How Many Members (Customers) Should Be in an Insight Community?

The best customer-focused companies today are interested in generating more value for their customers by gaining a better understanding of their interests, needs, and desires. They do this by creating an Insight Community, also known as a Market Research Online Community (MROC) – a way of interacting with their customers and getting feedback through a number of tools including surveys, forums, polls, collages, and home use tests to name just a few. It’s a highly-effective way of improving your understanding of your customers and bringing to market products and solutions they want to buy. The first step in this process is creating your member (customer) community.

How Many Members Should be in a Community?

When it comes to the question of how many members should make up a Market Research Online Community, is it “bigger is better” or “less is more?” One of the first questions that many of our clients and prospective clients want to know is how many customers need to be in their online insight community in order to get actionable data that can drive internal decisions. And, of course, the best, most accurate answer that we can give is, it depends.

Communities have historically consisted of 500-600 but now market research online communities typically contain around 500 -2,000 members. In fact, depending on the scale of research conducted, communities size can range to hundreds of thousands of members. The 500-2,000 -member range generally leads to a good number of responses while maintaining an environment in which the customer feels valued

The factors determining how many members you should have in your MROC

The next consideration when trying to determine the number of members you should have in your Insight Community is the purpose of the information and how you’re going to use it. If you’re looking for data that is going to play a large role in larger decisions within your organization, you may want to increase the community size. However, if your goal is to get information that will be directional, you may want to move to the smaller end of our range.

Another impact on the size of your insight community is how common your target group is. Sometimes a group of members is more challenging to find and recruit to participate. In these cases, the choice might be to maintain a lower number of members but put more emphasis on engagement and incentives in order to maximize participation per member.

Finally, budget can also play a role. More responses, more segments, more reports, and more incentives can mean a larger investment

Response rates and level of engagement affect how many members you need in your MROC

Keep in mind that even among qualified participants, response rates on an individual activity can often vary between 25-60%, on average (although some can get as high as 90% depending on the overall structure of the community and the specific incentives.) The size of your online insight community has to reflect not just a total number of participants, but those that are actively participating on a regular basis. If you’re not maintaining communication with the members in your online community, you’ll have less engaged members and fewer active participants. Be sure that you’re reaching everyone consistently with a welcome email when they join and providing plenty of opportunities for them to provide their feedback through a variety of activities such as surveys, polls, discussions, journal activities, home use tests, and online chats.  It also helps member engagement to provide recognition of their contributions through gamification (points, badges, etc.), and by providing feedback to these members on how their opinions are helping the company.

The “right” number of members you should have in your MROC is subjective

Ultimately, there is not a precise right or wrong answer to “how many members should be in my MROC?” While data is objective, the right amount of data that you have to have can be subjective.

When you partner with the right customer insight company, you’ll be guided through the process of determining how many members are right for you based on your objectives, comfort with various response levels, importance of segments, and, to some degree, budget.

My-Take is a greater Boston based insight and marketing technology company that helps companies make smarter decisions and market more effectively through powerful online communities and panels. If you have questions about how many members should be in your Market Research Online Community, or if you have general questions about online insight communities and how they can help your company deliver more value to your customers, click here for a free consultation.

Posted by Todd Hoskins

Partnered with Rich Armstrong to form My-Take in 2010 to focus on creating a more integrated and immediate platform and service to help organizations succeed in the marketplace through more customer informed decision making.