For this post, long-term Ramius research agency partner, Andreas Noe, a founding partner at Phase 5, shares his thoughts about using Recollective for testing campaigns and exploring elements of brand identity.
Andreas has more than 25 years of hands-on experience in marketing research and marketing consulting spanning many sectors, including financial services, professional services, information and media, technology and manufacturing.
He also has experience with many research methods, including quantitative, qualitative and data mining methods. At Phase 5, he has managed countless engagements, and developed particular expertise in performance measurement and Voice of the Customer (VoC) studies.
We have all been there before – a client has an urgent request to test some materials with key audiences prior to a full launch. Even with careful planning, project timelines still get squeezed, and the client team needs that disaster check before proceeding with implementation.
This is understandable, though stressful on everyone. We have found Recollective from Ramius to be a useful tool for conducting testing research on several recent studies with B2B and professional audiences. Here is why:
- Convenient access for study participants.
Participants can join in at a time and place that is most convenient for them, using whatever device they prefer. Some find time to complete the testing activities at work. Others prefer to do it at home. Some post their response from multiple locations, squeezing time in even while they are mobile. This improves rates of participation and promotes more timely participation.
For instance, a busy executive commented on the ability to easily and effectively post a comment from her mobile phone, while waiting for someone at the airport.
- Promotes mix of independent thinking and groupthink, which cannot easily be built into focus groups and in-depth interviews alone.
This mix of methods is highly effective when testing executions, where it is often desirable to gauge independent reaction to some creative materials before exposing it to a broader discussion among all participants. And since activities can be sequenced, we need not worry about having all participants online at the exact same point in time. With careful task planning and instructions, there is ample opportunity to socialize any topic for a broader discussion.
We planned for this specifically in one study, and noted material differences in the views of participants before and after socializing the individual level feedback. On the one hand, we assessed that message content for one online banner ad had several issues. On the other hand, we learned that some issues were more important than others following some online discussions about the various issues. This helped our client prioritize their improvement efforts.
- Improved audience reach.
This was particularly helpful in one study where the client required input from professionals across the country, including those in major urban centres and those in rural regions of Canada. This is feasible when doing qualitative interviews by telephone, but more costly to achieve when doing live focus groups.
- More cost effective than focus groups. Our clients no longer want to commit to big budgets to undertake this kind of testing research.
By using Recollective, there are no travel costs for getting the study team across the country. Moreover, the charges for using the online platform are far less than facility charges for focus groups.
- Improved speed of execution. Similarly, multiple groups can be done over several days concurrently, even with the same moderator.
There is no need to plan for travel time. In addition, with useful downloadable reports, like full transcripts, wordcloud summaries and participation charts, reports can be produced more quickly as well.
- Improved client access to fieldwork and immediate results.
Clients have direct access to the feedback and the results, and can provide input to the moderators more readily than in focus groups or for in-depth telephone interviews. In one instance, we gave our client a daily download of the transcripts for work completed to that date, which they found useful for sharing highlights with other team members. And we did not have to worry about trying to transcribe poor quality audiotapes from an interview or focus group, or wait days to have a transcribing team do their work.
- Less burden on study participants than having to attend a focus group, getting to the facility on time, often in a busy major urban centre.
This is quite relevant when testing brand creative materials. Respondents sometimes comment that it seems excessive to attend a two hour group discussion to discuss brand executions. For example, one client was not too keen to tell company Presidents and CEOs in customer organizations that they were inviting them to attend a lengthy focus group to review ad executions. By offering to do the testing online using this platform, those individuals were more willing to participate and provide their input.
- More effective probing.
With input from the client teams, we can probe more effectively on individual comments than having to do so on the fly in groups or telephone interviews. Clients can observe the online discussions and suggest probes to the moderator. Alternatively, they can review the posts and probes later, and still offer suggestions on ways to address the research question under examination.
- More opportunities to touch down, take stock, course correct.
Since the fieldwork often takes place over several days, it is helpful to have daily debriefs, discuss findings and emerging issues and take corrective action as required. The Recollective platform accommodates this with an easy to use programming interface and activity scheduling tools.
For example, in one study, we tried a few techniques to generate some ideas for a particular concept, but they were not very effective. We huddled quickly with the client and changed course. It took more time for us to discuss what we wanted to change and how with the client, than it did to program the changes into the online platform, which study participants were to see the following day.
This is far more difficult with traditional focus groups where there are more constraints on the end times for discussions and for in-depth interviews where it may be cumbersome to put an interview on hold until you decide how best to course correct with the client.