How to Report on Customer Participation

A headshot of Chad Neufeld

by Chad Neufeld

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If you are here, on this joyfully colorful website, it probably means that you believe in the power of customer participation. You know that involving your crowd in innovation means you can make informed decisions about product development, improve customer experiences, and create authentic marketing content.

But just because you believe in it, does not necessarily mean key stakeholders in your organization do too. That is one of the reasons that reporting on customer participation is critical.

In this article, we will identify the pieces that make up a valuable customer participation report, and we will show you how you can utilize our Participation Platform to build that report. 

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Know Your Goals

Our platform makes it incredibly easy to analyze the activity in a co-creative community, but analysis and reporting are pointless without a clear innovation goal, or set of objectives. At the outset of every engagement, we work with our clients to identify their goals, and the key performance indicators (KPIs) they use to measure progress towards those goals, and then we build programs of activities and Challenges to address those goals. Our platform has built-in reporting capabilities that allow clients to keep a close eye on their community, and we also offer detailed reporting services.

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As is the case for most major projects, ROI is top of mind for many clients. If the goal of the community is to create two new products each year, ROI can be measured by factoring in the costs the organization pays for the customer participation platform and comparing those to the sales revenues of the products that come out of the community. Additionally, co-creative communities serve to reduce R&D costs, reduce marketing investment, and increase brand loyalty, so it is important to factor these variables into your ROI calculation.

Related Read: The ROI of Customer Participation & Co-Creation

In addition to goals like a certain number of new products launched or an ideal amount of fan-created marketing content published across other channels, many brands set goals focussed on overall community health.

Community health is something that should be measured for every co-creative program, but generally it relates to the ongoing activity and participation of community members, and how this grows over time. This might mean that a brand’s goal is to be a weekly source of interesting content and “have your say” activities, such as polls and other quick questions, for their most valuable customers, and the KPI they use to measure their progress is the number of logins and participation rates of those activities each week.

Once you have defined your goals, a report should equip readers with the context necessary to understand the findings of the report.

Provide Context

Every report on customer participation should include a section that outlines the things that happened in and around the community during the reporting period in question. Maybe the brand was very focussed on recruitment across their other channels and community membership was way up over the period before. Maybe the community is seasonal, with a higher number of logins and contributions in the winter months when people spend more time indoors, and vice versa in the summer. Make sure you take the time to set the context for the statistics and recommendations.

Deliver an Executive Summary

Although every one of us hopes our entire report will be reviewed by senior executives, this is not always the case. CEOs, CMOs, CXOs, CIOs, and many VPs and senior managers require the information you are delivering, but want it in a condensed format. That is why it is important to include an executive summary that can be quickly reviewed and split off to be sent on its own.

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Construct your executive summary in such a way that it highlights, at a glance, the most important KPIs related to your top customer participation goals. If the main goal of the community is to develop new products, your summary should include numbers related to the results of a innovation Challenge, such as ideas generated, winning ideas and any new products being developed as a result of previous crowd innovation programs.

Don't Miss Member Trends

Your community members are your greatest resource. They are the ones who provide their feedback, insights and ideas. This whole thing is about them. So analyzing member trends and reporting on them is particularly important.

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Your member section should start with member and community health KPIs, like the number of logins per user, and the percentage of members who actively participate in the community, versus individuals who log in, but do not otherwise contribute (we call these folks ‘lurkers’).

These behavioral stats speak to the activities in the community, your communications plan, the relevancy of the brand to members, and more. It is also important to note what types of activities, including Challenges and discussions, your most active users are participating in the most.

Speaking of Trends: Trends Shaping the Future of Innovation

In addition to analyzing member behavior in the community, it is important to understand the channels that are bringing people to the community. Ongoing community recruitment is a task that brands play an active role in, and assessing traffic sources allows you to compare different recruitment efforts to one another.

In the case that your community is open to the public, you might choose to review whether paid media or organic social content drove the highest number of signups, which specific social channels performed the best, and what percentage of signups are driven by email invites to customer lists. For both open and closed communities, it is important to look at demographics and psychographics to understand what type of recruitment channels and messages work for your various user groups.

Focus on Activity and Challenge Results

After pulling out high-level member trends, your next section should focus on the results of activities and Challenges. Every reporting period should have a program (or programs) dedicated to specific business goals, and it is through a strategic program of activities and Challenges that brands can work to achieve these goals. This makes submissions, votes, comments, and feedback on activities and Challenges extremely important.

Read More: How to Manage Your Community to Get Better Results

In this section, start with topical, general numbers (ie. the number of submissions, number of votes, comments contributed, etc.) and then get more specific about Challenge submissions and winners and activities that generated the highest engagement, as well as those that did not fare as well. We like to break each Challenge out as its own set of slides within the report, analyzing the community’s response to the Challenge, recruitment related to the Challenge, votes, and winners. Our platform makes it extremely simple to report on Challenges and activities as a whole, as well as each one individually.

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Quality of ideas can be reported on by analyzing scorecard results from expert reviews, and this is an important KPI for management. It is key to show that the community is able to produce a high quality of ideas, not just a large number of ideas. Our scorecard tool helps make reviews more objective by asking experts to score ideas on multiple criteria, like feasibility. You can then report on the ideas that scored highest in certain criteria, finding ideas that might be the most feasible or most creative, for example, even if they were not overall Challenge winners.

You can also choose to report on the number of ideas produced during a specific time period, showcasing the community’s power to solve problems quickly.

Get to the Good Stuff: Insights

The goal of every report is not analysis for analysis sake, but analysis for insight’s sake. What interesting truth can be pulled out of the numbers? What piece of wisdom can lead to an organizational breakthrough? The path to insights is not always a straight one, but generally what you are looking for are interesting combinations of information and observation, as well as disconnections: occasions when what you expect to happen does not happen.

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An example, you say? No problem, we have got two for you.

  1. If you launch a Challenge that is similar to a very successful one from the quarter before and the new Challenge flops, it is likely that there is an insight you can work out. Did some key community members participate last time, but not this time, and the Challenge was missing these critical influencers to drive community engagement?
  2. A number of discussions in an open forum have centred around a particular product, and community members have mentioned uses for the product that fall outside the intended use cases that you know of. Have community members uncovered a new application for the product that you can use in marketing and sales? Perhaps they have uncovered a need that is better served by a different product of yours, and opened the door for product education? Or maybe they’ve brought up a need that isn’t quite addressed through your current product lineup.

Lay Out Recommendations

Insights and recommendations come hand-in-hand. In the first example above, you might have figured out that a few key individuals drive a significant amount of participation among community members. Your recommendation should include a list of the key influencers, and a plan to entice them to participate in future Challenges. In the case of the second example, your recommendation could include launching a Creative Challenge program to co-create a new product, which is a great way to leverage the collective intelligence in your community and generate strong demand way before the crowdsourced product even hits the shelves.

It might make sense to lay out insights in one section and recommendations in the next, or you might find it more effective to pair each insight with a corresponding recommendation.

It is important to circle back to your goals when you are developing insights and recommendations. This will help guide you as you review the data that you have pulled from the system.

Use Our Intuitive Tools to Pull Everything Together

Our platform allows you to see, at a glance, how healthy your community is for any desired time period and co-creative program.

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And a long list of pre-built reports let you dig into key information. The screen below only includes a portion of them.

Prebuilt reports.

You can also look at individual activities and Challenges and drill down deeper into beautiful screens displaying detailed results.

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All of the data you need to build the perfect report which measures the success of your collaborative innovation and co-creative efforts is readily available at your fingertips. Focus on your goals, build programs around them, and establish KPIs that are most important to yourself (and your team members reviewing the reports), then follow the structure above to produce a valuable report that is bound to earn you gold stars.

As long as your destination is clear, the powerful analytics available in our platform are sure to provide you with the information and ideas you need to make better decisions. The ones which will help carve out and color in your company’s path to smarter innovation and boundless creativity.

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