I always say, I really have no business being in this business. But I think it accounts for the magic of what we’ve created.
We’re not your average insights research company. And, frankly, we never set out to be. In fact, Swytchback comes from a merchandising background and that’s one of the things that makes us so unique and effective.
Connecting People and Selling Product: Wishlists
In our first life, we had started a company that was basically shared wishlists. One of the reasons why people give gift cards is because they don’t know what to actually give to people.
We were working with 150 retailers on an affiliate basis as a merchandising service. We really brought the service up as a way to connect people and to sell product.
It was beautiful. People loved to connect; loved to share wishlists. We could connect people so that they would know exactly what they wanted. But we found that our users were hugely over indexed not just to Amazon shoppers, but to Amazon Prime shoppers.
And what happened in this typical Silicon Valley “Ant meets Boot” moment was that Amazon brought out their own wishlist service. And while it wasn’t nearly as interesting and fun to work with, it was on Amazon and, functionally, it did everything that needed to be done.
We’re the Ant. Amazon’s the Boot. They didn’t even know they were stepping on us.
Data Behind the Scenes
We had to take stock and decide what to do. We had created this beautiful mobile platform to sell products and connect people and we were left with a beautifully visual user experience.
What are we going to do with this?
Some of our retail partners pointed out that we were actually amassing really interesting consumer preference data behind the scenes. They asked us if we had thought about turning ourselves into an active data collection tool.
My co-founder Cole (Patterson) and I asked ourselves, Could we actively go out and collect that data? Could we use it to help clients to create better, more accurate products and services?
We decided this might be our chance to shine.
Let’s give it a whirl.
Pivot to Insight Industry
We sat down with our CTO (Blaine Nye) and said, Look, here’s what we want to do. We want to rebuild with the idea of becoming a consumer insights platform.
We were an app. We needed to be a mobile service that felt like an app.
And so we pivoted.
We Had Something
Coming out of this massive pivot, we created a very early stage mobile version of what we call hit or miss, swipe left swipe right, do you like something or not, prototype.
We did it as a project for Pringles.
They were testing concepts for their Superbowl commercial. Their crunch stack commercial, for those of you who are Pringles fans. Their agency had come up with 33 concepts and done a ton of focus group work. They said, we spent a lot of money and we think we know the order of it but we’d like to use you guys basically to just check our work.
We took those concepts out to panel and sure enough, we lined up almost exactly with the agency results.
At that point, we knew we had something.
Mobile First, Design First, Experience First
As we came into this industry, we said we really want to be design first, experience first. We always took it as a core principle. We want people to be highly engaged.
Given the way that the world has turned, we also wanedt to be purpose built for mobile, so we could intercept people on their phone, living their everyday life. Traditional web-based interfaces were a secondary goal (achieved).
The truth is people just don’t like to take surveys. They’re painful. They’re radio buttons. They’re text heavy. There’s a lot of cognitive load. The result is that typically online surveys get very low completion rates, low engagement, and the data quality is not as high as it could be.
With Swytchback, when a survey opportunity comes in, it’s like Tinder meets Survey Monkey.
You swipe left. You swipe right. It’s like skiing downhill where you don’t have to exert effort to get to the end. People are more engaged, paying attention, and having fun.
We didn’t know any better is the truth.
We want people to love taking our surveys.
Back End Data Systems
We came into an industry we knew absolutely nothing about, but at least we were smart enough to go out and get some advisors who came from the insights industry. They really helped us design the backend data systems collection tools, the logic that you have to have in the insights business.
Cole and Blaine created a sophisticated back end to sort the data correctly and output it correctly. This allows us to collect significant quantitative data and then process that data in a fast, highly visual way.
One of the first questions we are always asked is, On the front end, you’re fun and friendly and the respondents clearly love it. But really, can you have a respondent experience like that and still produce quality data?
We’re getting data from consumers. To the extent that you can reduce cognitive load on the respondent, you’re going to get this higher set of engagement and the data that comes out of it is going to be, as good or better than most.
We typically get 90, 95% completion rate. And even when we do really complicated segmentation surveys, we’re still getting 84, 85% completion rates.
So really that translates to lots of benefits. We’re able to get reliable data quicker and less expensively. Data that’s been benchmarked against Ipso studies and Qualtrics studies.
We had to prove that and over the course of time we’ve done it and our data is now used to make mission critical decisions.
We are meeting the benchmark that is established for the industry.
Insights from Outsiders
There are advantages to entering one industry from a completely different industry. We surpassed what other insight companies are still trying to achieve, largely because of our engagement-first perspective.
And out of that came Swytchback.
Bruce Bower CEO of Swytchback sat down with Bill Cushard at Helping Sells Radio, for a candid conversation about building an insights company and the importance of visual surveys for marketing and insights professionals. Click here to hear more.