Customer Insights

5 ways to improve the ROI of your Insights

Ray Poynter
July 28, 2021
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Once you start to measure the ROI of your insights (see How to measure the ROI of Insights), you will very quickly want to improve your ROI results. In this post, I suggest five tips for things that I have found to increase the value of insights.

The basic ROI equation is very simple. We take two quantities; the value we have generated and what the insights cost. We divide the benefits by the costs and the result is the ROI.  

This means there are three ways to increase the ROI of insights:

  1. Increase the value generated
  1. Reduce the costs
  1. Increase the value AND reduce the costs

The tips in this post relate to these three options.

1) Increase value by understanding the problem better

Before designing a research project, ensure you understand what decision(s) the organization needs to make. Tailor your research so that it will provide the sorts of outputs your decision makers need. Understanding what is needed can also reduce costs, because you focus on what is needed, and do not spend time and money on asking ‘the usual questions’.

2) Increase value by facilitating agile / iterative approaches

If you conduct a single big research project, the probability of it being exactly what is needed is low. By doing ‘less research more often’, you can enable the team using the research to be agile. Encourage them to use what Eric Ries (in his book The Lean Startup) calls the ‘Build – Measure – Learn’ approach.

3) Increase value by building on previous research/knowledge

Instead of thinking of each piece of research in isolation, think of it as part of a lattice of knowledge. Each new project should add something to the network of knowledge, and it should be enhanced by what is already known. Design every piece of research to leverage what is already known, and by making sure it enhances the totality of what is known. This approach will both reduce costs and increase value.

4) Increase value by advocating for your insights

If you conduct research and simply hand it over, there is a real risk that its benefits will not be fully recognized. Nobody understands your research as well as you do. Nobody believes in your recommendations as much as you do. Rather than just hand insights over, sell them, campaign for them, show other people how to use them to generate value.

5) Reduce costs by matching research designs to the value likely to be created

If your stakeholder comes to you with a big problem that could generate substantial benefits for the organization, you have the option to utilize more resources. But, if a stakeholder comes to you with a question that is interesting, but is unlikely to generate value, either decline the project, or look for a simple approximation to the answer. This means running insights in a strategic way, not operating like a taxi rank where the next customer is given the same range of options and is dealt with first, just because they asked first.

Bonus Tip - Why are communities such a great tool for generating ROI?

In a recent Potentiate Webinar [see here], Ysaline Lannoy (responsible for Consumer & Shopper Insights at Nestlé) highlighted how insights at Nestlé are generating ROI with their community. They use a startup mentality, they offer their clients a fixed-price, all-you-can-eat menu (there is no extra cost for doing extra projects), and they have developed fast turnaround solutions that provide answers in 4 to 5 days. They measure the satisfaction with their services and reports, but most importantly, they measure the impact of their community on strategies – their most recent figure showed they were hitting a commendable 4 out 5, in the opinion of their internal clients.

Unlike most research approaches, the more you use a community the cheaper it gets, in terms of insights generated. By allowing colleagues to leverage DIY options, by creating standardized projects, and by doing ‘less research more often’, you can increase the ROI of insights, and ensure insights play a bigger role in your organization.

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