Thursday, September 27, 2012

Guest Blogger: Dave Marsh of Directional Insights Shares His Experiences Using BlogNog for Online Qualitative Research Studies

As someone who has spent the last 18 years managing, conducting or supplying both qualitative and quantitative primary marketing research, I’ve seen a lot of “new & improved” tools and methodologies come and go. However, in recent years I believe that a new wave of online qualitative tools has truly emerged and BlogNog is a proven leader among them.

BlogNog offers what I would refer to as the “Trifecta” to the dreaded “Project Management Triangle.” If you’ve ever heard the expression that “you can have it fast, cheap, and good, now pick any two?” then you understand the constraints of what we are often confronted with when conducting qualitative research, let alone any type of project. BlogNog is a solution that I believe makes it possible to have all three and that’s why I refer to it as the “Trifecta” in addressing all three of these constraints. In other words, when it comes to designing an approach for conducting qualitative research, the constraints of time, cost and quality are non-issues because with BlogNog you can have all three!

Recently, we conducted a client project where we needed to put together a customer panel of early adopters who were spread across 5 different geographical regions and we needed to track their product experiences and interactions over a 3 month period. Now, back in the day (also known as B.B. – which stands for “Before BlogNog”) we would have had to travel to these 5 regions on a semi-regular basis, convene in-person interviews either at a traditional focus group location (away from where they use this product in-home) and/or conduct a series of in-home ethnography observations and interviews (can you say awkward & semi-artificial) and have our panel members keep a journal/diary to record their experiences and then take time to review and analyze all of the observations and their journal entries, and then “rinse and repeat!” Can you imagine the cost and time this would take? I can, because I’ve been there and in this case you pay for the “quality” with both dollars and time.

With BlogNog we were able to address all three of these attributes, cost, quality and time to accomplish all of the above, and then some! BlogNog enabled the customer panel members to share their product experiences and interactions when they happened, where they happened all at their own convenience. Panel members were able to respond to various discussion topics and questions over the course of 3 months, along with recording their own thoughts and opinions along the way. The client didn’t have to wait for feedback or insights, they could log-on and observe real customer experiences at any point in time during the project. Talk about having instant access to the voice of the customer.

With the utilization of BlogNog, both cost and time became non-issues and you want to talk about quality? Let’s just say that the depth of insights that were provided by individual customer panel members, you would have had to conduct at a minimum 60 to 75 hours of in-depth interviews to even come close to what we accomplished at a fraction of the cost. Neither travel costs nor the cost of time to conduct these on an individual basis were issues and the depth and quality of insights I believe were better than what we could have ever hoped for if we had attempted to do this in-person.

To add icing to the cake, BlogNog also incorporates a variety research tools that you would use in traditional in-person research. These tools can easily be applied on-line and without putting the pressures or limitations around time constraints for respondents, as you would in-person, which equates to added depth and quality of insights. For this particular project described above, we were able to incorporate exercise’s involving heat-mapping and story-telling through the use of image banks in order for respondents to convey their product experiences. As you can imagine, these exercises combined with the ability for respondents to add narratives without any time constraints only added to the depth of insights.

As a marketing professional and research practitioner, I always say that “in-person” has its place and time, but the more we use BlogNog for client projects, the more I question this statement. As a matter of fact, for any qualitative client project that we do, we challenge ourselves by asking why not BlogNog? I would challenge you to do the same. Next time you’re considering a qualitative approach, ask your-self, your colleagues, even your client . . . why can’t we use BlogNog? You’ll be surprised at the answers.

As I mentioned earlier, in recent years a lot of emerging on-line qualitative tools and approaches have their merits and I’ve found BlogNog to be one of the leaders in online qualitative offerings. BlogNog addresses the 3 project constraints (time, cost & quality) that we all face when conducting qualitative research projects. When you can address these three areas up front, then your path to achieving your qualitative project objectives becomes increasingly efficient and focused.

One more thing, hats off and much appreciation to the BlogNog team. They were very responsive and great to collaborate with throughout all of our various project needs. I look forward to utilizing BlogNog in many more future qualitative projects.