My New Favourite Question

Not long ago I found myself in the midst of what was disguised as a quick online survey but proved to be a significant investment of my time. I opted in because I wanted to contribute; I opted out because I didn’t want to contribute that much.

Striking the right balance between workload and incentive is difficult.  When I’m working with a team that’s new to research communities I can, understandably, expect to hear at least one question dealing with this dilemma:

“How many questions should/can I ask in a day?”
“How much time can I expect participants to spend contributing to the community on a given day?”
“Is X enough incentive for Y time spent?”

I can provide some broad guidelines based on my exposure to other communities but I always conclude with a confident, “it depends.” The answers to these questions depend on a number of variables: demographics, subject matter, incentive offered etc. Continue reading

Recollective partner Lexia wins Merca 2.0 award for best market research agency in Mexico

Ramius is extremely pleased to offer our congratulations to Lexia, a leading Recollective partner in Mexico, on winning the 2014 Merca 2.0 award for best marketing research agency. 

Here’s a snippet from their blog post, or read the full release here.

MERCA 2.0 AWARD BEST AGENCY 2014LEXIA wants to share with you this news that fills us with joy and pride of having been awarded for the second time by the renowned magazine Merca 2.0 for Best Market Research Agency, the first time was in 2008.

These Merca 2.0 prizes are awarded to the most outstanding companies in marketing industry domestic and international. Thus, the leading magazine honors marketing agencies, media and strategies more relevant this year.

In the twelfth edition of the award, the editorial team selected players in the industry that this year were protagonists thanks to the effectiveness of their campaigns, achievements and recognitions met, as well as the growth and impact they had at a business level.

Recollective Now Offers Private Messaging and More…

Out with the old and in with the new – although not stated exactly like this, that is my summation of this year’s GRIT report. As written in the opening remarks by editor Leonard Murphy, “market research is still changing, but at this point the change has been acknowledged by the majority and embraced by the many.” What this is referring to is the move from old research techniques, such as telephone surveys, to what is being called ‘New MR’.

Recollective is quickly making a name for itself as one of the most innovative new software platforms available to agencies looking to conduct New MR. Hot on the heels of the Video Task released only a few weeks ago, we’re delighted to say that we’ve further expanded the capabilities to include new private messaging, email broadcast and activity preview features.

Private Messaging Feature Update

Private Messaging is an important piece in a researcher’s community management toolkit. If you’re currently conducting a Recollective study, the Messages tool enables participants to contact you and for you to privately converse with them.

Messages are delivered to the participant’s web-based inbox inside Recollective. For participants these messages are viewed as a single threaded discussion, with responses kept inline below the original message. Admins see an index page listing all active message threads. Messages marked ‘Awaiting a reply’ by admins make it easy to identify any participants slow to respond to your questions.

Private messaging is important for researchers who want to probe for further insights from participants outside of a specific task response or open discussion topic. They can even be used for asynchronous text-based IDIs.

One of our goals is to make our customers jobs as easy as possible while using Recollective, so when it’s time to undertakde the task of analyzing messages, they can be coded, excerpted and included in transcripts just like any other participant data.

Email Broadcast Feature Updates

Not only have we tackled private messaging, but we’ve also made huge improvements to Recollective’s Email Broadcast feature.

Simply filter participants by the appropriate criteria, such as the date they were added to the study, last activity completion, segments – or hand select individuals using the people-picker. We’ve also included the ability to insert dynamic fields (such as first name, last name, or username) so that your emails can be professionally personalized to the recipient.

Task Preview Update

In addition to messaging, we’ve improved usability for researchers by introducing a feature to preview Activities before they are made available to participants. This enables researchers to experience the task flow as a participant to check logic and links, catch those typos and double check that it is what you envisioned.


I’m not sure how our team managed to pack all of this (plus some unglamourous bug fixes and UI updates) into one release, but they did. If you have any questions about these updates, would like more information on conducting Recollective studies or just want to chat with a friendly Canadian company, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. If not, then watch out for more changes coming to your Recollective site next month – of course we’re at it again!

Five Questions With Gen Lamorie-Wallace of Phase 5

Gen Lamorie-Wallace is a busy woman. By day, she is an Ottawa, Canada-based Vice President with market research consultancy Phase 5. By night, she runs a restaurant with her chef husband in a trendy city neighbourhood. Sometimes, Gen’s worlds collide and inspiration strikes. For her, it’s when a ‘foodie’ patron pulls out a smartphone and starts tweeting an online commentary about his dining experience. This experience as a restaurateur informs Gen’s belief that market researchers need to understand how our communication culture is shifting and to be able to offer to clients new approaches that mimic this “new normal” for communications. Following her presentation Lessons Learned When Adapting Technology Platforms for Qualitative Research at the recent MRIA QRD Conference, we had a chance to talk to Gen about the forces that are transforming consumer culture and the opportunities for businesses and MR.

How is a business/brand’s relationship with its customers and prospects changing?

Social media has ushered in a seismic shift in a business/brand’s influence and control. People expect to be treated as true stakeholders. The number of people in my Twitter feed that I see talk to or even yell at businesses/brands/government representatives is amazing. There is an expectation from customers for genuine dialogue and for their opinions to matter. And these opinions do matter — social media is a vehicle unlike anything we have seen before that lets customers have a significant influence on what is being said about a business or brand. Social media has made social democracy a reality and exploring a research approach that mimics this keeps us relevant as researchers.

What is “the new normal?”

Well, as an illustration, let’s say I walk into my local Starbucks and I see something I like or dislike. My first inclination is not to mention it to my friend or partner who is physically there with me, instead, I tweet it for all the world, or at least my followers, to see! A culture has developed where it is completely normal to publicize our every thought and observation that was once random or passing at best. And we now do this to the world!

We think the world is interested in this and it is our duty to communicate it to those in our circle, however small or broad that may be. This kind of normal is evidenced by the surging popularity of social media platforms like Pinterest which is essentially an online bulletin board that lets you “curate” and showcase your interests. My Facebook News Feed has surged with Pinterest mentions lately — everyone wants to broadcast their interests and hobbies to each other!

I have also really noticed the use of terms like “curating” and “curator” in casual conversation. In a previous life I worked in museums and these terms were reserved for that profession. Now, we are all curators of our own lives and our natural inclination is to broadcast to those in our circle of followers and beyond.

At Phase 5, we took notice of this “new normal” from a research perspective and came up with a social engagement process that relies on online technology to facilitate a holistic approach to engaging with “stakeholders” in the manner in which they are accustomed to.

Phase 5 has been in the marketing research business since 1991 and recently, launched a new division called Konnex. What prompted Konnex?

Konnex is a research-based consultancy that helps gain intelligence from and connect with audiences through social media platforms. Konnex is backed by Phase 5, which has more than 20 years of experience in research and strategy consulting. Konnex was formed as a sister company to Phase 5 as a direct response to the influence and importance that social media plays in today’s business environment.

We understand the changes to the marketing model that is, more and more, affected by social conversations. We help our clients engage audiences as meaningful stakeholders in important business processes. We offer methodological rigour, deep analytical skills and strategic insight that comes with a research background. The rigour and research background that we bring to the table are key differentiators.

Online social engagement technology platforms bring with them less structure than traditional research approaches like focus groups. Less structure is good from a participant’s perspective but, at the end of the day, having a partner that can apply rigour and traditional research management and interpretation principles is really key. The rigour and strategic insight that we apply to the findings are really what sets us apart.

What has you excited about the future of MR?

The evolution that I continually see. I recently attended a conference in Miami that was focused on social media and research. The industry is not staying still — there is a huge appetite for applying research approaches to this new reality. I think market research has a bit of a reputation for nerdy stats geeks, but it is anything but! Well, at least I think I’m not too nerdy!

It is not just the suppliers either who are innovating — I love the fact that I am getting more and more requests from clients to show them innovative approaches to conducting research. The fluid and interactive nature of some of these new approaches is really neat and the ongoing engagement you get with your participants — who are now our “innovation stakeholders” — is so much more rewarding. I much prefer these experiences to the more traditional qualitative techniques like one-off focus groups or interviews.

What keeps you up at night?

My husband’s snoring!

Seriously though . . . I guess just staying on top of the rapid changes in today’s social environment and always thinking of how this can be applied to our research approaches. As an example, the huge popularity of Pinterest or research industry buzz around gamification has me exploring how our online approaches can mimic these trends.

Thanks to Gen Lamorie-Wallace for taking time to speak with Ramius as part of our new “Five Questions With . . .” blog feature where we profile business partners and thought leaders who challenge and inspire us with their ideas. Disclosure: Ramius is a technology partner to Phase 5.

Supercharge Your Recollective Study With New Video & Language Capabilities!

It’s been a busy couple of months. Since launching Recollective in November we’ve implemented some huge research communities and lots of short projects. We’ve been listening to every bit of feedback we get and are delighted that you’re all finding it such an easy-to-use and powerful platform.

One feature we’ve been itching to release from the very beginning is Video task types. We’re really pleased to announce that it’s live and you can now create Video tasks in any study. Your participants will be able to upload and share their videos, start conversations about them and spread their ‘likes’ around.

The outcome? Richer and deeper insights from participants. Watch as they use products, shop or even complete a video diary. With results like that, who wouldn’t be excited!

To allow for maximum flexibility, videos can be submitted in a variety of different formats (MPEG, VP8, WMV, etc.), using almost any device (computer, tablet, smartphone, flip camera). The outcome is a converted H.264 video with a back-up Flash version. Don’t be satisfied with low-resolution grainy images, Recollective accepts HD video upload, playback and download, so you can watch participants in cystal clear clarity.

Video tasks and diaries are enabled in your site now in “demo mode” which let’s you try it out with 15 second clips. To upgrade to the full feature, give your account representative a call for pricing.

Our Multilingual Capabilities are Growing

Another new feature that we’re really excited about is our support for two new languages. Out of the box, Recollective can now be switched between English, French and Spanish. Participants choose the language they prefer for the interface, researchers can create questions and comment in any language too; all of which makes Recolelctive the perfect platform for studies in multiple languages.

With more languages to be introduced throughout 2012, now is a great time to start planning your international research projects on Recollective. Of course, if you have a specific language that’s required for an upcoming project, let us know a month in advance and we will try to accommodate your request.

For more info, why don’t you get in touch with us?

Hump Day Weekly Round-Up — 30/11

When I first started at Ramius almost a year ago I tried my best to shorten the learning curve as much as possible. As Ramius designs and develops online community and social networking software, I found myself being exposed to topics like Web 2.0, social media, customer-centricity, customer communities, crowdsourcing, cloud computing — certainly not topics I’ve ever needed to be familiar with! And with the launch of our new Recollective software, I’m now being exposed to the marketing research industry with acronyms like MROC, IDIs, etc… The list is vast!

One way to immerse myself in all of this is to meet with my colleague Simon Chen from time-to-time and discuss trends and technologies in our industry. Recently, this was more formalized as a weekly lunch meeting that we have dubbed our Weekly Hump Day Roundup. We find it’s a fun way to set a regular time during our work week and keep up-to-date with what’s going on around us. Doing it together helps us build on each others insights. Since we do leverage social media to do this, we thought we would also blog, tweet — generally share with you what interests and inspires us. And we hope you’ll feed us back what you think!

For our inaugural Roundup post, I thought I would let you know of some blogs that I started to read early on.

As a technology company with know-how in online communities and social business software, we follow popular blogs like:

TechCrunch – Plain and simple we visit this site because Tech Crunch is the tech industry’s bible. That’s why we read it.

Mashable – Mashable is awesome. We’re never disappointed when we visit their site…. everyday! It’s a quick read and keeps us current with an emphasis on social media news.

ReadWriteWeb – For the similar reasons as why we like Mashable, we scan the headlines of RWW daily.

Bokardo – Simon still wonders who at Ramius borrowed (and never returned) his copy of Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter, the Bokardo author. Read it to be inspired by a guy that thinks and cares about user experience when designing web application interfaces.

Steve Rubel – Understanding social media through the eyes of an industry thought leader.

Web Strategy – Ramius has followed blog author Jeremiah Owyang for several years. Part of the reason is because Jeremiah covered our ‘white label’ online community and social networking platforms as an analyst. But also because he keeps us up to date with how companies can use technology to connect and engage with customers.

Alltop – With our new Recollective software, Ramius has designed an offering for the research and insights space. We scan blog aggregation sites like Alltop for the latest in Market and Qualitative Research.

Some daily blogs on our must-read list include:

Greenbook Market Research Blog – This blog is a good source of NEW market research thinking. The Ramius team very much enjoys the thought and research that goes into the GRIT Reports.

Building My Own Ladder and Spych- We consider Ben Smithee‘s personal blog, and the one for his company Spych, to be great reads. Ben ‘gets’ the impact of the Social Web on a brand’s relationship to their customers and applies this to challenge MR. Something the Ramius team very much respects and finds commonalities with.

Research Rockstar – For a firm that has expert know-how in online communities and designing and building supporting technology, the lot of us are not researchers beyond taking research method courses in Uni. Research Rocks is a good way to learn the basics of quant and qual research.

The LoveStats Blog – In a recent blog we mentioned that the Ramius TMRE Team was unable to leave our booth and attend any sessions. So instead of learning through them we did the next best thing and followed along with Annie Pettit as she live blogged summaries. In addition to providing insights into TMRE and other industry conferences, this blog is a good way to get a different take on market research trends.

As a new recruit, the first three sites on this list were tremendously helpful for learning the ins and outs of the industry space that Ramius occupies. Once we decided to build Recollective the rest of the sites/blogs on this list were immensely helpful for learning about the market research industry.

From these sites, and many others, Simon and I will regularly highlight individual blogs or blog aggregate sites that we find insightful, thought provoking, controversial and most importantly interesting. So stay tuned for more Weekly Hump Day RoundUps!

A Ramius Reflection: IIR USA – The Market Research Event 2011 #TMRE

Late last Wednesday night the Ramius team returned from Florida tired but excited about their trip. The TMRE conference exceeded all of our expectations.

Before leaving, we drafted a schedule that was packed with sessions and keynotes to attend, booth duty and of course some time to network. However, when our team arrived they quickly realized this plan had to be thrown out the window.

The guys were so busy at the booth that they didn’t have a chance to leave it for the entire three days.On their return, Alfred Jay, CEO, Philippe Dame, COO and Simon Chen, Senior Consultant debriefed the rest of us and here are a few snippets from that conversation that I thought you might be interested in:

 

What are your overall impressions of TMRE?

Simon:TMRE 2011 was a great event for Ramius to exhibit at! Timing-wise, it coincided with our launch of Recollective, Ramius’ new cloud-based MROC software. TMRE was well-attended and our booth team enjoyed meeting many of the 1,200-odd delegates and introducing them to Ramius, the company, and to Recollective, the product. Hat tip to the IIR event team that planned the event.

Philippe: It was definitely worth exhibiting at TMRE as it’s a well-focused conference that clearly attracts the decision makers in the market research industry. We spent most of our time at our exhibit booth but I would have loved to attend the sessions. That said, I learned a lot in the conversations we had and look forward to attending again next year.

What did you enjoy about the event?

Alfred: The conference was certainly valuable in terms of speaking to a broad spectrum of people in the MR industry. The conversations we had were very valuable in setting our future direction.

Philippe: Meeting people from a wide range of disciplines that make up the MR industry. We got lots of valuable and positive feedback about Recollective.

What was the hardest part of the three day conference?

Philippe: We had planned to attend some sessions and thus alternate standing at our booth. It was busy enough that we never left the booth and so we stood for a very long time without a chair in sight. Standing all day just killed my back and is a reminder to hit the gym!

Simon: Not being able to participate in the main conference program which had a terrific line up.

What was your most memorable moment at TMRE?

Simon: Two come to mind. One was during my tour of the exhibit hall during the Monday evening reception. I walked by the Affinova booth and bumped into their CMO, Jeffrey Henning. Although I keep up-to-date with Jeff via Twitter and his blog, we probably haven’t had much of a chance to connect in person for a couple of years. When I went to say hello with a handshake, Jeff caught me off guard with a ‘bro hug’ instead to the laughter of his colleagues.

The other moment was watching the Peabody ducks march in on a red carpet to their daily digs in the hotel fountain. A nice tradition at a nice venue!

Finally, what could we do to improve for the next conference we attend?

Alfred: We should make more active efforts to visit all the booths and network the other exhibitors.

Philippe: Next year, we’ll be better setup to give a demonstration of our software right in the booth. We’ll have more tangible case studies to share and I think that will excite our booth visitors even more.

Due to the size of the conference centre, the exhibit hall and meeting rooms were a bit spread out. Not everyone mingled or came by the exhibit hall. As exhibitors, we’d obviously like as much foot traffic as possible. Anything that can be done to get attendees to spend time in exhibit hall is appreciated.

Simon: Although Ramius has been developing online community software for some 13 years, Recollective is our first product specifically designed for the MR industry, and TMRE 2011 was the first trade conference at which we exhibited. So, it was valuable for the Ramius team to gain direct feedback from visitors to our booth. Next time, we will have some of the team participating in the sessions themselves so we can offer and bring back more insights.

By all accounts, The Market Research Event was a success! Networking with and learning from the other delegates, gaining insights on industry trends and themes, and probably the most important of all, introducing the market research world to Recollective were well worth the trip to the conference. I think it’s safe to say we’ll be back next year, and will be on the lookout for other conferences to attend in the mean time.

The Market Research Event 2011 #TMRE #MRX

The count down is on. Ramius’ TMRE team is gathering their supplies, finalizing their conference strategy and saying their good-byes. This Sunday Phillipe Dame, Simon Chen (@sylc) and Alfred Jay will be jetting off to sunny Orlando where they will be meeting up with the who’s who of the Market Research community.

While there we plan on checking out as many sessions as possible, but with so many interesting presenters it was hard to choose. Official TMRE tweeter Nick Zeckets (@nickonbiz) lists his Top Seven Session picks. While I think they all look great, we’ve also compiled a list of must see sessions of our own (this list only represents a fraction of what we plan on attending):

  • “Valuing Website Ratings versus Traditional Survey Ratings: Do They Tell the Same Story”, presented by Dr. D. Randall Brandt from Maritz Research is one session that we won’t be missing.
  • Tuesday at 10:45am we plan on learning “How to Maximize the Relationship Between Social Media and Market Research, Improve Worldwide Customer Communications and Conserve Resources”, presented by Texas Instruments.
  • Symrise USA and Socratic Technologies Inc. are discussing how to “Sniff Out Enhanced Panel Insights By Bridging Multiple Research Methodologies”.

Aside from the many sessions we’re excited about attending and posting blog recaps on, we’re also going to be tweeting up a storm. I strongly suggest you follow @ramiuscorp for up to the minute conference updates.

For us November 9th isn’t going to be just about the conference. We’re very excited about launching our new market research platform Recollective that day! If you’re lucky enough to be attending TMRE be sure to stop by booth 809 to talk to our team about this groundbreaking technology, and what it could mean for your research. Look for the big red signs and you’ll find us. We look forward to seeing everyone there.

Where Would We Be Without Our Stakeholders? Pt. II

How many Market Researchers does it take to design the ultimate online qualitative research tool? We hope a handful will do it!

As mentioned in my last blog, earlier this year we sat down with some of our existing customers, who happen to be Market Researchers, and peppered them with questions about their idea of the dream online tool. The feedback we received was overwhelming! In the many hours we spent talking with them we took dozens of pages worth of notes. The result of those conversations and notes was Recollective, our soon to be released research platform.

All the researchers reading this are no doubt wondering what our consultants said. I’ve broken down their requests into categories and added what I believe are the top 2 – 4 feature requests for each.

Coding Content for Reports

  • The ability to highlight text in a content item or discussion reply and apply one or more codes that can then be used to generate custom reports of verbatims.
  • The ability to have overlapping sets of highlighted areas (e.g. the entire paragraph is tagged “Negative Sentiment”, while one line in that same text can be tagged as “Email Support”).

Reporting and Participant Tracking

  • Integrating a tool that assists in the review of qualitative research data is critical. Collecting and exporting the data must be quick, automated and easy for researchers.
  • The ability to filter by a single person is useful for gauging participation, as well as for drilling in more depth to view that person’s full contribution.
  • Easily generating a list of participants that either met or didn’t meet a participation criterial is very useful for providing proper compensation.
  • Email reminders for lack of participation would be useful for maintaining a quote of active participants.

Guiding Users via Tasks

  • Admins have an interface to select questions, discussions and polls as an activity to be completed by participants. Activities can be targeted to specific segments of participants.
  • Tasks can have a “should be completed by” date, which triggers an email to the user if it is not completed on time.
  • A person-by-person breakdown of task completion would be useful (e.g. Mary Smith: 2/3 mandatory tasks completed and 3/15 optional tasks completed).

Participant Responses

  • The ability to hide other participants’ responses until a response is entered, thereby  avoiding that person being influenced by others.
  • The ability to embed images and videos into responses.
  • Discussions could offer the ability to ask an open-ended question, which is automatically followed up by a poll.

Data Export

  • Export should include the name of the person and a by-line summarizing the basics of their bio “Mary Smith, East Region, Customer for 5+ years, female”. The byline compositions of fields should be customizable.
  • RTF or Word-native export is ideal

Which of these features will make it into Recollective’s platform? I’m not telling… yet! When v1 is released in the next few weeks I’ll have more information on which of these requests will be included on day one, which will be included in future versions, and which, if any, didn’t make the cut at all. For those of you who can’t wait, you can download a teaser feature sheet here.

Let us know via comments what your thoughts are on this list. Did our research partners hit or miss the mark? In your opinion, what features are must-haves for a one-stop-shop online insight community, designed for market researchers?

Where Would We Be Without Our Stakeholders? Pt. I

Gone are the days when company execs meet in boardrooms to decide which products we as consumers need. In order to stay relevant and succeed in today’s competitive marketplace it’s necessary for companies to engage their consumer stakeholders to hear what they actually want. Increasingly companies are looking to consumers to not only help design products, but also to advertise via word-of-mouth a la social media and to ultimately help shape the future of their businesses.

Examples of this can be seen absolutely everywhere, from small start-ups to major international conglomerates. In the 19th century the Oxford English Dictionary asked volunteers to contribute sentence examples for every word in the English language. More recently, Starbucks leveraged consumer ideas with MyStarbucksIdea.com, while Dell (perhaps the most famous example of them all) engaged customers with their Idea Storm community.

The three cases highlighted above are all examples of large companies, but what about smaller ones? One such company that I’m particularly fond of (and not only because I work there) is Ramius Corporation.  Traditionally a vendor of community platforms, Ramius has taken a slight turn. About a year ago we started noticing a trend; our customers were increasingly using our Sixent platform to conduct MROCs. Sixent, a traditional enterprise social network, actually performed quite well in this situation. However, because our customers were increasingly asking for this type of ESN adaptation we thought “why not build a product specifically for market researchers?”

Unlike large companies that can call upon an army of volunteers, we sat down with a handful of our Market Research customers. Over the course of a few months we learned what their idea of the ultimate, dream online qualitative market research tool would be. Based on these conversations and our expertise building social networking software, we designed Recollective.  Recollective is a natural complement to our successful suite of social networking platforms. Although not released yet, we’re anticipating great success. Like the success stories highlighted above, we listened to what our customers were asking for, solicited them for advice on must-have tools/features and have designed what we believe will be every qualitative researcher’s online dream tool. Check out our feature sheet to read the specifics, or stay tuned for more blogs coming shortly that will highlight why every market researcher needs to be aware of this innovative, ground breaking technology!