Strategies for Using Customer Videos in Market Research

Madeline Jacobson Written by Madeline Jacobson

Thanks to increasingly high-quality cameras built into smartphones and computers, it’s never been easier for market researchers to get videos of their customers. The challenge now isn’t recording videos: it’s figuring out what to do with them.

Many researchers are now tasked with pulling insights from hours and hours of raw customer video footage so that they can present a compelling story to their company’s decision-makers. And too often, the sheer volume of video causes researchers to treat each clip of their customers with a one-and-done mentality, rather than revisiting the footage when new research questions emerge.

What’s a busy insights professional to do when there are endless opportunities for using customer videos and only so many hours in the day?

Let’s take a look at a few of the types of customer videos that can be most beneficial along with strategies to pinpoint the most valuable insights in your video footage.

Focus Group Videos

Since more than 86 percent of U.S. households have a computer, many market researchers now conduct webcam-based online focus groups as a convenient alternative to in-person focus groups. While a recent study found that the cost savings of virtual focus groups were minimal, one major advantage over in-person groups is that participants don’t have to travel. This also means that you and your team can pull from a pool of much more geographically diverse participants.

Recording webcam videos of focus group participants allows you to see verbal and non-verbal reactions even when you can’t be in the same room as your participants. It also makes it easy to review participants’ feedback and reactions after the focus group is over.

If you decide to conduct in-person focus groups, you can still benefit from recording videos that capture every participant as they contribute and react. One strategy that’s becoming increasingly popular with researchers involves using a 360-degree voice-activated camera that’s triggered by the voice of the person who is speaking. This set-up allows you to record all participants in a single stream of video. As a result, there’s much less footage to review than if you’d set up multiple cameras at different angles, and the footage is much easier to edit for use in presentations.

In-Home Videos

It’s not just formal focus groups or interviews that can yield customer insights: researchers are increasingly finding value in having their customers record videos on their smartphones in the comfort of their own homes.

One reason many researchers encourage customers to record smartphone videos is to get more information from open-ended survey questions. It’s becoming relatively common to complete surveys on a mobile device (a SurveyMonkey study found that between 13 and 21 percent of all their survey completions come from mobile), and it’s inconvenient for participants to type out long answers on their phones. It’s a lot easier to just hit record and talk through their response.

In addition to decreasing friction for your customers, video responses can give you more content to work with: on average, videos contain four times as much information as open-ended text responses.

Just remember: if you decide to have a group of customers record videos at home, give them clear instructions. Insights vendor Lightspeed Research found that 83 percent of videos they received from customers who had received clear instructions were good, compared to just 63 percent of videos from customers who hadn’t received instructions.

Explain to your customers how you want them to hold their phone or adjust their webcam so that they’re in-frame, provide tips for good lighting, and make sure they’re recording somewhere with limited background noise. Reducing background noise is especially important if you plan to use a platform that will automatically transcribe your videos, as less noise will result in greater accuracy.

Making Sense of Raw Videos in a Searchable Platform

Once you start collecting customer videos, it’s important to upload them to a centralized, searchable platform so that you, your team, and your stakeholders can find them when you need them. Ideally, you should use an insights platform that automatically transcribes videos so that anyone can go into the platform, search for a specific keyword, and jump to the exact points in relevant videos where that keyword is spoken. This lets you and your team identify trends and develop insights without having to comb through hours of unedited footage.

When your video content is searchable, it’s much easier to revisit footage and discover new insights that you might have missed otherwise. Your customers are likely discussing many different topics when participating in a focus group, interview, or survey, but it’s far too common to focus on pulling only the information that answers your current research question. Bringing your customer videos into an insights platform helps you and your team get more value out of the content you already have.  

Being able to search through videos also makes it easy to pull together powerful highlights when presenting a report to stakeholders. For example, you might create a short montage of several customers talking about a shared pain point that led them to your product and use that video to support new insights into product positioning.

Taking the most compelling moments from your customer videos and using them to tell a story is an effective way to make your presentation stick with your company’s decision-makers. As research strategist John Whittle notes in an article for Quirk’s, “Internal stakeholders love videos. Videos allow you to bring customers into the boardroom, putting a face to a persona.”

Videos make the information you’re sharing more personal for your stakeholders: you’re not just sharing statistics and trends, you’re sharing input from real customers.

Make sure your stakeholders have access to the platform where you’re storing your customer videos so that they can revisit them and dig deeper, if necessary, after your presentation. When your customer videos are easily accessible and searchable, they become a powerful tool for influencing the decisions that drive the customer experience.

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