quality. As a market researcher, these are the themes of each and every project. Keeping respondents engaged and tuned in at each stage of research is essential, but easier said than done. The right rewards and incentives are a large part of the solution as well as another increasingly important concept that plays into the big picture: community.
When we say the word “community” many things come to mind. A neighborhood. An ecosystem. A group of people with something in common. In a technology driven society, this concept is rising as people strive to build some kind of connection with others whether it is in person or online.
Loyalty360, a think-tank that focuses on loyalty’s role in marketing, recently decided to take a closer look at the role of community in today’s marketing landscape. The resulting report, called “CMO Challenge: Leveraging Internal and External Communities” did a deep dive into what community means through a series of interviews with CMOs at leading companies such as Meineke, Best Western, GameStop and more. The hope was that these interviews would help others understand the efforts companies are putting into loyalty strategies, from new technologies to strategic services. The main question asked of the executives was: “What are the challenges and opportunities to effectively leveraging internal and external communities in your loyalty, customer experience or VOC processes?”
Instead of producing a report of the findings, this paper goes beyond the typical limitations of the “prescriptive or quantitative survey.” By providing the actual discourse and discussion that ensued after the question was asked, readers can get a peek into each interviewee’s specific thoughts on the subject of community.
Rewards and incentives were a central part of the conversation, as engaging with brand communities often provided the opportunity consumers needed to reaffirm some central aspect of their self-identity. This was intimately linked with the incentive process – personalization, timing, choice and more. As the paper says, communities “create a shared sense of understanding and bolster the trust and loyalty needed to incentivize members to continue building the meaningful bonds that result in rewarding experiences. For many, belonging to a particular community not only offers solidarity, but it can also provide the foundation for a deep sense of identity.”
Marketing leaders interviewed for the paper reiterated this assertion. Through thoughtful delivery of rewards that resonate, brands are one step closer to successful community building. Tammy Lucas from Best Western International said “The challenge we see is the ability to really cut through the clutter and differentiate ourselves with the various brands, distribution partners, and loyalty programs out there…we see a challenge here but also an opportunity to try and communicate and differentiate ourselves in the loyalty community. It still comes down to ensuring that you have a brand presence where it makes sense, messaging the right audience at the right time, in the way they want to be communicated to, and then delivering on the experience that you promised them.”
The concept of loyalty and engagement with a brand starts at the beginning – with the foundation based in solid market research. By giving respondents a reason to join and ongoing reasons to stay involved in the research process, brands have the data quality they need to make business decisions. Technological advancements on every front allow for the incentives and rewards to create highly personalized and relevant respondent experiences. For the research respondent who, let’s face it, has an extremely short attention span, these advancements are vital. Obtaining a reward that is delivered instantly, offers a personal choice and even carries targeted messaging, is what individuals have come to expect from all their digital interactions.
From internal and external communities built by brands for their consumers to communities of market research respondents, the right rewards can secure essential engagement levels. Rewards that resonate, as the CMO Challenge paper says, can “successfully generate this strong sense of community” and build connections. That’s something we can all agree on.
To explore the new paper’s findings in depth, please visit this link: http://www2.virtualincentives.com/cmochallenge