Vision Critical Proposal for Audible, Ben Robins - October 2016


Thank you

Dear Ben,

Thank you again for taking the time to learn more our current offering here at Vision Critical; Mark and I enjoyed our meeting and are incredibly keen to put our best foot forward in your review. This document aims to bring to life our proposal through some visual examples of our platform and offering. Mark and I also considered that it may be useful to create a document that contains a few videos and case studies that could be shared with wider Audible stakeholders.

Further to our café meeting this month, our understanding of some of your key business requirements are as follows:

  • Audible would like to create a small community of 400 - 500 members to provide ongoing robust feedback.
  • Audible are continually looking for ways to clearly identify the customer journey, what would take a member from being a Prime member to an Audible/Channels member (motivations, drivers, incentives).
  • Audible require a scalable platform providing the opportunity to grow both the number of subscribers and countries over a period of time.
  • UX - Providing a way for Audible to test and optimize Channels for their users, what aspects do they most like, what improvements would they like to see.
  • Improving the Audible Channels application (usability).
  • Understand subscription models/motivations i.e. members who pay for Audible Channels. Vision Critical have undertaken similar studies with organisations such as Spotify & Adobe.
  • Contact records - At present you have a number of people who are classed as 'anonymous' - how can you help ascertain who they are and start to build member profiles?
  • Audible would like to develop a Community that provides ongoing 'audience feedback' to help better identify and benchmark audio content that will work across major international markets and extend the Audible brand.
  • Have a two way dialogue with your audience providing a "you said, we did" approach.
  • Building an understanding of members' feedback on your original content producers.
  • Feedback on various features and benefits, such as Audible Playlists.

People Matter: Introducing YOUR Vision Critical Team, who will support your community

Introducing your Vision Critical Team

People Matter - Our Waterloo Office has a wealth of Research and Technology experience, supporting over 60 clients in the UK alone. With a strong team of 45 staff in we work closely with our clients on an ongoing basis to ensure they gain the maximum benefit from their community investment.

Audible Support Team - Introducing your team, managing the Community from planning, through to launch, and beyond:

Kirsty joined Vision Critical 18 months ago as a Client Service Manager with vast experience in community-driven insight. Today Kirsty closely supports our sales function to ensure that we are creating tailored community solutions that fully meet the needs of our clients. Her involvement creates a bridge between Sales and Services, to ensure the scoped solution is implemented effectively by client services team through to delivery.
Katie joined Vision Critical in 2008 and has worked with a number of key media, retail and consumer packaged goods clients in the UK, and as Client Service Director, leads the UK Client Success Team. Katie has a diverse background in both software and the creative arts, recently completing a certificate in Product Management, and having previously worked as a Curator for arts organizations in Canada and Australia. She holds a BA in Cultural Studies and an MA in Art History (Curatorial Studies) from the University of British Columbia.
Eric has 8 years of experience in Market Research, focusing on project and community management. Eric today works across our retail, financial, media and entertainment sectors, to help brands engage with their customers and expand their communities. Eric will be one of Audible's day to day contacts at Vision Critical and has already been briefed on your initial requirements.


Mutual Milestones

In order to get the Audible Community live there are several areas that we will need to review in depth, from building & branding through to recruitment and engagement. As suggested during our last meeting, as a next step, we would welcome the opportunity to run a 'mini workshop' at our Southwark offices to further scope the below.

Step 1 - The Vision Critical Design team will create a branded Audible Channels Community Portal, this portal will be hosted by Vision Critical on our infrastructure. Here community members will be able to log in and conduct various visual surveys, or join moderated discussions as outlined in this proposal.

Step 2 - Vision Critical will recruit into the community (originally from 1 market), our understanding is that this will be via Audible's proprietary CRM. As a further option, Vision Critical can look to work with our data partner, Bilendi, should any third-party 'Voice of Market' data be required (costs available upon request). Developing an ongoing recruitment plan is fundamental to ensuring the community remains both representative and thriving. Naturally over time you will experience churn in the community, we do however see an average of 40% response rates in communities where the engagement is varied and recruitment is well managed.

Step 3 - Vision Critical will send an email invite to select Audible customers asking them to conduct a short profiling questionnaire. We recommend not overburdening members during this initial recruitment phases, this process will help segment and distribute members within the community. As part of our Community Management program we will monitor this distribution on an ongoing basis.

Step 4 - Your Vision Critical team will manage the ongoing recruitment process working closely with the Audible team. We will monitor closely participation rates across your various segments and ensure that the community remains fully representative by developing a number of ongoing recruitment strategies. Further details of how this is generally achieved can be found in Section 3. During the initial phase we will open a community that allows up to 1,000 members (our entry tier). We would also recommend building the community size in a staggered number of phases throughout the course of the year.

Step 5 - Community Roadmap: One of the primary concerns you raised during our meeting was around the community fizzling out. That is something we will not let happen, and prior to launching any community, your Vision Critical team will work closely with Audible to create a Community Roadmap that outlines the first 3, 6, 9 & 12 months of our partnership.

Step 6 - Within our Sparq platform the Audible team will be able to conduct unlimited qualitative & quantitative research via a number of visually engaging tools such as Surveys, Discussions & Mobile Video capabilities found in Section 4. Should resource be an issue, your Vision Critical team can provide a full service engagement managing the entire research process from brief through to reporting.

Step 7 - Stakeholder Reporting:- As part of our Community Management Program we will work with the Audible team to create tailored stakeholder reports, including Community Stories, as outlined in Section 5. Our Sparq platform provides real-time reporting and can overlay data from any data source (such as the Audible CRM). One key USP is our 'Relationship Memory' capabilities, which can personalise questions based on a member's previous responses.

SECTION 2 - A QUICK NOTE ON OUR twitch relationship

Valued Existing Partnership

Vision Critical are incredibly proud to work with Twitch in North America. To join this community and test the member experience we can offer, please visit:

Our team work with the Market Research & Marketing departments at Twitch. The Twitch RPG (Research Power Group) community is currently open to membership registration in North America and the EU, and the team will be updating the community regularly as Twitch expand eligibility.

In exchange for taking surveys, members are entered into sweepstakes for Twitch prizes and have the opportunity to vote on new emotes. Through the Twitch RPG community, members are the first to learn about new features coming to Twitch.


Vision Critical - Community Management Program

Community Management

Audible's dedicated Customer Success team will manage the health of the community, follow best practices, and provide you with regular visibility into the relative health of your community. Your Customer Success team will also ensure that the community is well maintained and properly reflects the Audible brand promise to its subscribers. We will also work to reinforce best practices when it comes to member engagement. Your Customer Success team will hold monthly status meetings with you and provide monthly health snapshots, giving a high level view of participation rates, study completion rates, and best practice suggestions observed from the past month’s studies.

Some of the elements that we look at are the following. Each review sets clear goals for the upcoming period;

• Response rates – Our goal is to maintain 40-50% response rates.

• Community distribution – Does the current distribution of the Audible community meet the activity needs? Do we need to re-recruit members?

• Community size – Is the current size appropriate or is it leading to ineffective use of community members?

• Member expectations – Are members getting what they were promised?

• Profiling data – Does any profile data need updating?

The engagement strategy, community health, and day-to-day management of this key will be the sole responsibility of your dedicated Customer Success Team – a VP, Director and Manager. This dedicated team will develop a strategy during set-up and will ensure that best practices are followed, and keep the community healthy and engaged.

Vision Critical is in the business of understanding what motivators are necessary for ongoing community participation. We typically see overall engagement rates of 70-80% in our communities, with response rates to surveys averaging around 40-50% globally. This is clear proof that our philosophies and best practices work.

So how do we engage members? And how will this strengthen each member’s relationship with the Audible brand?

There are universal elements of engagement we recognize within our philosophy to ensure intimacy, regardless of the size of a community. But beyond that it’s about Audible customers having a voice within the organization. From the members' perspective, we invite them to be a SPECIAL ADVISOR to the brand.

Important elements of the engagement strategy:

  • Building transparent and authentic connections
  • Setting expectations for participation and amount of contact
  • Branding to heighten engagement
  • Rewarding members both extrinsically and intrinsically
  • Inviting members to relevant conversations
  • Share back and give members access to Audible's decision making process and challenges, in ways typically not shared in traditional Market Research;
  • Communicate in an open, straightforward and authentic way with members about the purpose of the community as well as individual projects
  • Introduce Audible team members and Vision Critical moderators as real people;
  • Interact directly when we run exploratory activities
  • Answer member’s questions directly as they arise
  • Profile and recognize members by posting quotes, photos and interesting ideas
  • Offer behind the scenes access and sneak peeks that are relevant to members

Engagement exercises we will utilize:

  • Branded Member Experience and Portal Hub: we will help to develop a specific, Audible Channels-branded member experience including a personalized member facing dashboard and experience. The portal will be updated regularly with relevant and up-to-date information.
  • E-Newsletters: we will assist Audible in publishing and deploying monthly or quarterly newsletters as a mechanism of feeding back information to members and closing the feedback loop. The content of the newsletter will be tailored and provided by Audible. We suggest you share high-level research findings, decisions that have been made based on the members insights, exclusive information or announcements.
  • Member of the Month: invite a specific member to answer a short list of specific questions that would be shared in the portal or newsletter.
  • Quarterly Persona Builder Studies: on a quarterly basis we will suggest that we deploy a survey activity to all members of the community on a specific lifestyle/behavioral topic such as media consumption, social media, shopping, family. This will be positioned to members as a “getting to know you better” type of activity and will give you the opportunity to more deeply understand members. You will receive an infographic that summarizes the findings to share with stakeholders.
  • Mini Monthlies: Surveys that have nothing to do with research and everything to do with fostering a sense of community and membership. We invite members to conduct studies that may be topical or seasonal in nature. As an example, summer festivals and vacations. These serve as great input for those newsletters where you may not have feedback that can be shared on some of the market research that was done in that time period. Your CS team will deploy these on your behalf, with your permission.
  • Member Satisfaction Study: on a bi-annual basis we will encourage a satisfaction study be sent to members to get their feedback on their experience of being a member, what they like, don’t like, and what can be improved. We will provide a templated study as we benchmark the scores against our 750+ other programs. We will then discuss feedback and make improvements where necessary.


The proof is in the pudding! Our team have put together a couple of tailored videos to give you a good feel of both the member experience and our Sparq platform.

Vision Critical's Developed Enterprise Technology


Our approach is designed to help companies get to know the people behind the data. And the stories behind those people. To provide the insight you need to feel confident in making major decisions. And to do it on a platform that can scale. That is secure. That is engaging for you and your customers.
Private Customer Communities: With Sparq, you can engage your customers in a private, secure online community to test and share ideas and the progressive profiling capabilities of the platform allow you to get to know your customers.
Our Member Engagement capabilities and experiences enable administrators and members to interact in exciting new ways, regardless of the device they’re using. With our new mobile app, Engage by Vision Critical, you can quickly engage with your community when it matters most. The app supports iBeacon and geolocation technology, allowing you to connect with community members based on their location and unlocks opportunities to get in-the-moment feedback from your customers when the activity is most relevant to them.
Drawing on our 15 years of proven experience in marketing research, the tools and templates in the Sparq platform are now infused with industry-leading best practices designed to help you get a fuller, deeper understanding of your customers. The new capabilities help to streamline processes and make it easier for you to search, analyze, create, and share comprehensive stories about the insights you generate with your community.
We know that keeping proprietary data safe and maintaining customer privacy is important to you. Vision Critical completes annual independent audits receiving SOC2 reports and implement comprehensive security mechanisms, so you can feel confident in knowing that your organization’s data and your customers’ personal information are always protected with our industry standard, enterprise-grade software. Our cloud based software gives you the scale and flexibility required to support ongoing, global insight and delivers automatic updates that ensure the platform is always up to date. Compliant and secure: You can feel confident knowing that your organization’s data and your customers’ personal information are always protected with our industry standard, enterprise-grade software.


Activity Creation –Intuitive authoring experience designed for easier and faster community engagement, easy to use interface that makes creating studies fast and effective.
Quickly add question text with question routing and weighting capabilities. Vision Critical offers a number of visual question types, you are able to adapt and change the layout of your questions and the format of your survey with ease.


During the setup process Vision Critical will create a number of survey skins that match the overall look and feel of your community environment. Our clients are able to make changes and adapt the look and feel of superficial design aspects of the survey directly. As a next step during a live demonstration we would be happy to walk you through this process.


Vision Critical providing powerful segmentation tools that allow you to quickly select members to participate in various research activities. Selection of members can be based on profile data or historical responses.



Example of a Text Based Discussion Forum

The community will also support discussion forums for more qualitative, exploratory exercises. These can be targeted at members with a particular profile, or at those who responded to a survey in a particular way. Structured forums normally run for a short period of time (typically one week; focused on answering a specific business need); and involve between 25 and 50 unique posters. Tasks can include communications / product feedback, storytelling, uploading photos or responding to streamed media such as advertising.

  • Members can either talk directly to the moderator marking the post as private or can talk to each other
  • Members are able to create there own threads/posts or Audible can replace a restriction on allowing members to do so.
  • Members can 'agree' or 'disagree' (you can remove disagree to keep harmony :))
  • Video and Images can be directly uploaded into the Discussion forum by either the moderator or the members at any time.


Vision Critical have a number of clients who use the community to obtain video uploads from members including video diary's. A few examples of how this has been executed is as follows;

- International Sports Merchandiser: Asked consumers to upload a video of their weekly fitness routine, (day in the life) of Millennial customers to help gain insight on product insight for developing wearable technology. Members were provided an area through VC discussions to privately submit videos on a daily basis over the course of a week.

- CPG Customers: Internationally we have examples of clients who will send products (such as cosmetics) directly to customers, asking them to test the products and upload videos of their usage/consumption. Through our Sparq platform members are asked to complete short form surveys, participate in online discussions to provide ongoing feedback to organisations around these products through daily usage.

Password: VisionCritical2016

Vision Critical have a number of clients that use Video in their surveys and ask participants to upload video's. In the example above a Cosmetics Brand, segmented a target audience of their younger generation and asked them to upload a video of 'what is in your makeup bag'. These video diaries can be uploaded into a survey question, or you can create a 'Discussion Area' where members can privately upload videos. This can be a one off member upload or as part of a successive diary log.



Sparq features an array of tools and templates designed by leading industry experts and infused with the science of market research. All survey modes and question types are driven by fundamental interaction design principles. The interactive and engaging nature of the activities capitalize on one of the fundamental advantages of being online— a user-friendly experience that doesn’t interrupt, but can engage the consumer. The platform features a wide range of visual question types that make surveys more enjoyable and interactive for members. The survey experience is entirely mobile optimized for smart phones and tablets.

Just a few further examples of Visual Question Activities created directly in Sparq.
Just a few further examples of Visual Question Activities created directly in Sparq.
Just a few further examples of Visual Question Activities created directly in Sparq.


Single question quick polls are available in our platform and a fun and quick way to engage with members in your community portal. Often our clients will create a new fun topic each week, such as favorite film genre, of preferred way to consume media. Results are instantly displayed online and included as feedback ('did you know' messages) in email invitations to research activities.



Detects the screen size of device (iPad, iPhone, Android)

All surveys and qualitative discussions can be automatically optimised for smartphone or tablet completion. The platform automatically detects the user’s device and serves an optimised version of the survey or forum experience. Members are not required to download an app – everything is browser-based - so the experience is entirely seamless


Our Mobile App Icon

Member facing mobile app that allows members to respond to any Sparq survey they are invited to. Push notifications will alert member to new surveys, if they are deployed using the new mobile communication type. Surveys that are deployed using the email communication type will show up in the app, but the user won’t receive a notification on their device.

  • An engaging member experience across all screens
  • Increased mobile response rates
  • Anywhere, anytime access to members
  • Access to app based capabilities that aren’t available via traditional mobile surveys
  • Ability for administrators to target members while an experience is fresh in their minds



Enterprise Reporting Tools

Our real-time reporting and analytics tools will help Audible inspire, empower and activate stakeholders with the insight they need to make better decisions faster. From seamless data integration to one-click data export, analysis tools and more, our platform delivers sharable insight and ideas that will resonate with colleagues and business leaders across your company.

Sparq features a robust reporting interface that makes it easy to handle your reporting needs:

  • Build datasets from multiple studies and create an unlimited number of reports quickly and easily
  • Instantly build topline reports
  • Rename questions and re-label row and column headers without touching the original study
  • Create crosstabs and merge and append rows and columns inline
  • Apply Significance Tests
  • Add weighting for statistical relevance
  • Create heatmaps
  • Quickly publish reports to the web
  • Export to Excel, CSV or SPSS


Longitudinal and Progressive Learnings: The “stories” feature enables you to get maximum value from the insights and intelligence you’ve captured from members over time by tapping into past data your community has collected to answer a targeted business question. You are able to create an intelligent and cohesive research report, annotated with your collective understandings in order to present your findings back to your stakeholders.

An example of the first process of creating a story, setting a title and outlining the story objectives.

The Stories feature enables you to get maximum value from the collective wisdom of your customer. It enables you to answer targeted business questions using all of the Insight your community has collected. This enables you to not only create a comprehensive data view of your problem, it also ensures that you do not ask the same question that you have already asked them – it protects you from spamming your customers!

Screenshot of our Stories Reporting application and the ability to annotate stories.

Stories allows you to tap into current and past insights from across the enterprise, and bring in the relevant data points from these studies in order to create an intelligent and cohesive research report, annotated with your collective understandings in order to present your findings back to your Audible stakeholders. Searching your community database for past intelligence you can quickly find historical data points and add them to your story through the click of a mouse. Include quantitative reports in visual or table format, add heat maps to visualize your findings, annotate directly in the report to create a compelling higher-level narrative including your challenges and recommendations, share the Story with your colleagues to collaborate on the findings, allowing them to add their thoughts. Finally, share the completed story with your end stakeholders through a secure link.


Integration with other partners

Providing publicly accessible API endpoints for adding and updating Profile Variable’s and related Member Data in Sparq. As we aim to make Vision Critical the connective tissue for customer intelligence across the enterprise, we have built a platform that is rooted in an API architecture. This allows us to provide our clients direct access to data, and lets us be built us in as a core integration for their ecosystems and workflows.

  • Read (Get)/Write (Post) to Member Panelist Data
  • Supports workflows to read new member and updates to member data
  • Post new members and update member data from an external system
  • Read (Get)/Write (Post) to Profile Variables definitions
  • Supports mapping changes to your profile definitions from external systems (and vice versa)

Our first release of APIs focuses on Member and Profile data, our API library will continue to grow and made available as our team builds and documents them.

Vision Critical offers a number of integration methods and can trigger various interactions/actions from and to our platform.


Commercial Breakdown

TIERED COSTING MODEL, ROLLOUT TIMELINE Our cost framework for your community comprises three elements:

  1. Software subscription: This increases as the total community size grows
  2. Community management
  3. Research Services: (Optional Service, Research Retainer).

Subscription Breakdown: Unlimited use of the platform for quantitative, qualitative and mobile studies.

Costs based on scoped pilot project.

Research Retainer, Full Service Options

Given that research needs invariably change over time as a function of a dynamic business environment, the recommended approach for ad-hoc research services is to dedicate a set amount of funds (e.g. £15,000 - £60,000) that can be drawn down from on an 'as-needed basis' to address your full-service research requirements. This approach offers more flexibility to use these funds on any mixture of small or medium studies (or other needs and assistance) rather than trying to fit a set schedule per quarter. Vision Critical provide market leading research services, benefiting from an experienced client service team. Should Audible wish to take advantage of Vision Critical’s research services the following outlines the associated costs & parameters

Full-service studies include:

  • Survey design (up to 2 revisions)
  • Survey programming, QA, and launch....More specifically;
  • Small Study = simple PPT-based report with charts, and key story highlights (OR one infographic).
  • Medium Study = simple PPT-based report with charts and key story highlights

Research Services Rate Card


We have many examples across a range of industries where the community that a brand has established has been directly monetised. Commercial application includes: creating added value for partners; selling more product; leveraging trading negotiations & agreements; creating a new revenue stream by allowing third party access. In our experience, the key to achieving this is by first establishing a highly engaged and healthy customer base with strong response rates. This can take up to 12 months, after which commercialisation can be considered and planned. For Audible, monetisation could take many forms. One potential route is to give retail entertainment buyers direct access. The community could deliver powerful category insights into shopper mindset & behaviour helping them understand how best to display and present products to customers, as well as what promotional mechanics will attract them to spend. The insights could be charged for at market rates or alternatively incorporated into trading agreements & used to secure additional trade marketing support. We would work with Audible to help develop a commercialisation plan, and share best practice examples for the 700+ communities we run globally.


Vision Critical has built a structured, repeatable approach to setting up insight communities. Our implementation process ensures that we bring best practices into every step of our engagement while still making sure that the community is built to meet our client’s specific needs. A typical implementation is roughly 6-8 weeks and follows the progression below:

At a high level, there are a number of components in the setup process;

  • Understanding your business
  • Understand your research objectives
  • Establish roles and responsibilities
  • Identify risks and concerns
  • Set up Portal site with survey skin and email skins
  • Design and develop the screener survey
  • Design and set up an incentives program (recruitment / on-going)
  • Develop an optimal community distribution
  • Design a recruitment strategy
  • Set up a member management system
  • Educate on the long term community activities
  • Push the community live
  • Start recruiting members to join the community



Vision Critical are proud to support SoundCloud who have developed the 'Open Mic' Community; a community dedicated to SoundCloud users and music & audio lovers, helping to make the SoundCloud platform even better.

Powered by Vision Critical

As a member of the Spotify Soundwave Community, members can take part in co-creation, surveys, discussions and feedback sessions that will help change the way Spotify are going, helping shape the future of Spotify.

Powered by Vision Critical
Proud to support a business that changing the world through digital experiences.
An overview of how Adobe utilize their Vision Critical Insight Community can be found above. A further case study can also be found on our website.
Video available on the Vision Critical website.
Supporting Microsoft across a number of different business units.
Demonstrating how the Community has provided significant cost saving around research.
Through ongoing Co-Creation with members Microsoft was able to ensure the Windows 10 launch was going to be a huge success.

thank you Ben, we look forward to your feedback.

Created By
Mark Dunster


Created with images by annca - "popcorn cinema ticket" • Magnascan - "mother board electronics computer"

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