Online Focus Groups & IDIs: Why All Tools Are Not Created Equal.
It is amazing how quickly things can change, or innovation can be accelerated, when your business model has been so severely disrupted. That’s what has happened to the market research and insights business. Covid-19 has accelerated the use of live webcam and virtual meeting technology to conduct qualitative consumer and B2B research. This is the “new normal.” Most qualitative market research suppliers have jumped on the bandwagon out of sheer necessity. But Aha! Insights Technology is no ‘Johnny come lately’ to the use of live webcam as part of its online qual platform. Fourteen months ago, Aha! became the world’s 1st integrated channel partner with Zoom. Not only the first research company to integrate Zoom but the first COMPANY in the world to build Zoom’s functionality into a proprietary standalone platform outside their own ecosystem. The point is, not all insight platforms using webcams or remote meeting technology are created equal. Here’s why…
For sometime we were considering getting into the live webcam space to augment our asynchronous methods but were wary of antiquated open source plug-in tools and did not want to build our own software to support the live methodology. Sometimes it is better to partner than to build.
We approached Zoom about the integration idea in early 2019. While we were heavy users of other webcam meeting technologies, our personal experiences with Zoom were smoother, more efficient and reliable than other live webcam-based software. Zoom liked the idea and we quickly struck a deal.
What does this mean?
For over a year now, our clients have had the ability to conduct live conversations with respondents to gain a deeper understanding of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that drive buying decisions and product usage. We have guided or conducted thousands of 1:1 and group interviews which allowed us to improve the processes and best-practices. Our team has the know-how to ensure a seamless experience for our clients and respondents. Our clients love it.
Our integration of Zoom is one-of-a-kind. Our engineers custom coded it into our platform and then created proprietary tools such as our own client backroom complete with many options to make the experience better than any backroom currently in the marketplace. We have also added custom self-schedulers, reminders, alerts, automated and live tech checks as well as a video clipper to help build highlight reels in support of your findings. The result is Aha! Live Conversations™, the most comprehensive live webcam experience built on the latest technology in the market research industry.
Is it secure?
Absolutely. When Zoom experienced explosive growth during the onset of Covid in March, there were some challenges. Some related to their own security and privacy practices, but most related to user error. Zoom bombing? Well, send 5,000 meeting invites to a group of people with the video and audio access set to “on” – what could possibly go wrong? Yep, as you noticed in some well-publicized cases, a lot. Zoom continuously beefs up their security and privacy practices to everyone’s benefit. Additionally, Aha! has enhanced its own infrastructure, security and privacy to ensure your data and PII is secure. And, relative to PII, user data is not shared with Zoom. No respondent, moderator or client’s email addresses are ever shared with Zoom – all of the PII on our platform is anonymized and sent to their cloud as a generic ID’s.
What are the best uses of Aha! Live Conversations™ ?
We’ve seen a major demand and migration from “only live” or “only asynchronous” studies to combined methodologies. Researchers who only did asynchronous studies are now adding webcam IDI’s or groups to their studies to go deeper with star respondents. Conversely, we have on-boarded many new clients who previously only wanted live webcam IDI’s or groups and were looking for the next great thing (Aha! LIve Conversations™), and then discovered the value of pre-group assignments, homework or multi-day engagements to supercharge their studies.
Six great approaches for incorporating our live webcam and mobile technology to augment your qualitative research:
Live IDIs: Asynchronous online studies followed by Live Webcam IDIs is a powerful hybrid combination of the asynchronous and live methodologies. If the budget allows, it is highly beneficial to select 8-10 of the star respondents from the asynchronous phase, then schedule deep-dive webcam interviews for 30-60 minutes. This allows you to cherry pick the most insightful respondents and discuss anything that may have come up in the study that you want to understand better. You can further explore insightful themes that may have emerged or simply get more context around the findings that you are planning to make the focal point of your report.
Stand-Alone Live Groups: While we initially launched Aha! Live Conversations as a 1:1 add-on to asynchronous activities, due to demand from key clients we swiftly adapted to hosting webcam sessions with 2-4 people regardless of whether there was an asynchronous component or not. Pre-work is still highly recommended — a simple 20-30 minute on-platform homework assignment before the sessions truly supercharges groups. Note, we also recommend keeping your sessions small-ish as we believe that more than 3-4 respondents in an online group is a bit more challenging due to time constraints and respondent distractions.
Mobile Missions: Live, face-to-face conversations allow researchers the opportunity to ride shotgun with their customers as they navigate decision-making processes in real-time at places where they live, work, play, and spend. For example, customers can be sent to the grocery to shop for cereal. When they get to the store, they simply initiate the video session and have a conversation describing what is in front of them and answer any guided and impromptu questions the researcher on the other end of the call may have. This is a much more efficient way to do a shop-along exercise, delivering in-the-moment insights at a fraction of the cost and time.
Concept Testing/Web-Usability: Live, recorded interactions with respondents as they look at ideas or websites allows researchers to get a deeper level of understanding regarding their in-the-moment thoughts, feelings, and actions as they are exposed to new ideas. The beauty of this live approach is that respondents can narrate their thoughts and feelings and give the researcher the opportunity to probe along the way, asking questions as the respondent navigates the concept or website. While asynchronous approaches are great, this live, shared discussion gives greater freedom and creativity to the researcher resulting in more robust insight into the mind of the respondent.
Digital In-Home Ethnography: In-home ethnographies have come a long way since researchers had to visit a respondent’s home in a staged and somewhat artificial environment (think moderator, videographer and 2-3 clients descending upon a respondent’s home). Digital Ethnographies are very popular these days. By adding the live element of a shared video chat, you can get real-time usage feedback in an up-close and personal way. Often aided by a selfie-stick, respondents give tours of their homes, showing areas and items that are relevant to the study topic. They demonstrate behaviors, share thoughts and feelings and give us much of what we’d get in a live, in-person ethnographic interview. Client teams can observe everything that happens, just like in an in-person ethnographic interview, without the intrusion of a team following the respondent around.
Customer Experience Studies: Live webcam has become a highly effective tool for corporate researchers and marketers to get closer to the customers with whom they are creating long-term relationships. In longitudinal CX studies respondents make quant and qual contributions along with journaling and diary entries to give deep insights into their journey. There is nothing more personal than jumping on a live webcam video call and connecting with people face-to-face. This F2F interaction builds real empathy towards consumers and gives the insights team (and other employees) an opportunity to explore more freely through a legitimate friendship built over the course of time. Aha! Live Conversations™ has the functionality that allows spontaneous live text chat with respondents to catch up or schedule a live session.
These examples are just a few ways of how you can use Aha! Live Conversations™ and/or other features to deliver amazing insights beyond your expectations.
The Aha! Team is always available to help you architect your next great study.
Let’s talk. Reach out to me at 313-312-0014 or email me here.