Tips and Tricks #4 – Linking To Discussions and Featured Discussions

For those of you familiar with the Recollective structure, you’ll know that there are two primary areas in the platform to gather insights from your participants: Activities and Discussions. Out of the two, activities is certainly utilized more, however most of the studies I manage use both.

Activities are key, as they allow you to guide participants through a series of tasks to gather answers in a very structured way. Activity responses can be socialized, and conversations surrounding task responses often does ensue, but if a group discussion is your main priority then creating a discussion topic to gather these insights is likely the best way to structure and present these questions.

There are ways to ensure your discussion topics get the attention they deserve.

One of my favourite and likely the most effective way to ensuring participation (aside from providing specific incentives to do so!) is to bridge the gap between activities and discussion topics with a prompt task. The last task in the activity should be set up as a prompt button that brings them to either the Discussions tab, where they can see all available topics, or straight into a specific topic. In the prompt task instructions I recommend stating participation goals, for example, “please provide your reply to this topic and comment on two other participant’s replies”. Continue reading

Recollective Tips & Tricks: Fun with Summary Statistics

Often one of the first things participants see when they login to a Recollective study is the stats bar on the summary page.

To admins this bar gives a high level look at the status of the study. You can see what percentage of your participants have logged in, how many total study visits there have been, the number of completed activities, comments and ratings, and the number of discussion posts.

To participants this bar tells them about their own activity in the study. They can see how many activities they’ve completed, how many times they’ve logged in, the number of ratings and comments they’ve made and how many times they’ve posted in discussions. If they have any overdue activities we’ve highlighted this section in red in the hopes of alarming them into completing them!

Feedback indicates that both admins and participants love this feature. It helps admins to take the pulse of the study and it gamifies the study for participants. It’s amazing how many participants strive to get their bar up to 100%!

Despite it’s popularity with admins and participants alike, in my opinion this feature is underused. The default is to display stats for the entire duration of the study, however this can be updated to display stats for preset date ranges (eg. past 7 days, past 30 days, this month) or if this doesn’t do it for you, you can create a custom start date to begin the stats on.

These options are particularly useful for longer duration studies, however they can be applied to shorter projects as well. Since we know participants respond well to the stats bar, it could, for example, be reset every week or even every day. This will engage your participants as they strive to reach 100% completion each time it is reset. As a best practice, and to avoid an influx of support emails, I recommend letting participants know when and how often the bar will be reset.

Have you had enough of summary stats yet? I didn’t think so. Here’s a couple more stats bar tricks for you.

The Disappearing Stats Bar

Do you love the stats bar but are afraid it may be distracting, confusing or create unnecessary concerns for your clients? We completely understand and have built in a permission to hide it from all client accounts assigned to the study. To make this change edit the study settings in the side panel and make sure the View summary tab statistics option is unchecked.

Now that it’s hidden from your clients, the next inevitable question is: what about the participants? Don’t worry, we’ve covered this as well! If you’d like to hide it from your participants there are two easy ways to do so. The first is by selecting the Summaries button in the right corner of the summary tab and choosing the Hide Statistics option. The second is by selecting the action menu next to the summary statistics section header and choosing the Hide Section option.

Both of these options will hide the summary stats from your participants, your clients (if they’ve been given permission to view them) and even from you. If you’d like to bring them back follow the same instructions, but select either the Show Statistics or Show Section option in these dropdown menus. Although every other section on the summary tab (summary header, current activities, recent responses and topics for discussion) will behave in the same manner, there is one difference with statistics when they are turned back on.

Once re-enabled, there is a link next to the section header that will save this option for your participants. This means if you’ve hidden the stats from your participants you are able to temporarily turn them on so you can check the pulse of the study, but be confident that participants won’t notice this momentary change to their summary page as well. Clicking the Save as default for participants link will enable the stats bar on your participants’ summary pages. If you do not click that link then whenever your page is next refreshed the stats will disappear.

Did we miss anything with the stats bar? Can you see any areas where it can be improved? Add a comment to let us know what you think.

Using Backroom Collaboration in Recollective

A question posed a handful of times in the past few weeks is how to create a backroom comment in Recollective. We’re expanding the backroom commenting capabilities in a future release but for now, this post describes some good practices for backroom comments applied to task responses and excerpts.

Task Response Backroom Comment
The first and most common backroom comment is tied to a task response. To add them you must first navigate to a task response. To do that, click on an activity card and either select a task card or an participant’s name in the Activity Response Summary table at the bottom of the page:

Clicking on a task card will bring you the first response for that task. Alternatively, clicking on a participant’s name opens their response for the first task in the activity. In each scenario there are two comment textboxes beneath the participant’s task response:

The top box is where you can add either Open Comments (visible to anyone who has permission to view that task response) and Backroom Comments. The bottom box is where you can send a private message (probe) to the participant.

To add a backroom comment, select the Backroom Comment option on top of the first comment textbox (you will notice the box turn red), enter your comment and press the Add Comment button.

Excerpt Backroom Comment
To apply a backroom comment to an excerpt, you must first create the excerpt. This is done by selecting a portion of user submitted text with your mouse and clicking the Save Excerpt option in the menu that appears. The Coded Excerpts section of the side panel will automatically open, enabling you to apply codes to your excerpt and add a backroom comment:

Backroom Comment vs. Backroom Task
In both scenarios described above you will notice that underneath the text input fields there is a checkbox labelled “Make this a backroom task” that, by default, is enabled. Keeping this enabled will turn your backroom comment into a “to do” item. This means the person creating the task is either asking someone else to do something (eg. “Please probe more on this response”) or are setting a reminder for themselves to do something.

If you don’t want to create a backroom task and are merely commenting (e.g. “This is a trend we’re beginning to see more often”), uncheck that box to avoid creating a task.

Backroom Comment Notifications
All backroom comments and tasks are easily accessible in the Backroom section of the side panel:

This list shows, in reverse chronological order, all backroom comments made within the study. You can use the options at the top to filter that full list to show outstanding or previously completed tasks.

You can click on a item in the list to be brought to the original task response or excerpt that the backroom comment was made against. For tasks, once they are complete, click the “Mark as Completed” link to move the task from your To Do list to your Completed list. This helps you keep on top of any outstanding tasks to do within the study.







Do you have any suggestions for improvements to backroom comments? Please add your suggestions by commenting on this blog or submitting a feature request directly from your Recollective study (click the Feature Request option in the side panel).

Recollective Tips and Tricks Series

Ramius is very proud of the high level of customer service we provide to our clients. For example, every Recollective site that is commissioned is given a comprehensive “Pre-Launch Check” by one of our Implementation Consultants.

Having done these site checks for almost a year now, we thought it would be a great idea to share some of the best tips and tricks we know and describe how to avoid making mistakes when configuring your Recollective site.

Each month we will try to post a couple of new tips. We hope you find them useful!

Tip #1 – Sending Email Address and Support Contacts

By far, the most commonly forgotten settings are the Sending Email Address and Support Contact fields, both found in Site Administration > Site Setup > Basic Settings:

For the Sending Email Address*, the default address is an unmonitored Ramius account, so it is highly advisable to update this setting. The Sending Email Address has two roles:

  • It is the default address all messages from the system appear to be sent from. Participants can be told to look out for emails from this address and save the address in their contacts to ensure messages aren’t lost in spam or junk filters.
  • It is the address that will capture any bounceback notifications.

*Note: if this Sending Email Address is updated, we highly recommended you set up an SPF record to ensure notifications are delivered properly. Here are instructions for setting up an SPF record.

The Support Contact identifies who participants will email if they have difficulty logging in. If they cannot login they will typically click the Help button which launches their email client. They send an email to whichever address is listed here, so it is very important to update this field to ensure that any participants experiencing login difficulties are brought to your attention and given assistance.

Tip #2 – Text / Photo Task Type

Another common oversight is to allow participants the option of uploading a photo as part of a task response (for the Text/Photo task type) without instructions to do so. The quick fix for this is simple: don’t overlook the option to disable photo attachments when setting up the task:

Unchecking the Photo Attachments box (as displayed above) in task setup will disable the photo attachments box from appearing when participants are responding to a Text/Photo task. I always recommend disabling this box if participants have not been given instructions for quantity and image type. Ignoring this best practice doesn’t hugely impact the study, however it may cause some confusion for participants and trigger support emails.

Our experience indicates that when instructions and next steps are clear, your participants have more time to focus on the study and less time to be distracted with avoidable questions.


Recollective Release – June 2012

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, put them to the test in Recollective’s new Image Review feature. My guess, the final product will be worth a lot more.

To use this new tool, study moderators will upload an image for their participants to review. Participants can place ‘markers’ such as like, dislike, neutral, onto the image and annotate those markers. The image is assigned an overall rating by each participant who can also be asked for additional commentary. Markers are optional and their labels can be customized to suit your study needs. You can even impose a maximum and minimum for the number of times each type of marker is used by a participant.

Ad Concept Testing

When it’s time to analyze the findings of this task, data is provided as a heat-map summary of all the markers placed on the image. This heat-map can be focused on one or more participant’s response and filtered by segments. You can even narrow in on a specific zone of the image to view a detailed analysis of all markers within that area the export the results to CSV and take images as a PDF or graphic file.

To get a full understanding of this new and exciting feature check out our overview video.

Client Permissions

In addition to Image Review, we’ve also heavily reworked the Client Observer role in Recollective. Before there were only three configurable options for client permissions:

  • Access to site admin
  • Access to archived studies
  • Interact with participants

This definitely covered the basics, but as always, we strive to give our customers more than just the basics! To fully ensure Client Observers aren’t shown any prohibited participant information, the following permissions can now be assigned:

Client Observer permission settings

Before, client permissions were configured on a client-by-client basis. Now these permissions are set for the entire Study and clients must be specifically assigned to Studies. So this means clients will only be able to see the Studies you’ve allowed them to see. To assign a client to a Study, add a Client account as you normally would and assign them to a Study the same way you would a participant (green Add to Study card on their profile).

To edit permissions go to the Study Settings section in the Side Panel, and select the Edit Settings button. At the bottom of the panel you can select which permissions you’d like to assign to every Client Observer in the study.

For customers who would like to run a single site used for many different clients, Ramius is introducing a modified cost structure. Please contact your Partner Manager or email Steve Thompson to schedule a time to discuss. There is no change to the existing prices for Recollective provided each site hosts only a single client.

Did we go too far with Client Observer permissions? Do you see value in our new Image Review feature? Let us know in the comments!

Recollective Release – April 2012

Just as the Market Research Mobile World event was taking place in Amsterdam last week, Ramius was keeping up with the trend of innovative mobile marketing research technology by releasing a new app in the Apple app store.

Recollective was built with HTML5 and CSS3, which has enabled it to be a web based app – that means it is available anytime, on any connected device. So if Recollective is already a web app, why was it necessary to release one in the Apple app store? And why don’t we have an app in the Android Marketplace?

All good questions! The answer is Apple currently prevents iPhone and iPad users from accessing media files saved on their device while sending emails, or in our case, when uploading photos directly to Recollective tasks. Our new app eliminates this shortcoming, but ensures Recollective’s ease-of-use remains.

One of the many aspects of Recollective that we’re really proud of is it’s intuitive design. Participants are never left wondering what to do next or how do complete a task. To ensure user experience is as optimal as possible, there’s no need to instruct participants to go and download this app. If a participant needs it, a notification will appear instructing them to follow the link provided to the Recollective Uploader in the app store.

Once installed on their device the application will:

  • Launch automatically when it’s required
  • Allow for existing photos and videos to be selected from the device
  • Allow for the capturing of new photos and videos from the device
  • Upload all photos and videos with a single click
  • Automatically return participants to the study once the upload has been completed

Mobile research on Recollective just makes sense!

Other Release News – Webcam Video Upload

Last month we released the Video Task Type empowering researchers with a new way to gather even richer visual insights from study participants. This month we’ve taken video to the next level. As well as being able to upload any video from their media gallery or any online source, participants can now record a webcam video response directly into Recollective with a single click. Recollective automatically grabs, uploads and converts the video making it incredibly easy to now add video to your study.

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!

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.