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Most Valued Features and Functions

When customers go to your website what features and functions would you guess they value most? Results from a recent AtHeath study titled, Market Research Customer and Prospect Requirements (N=253 purchasers of market research) sheds light on this question. Moreover, the answer to the question might surprise you. If you guessed free content and/or access to blogs, you would be wrong!

Access to blogs and other regularly updated content, such as “Ask-the-Analyst” or no cost downloads are not the features valued most. That is not to say people don’t value them and that content is unimportant. However, what people really care about are:

  • Accurate Information
  • Ease of Navigation
  • Robust Search Capabilities (what a surprise this must be to Google)

Yes the basics. Once you have worked on getting these items right, you can add:

  • Details on Report Content
  • Pricing Information
  • Access to Content Purchased

Once you have accomplished all the items on these two short lists you can play with no cost content, blogs, and ask-the-expert features. As you can see from the percentages in Table 1, accurate information was not only among the top three items it topped the list by a good healthy margin. If content is “King” accurate information is the Emperor. There are few things more destructive to a business relationship than errors. Making sure the information you provide your customers and prospects is well researched and has been reviewed is, as the car company says, “Job One” (quality control measures are critical).

Table 1: Website Features and Functions Customers Value Most

Percent of Responses by Features and Functions

Top Three

52.2 % Accurate information

39.5 % Easy navigation

35.2 % Robust search capabilities

Tier Two

27.3 % Details on report content

26.5 % Pricing information

26.1 % Access to content already purchased

Tier Three

20.2 % Free content

19.0 % Purchase reports online

17.4 % Who to call for information

16.6 % Access to blogs & other content

10.7 % Ask the Analyst

0.8 % Other

Why am I telling you this? Simply because we all are caught-up in trying to impress our website users with the newest stuff available and in the process we can lose our way.

Consider the results provided in this article as a simple “gut check.” Make sure you are covering the basics very well before you worry about the nice to have items.

Oh and, this is not only true for websites it is true for all aspects of business and certainly for conducting market research. Until you achieve basic milestones, such as “developing and refining project objectives” no “fancy stuff” really matters.

One Last Look

Here is one last piece of information. We asked our respondents this open-ended question, “What feature or function that you value the most do you recall seeing on any market research firm’s Website?”

1. Please describe briefly the feature or function

2. Please also tell us the name of the firm

Five themes emerged and three of the five mentioned were similar to the answers given in the closed-ended data. However, the order was different and there were two sets of responses that did not receive very much attention in the closed-ended answers.

Table 2: Open-ended Responses to Feature or Function Value Most

Number of Mentions by Open-ended Response

29 Ease of Use or Navigation

25 Robust Search Capabilities

14 Free Content

11 White Papers

10 Accurate Information

Of course, large analyst firms were mentioned most often, Gartner, Forrester, and IDC, respectively.. However, I will include a few other firms that had some interesting open-end responses. Keep in mind the open-ended data are qualitative and should be interpreted as such – directional at best.

Note that accuracy does not top the list of open-ended responses. This is probably because it is expected and was already communicated clearly in the close-ended responses. Free content and I will include white papers while mentioned at a high rate, together only match the number of mentions for either ease of use and navigation or search capabilities.

Gartner seems to be well liked for its white papers. Except for Maritz   Research , which had one mention regarding white  papers , Gartner cornered all the other white paper mentions. Gartner also appears to be well liked for its search and navigation capabilities and received a few open-ended comments praising the accuracy of the information.

Forrester seemed to score well regarding search capabilities and the ease of using them. A few people mentioned they liked the access to information and ease of downloading content as a plus. There were also some interesting comments about Forrester’s trend analysis capabilities.

IDC had fewer comments to analyze than the other two firms did. However, there were a number of related comments about quality of the data and information provided as well as comments on the detail provided and how up-to-date IDC keeps the information.

J.D. Powers appears to be very good at providing tools that make query and navigation easier and highly useful. Nielsen users seemed impressed with the customization and detail that Nielsen provides. Numerous (nearly 200) other firms were mentioned, but they had too few open-ended responses to report.

Summary

The services you provide, the content you have available, and how well your company stacks up against the competition are all lost, if users have difficulty navigating your site. Of course, this study focused on market research and analyst firms. However, the lessons probably apply more widely. Perhaps it is time for a website audit.

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