7 recruitment tips for online qualitative research

The key to successful people recruitment for online qualitative research projects begins with the first contact. Being able to clearly articulate what you expect of participants and how you will reward them. Recruiting for online research is different from traditional recruitment methods. It requires an agile and proven online approach, as well as understanding how to engage participants once they enter the group.

Participants recruited need to be able to jump on-board and learn how to use the online technology while participating, and without having to be trained in how to use the software before the group begins. A requirement for participant training only adds to the cost of recruitment and creates unwanted friction before the project has even started.

7 tips for online research automation recruitment:

  1. Don’t be afraid to inform – include a summary of the purpose of online focus group or discussion. To do this you need to understand what you are asking them to do and what value their contribution will make? The incentive reward is vital, but you will get an improved buy-in if you can help participants identify with the subject matter. We all like to be valued, and the same goes for individuals’ opinions. If people feel their views are appreciated they would be more likely to log into your group after a long day’s work.
  2. Set clear expectations and confirm – include a clear list which provides a summary of what people can expect when agreeing to participate in an online focus or community discussion group. A confirmation email should outline what a participant can expect on the day, and what technology they will need to participate.
  3. Remuneration or incentive  – money talks! With consumer groups, you rarely find a group of committed people willing to give up an hour or so of their time just to do you a favour. Offering a proper and reasonable remuneration is a good way to appeal to participants and get them to agree to participate. The amount paid is proportional to the time the participants need to commit, including any preparation work required. On projects we recruit for and manage on behalf of clients, we offer between $AUD55 and $AUD70 per hour for consumer groups. Professionals require more, Doctors and similar professions starting at four times this amount. A larger carrot and hook is essential for time-poor professionals.When communicating with potential participants, state upfront that when they will be remunerated, and reinforce the point that it is only payable upon successful completion of the project. Suitable and reasonable remuneration helps to reduce abandonment on the day while supporting thoughtful and considered responses.
  4. It’s all about timing – GroupQuality conducts online chat focus groups around 7.15pm in the evening, on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Most people have finished work, and have come to terms with the reality that the weekend is over. They are not distracted by Friday social commitments, and most have had a meal and put young children to bed. We find day recruitment is traditionally harder when looking to fill projects which require a broad spectrum of demographics. During the day, you often compete with work commitments, and the dreaded inbox filling up with emails vying for their attention. This evening time slot works well for both consumer and business chat focus groups.
  5. Personalise invitations  – It may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised on how many email requests do not address the individual by the first name, a simple “Hi Geoff” is all that’s required. If you are expecting people to give you their opinion and share their experiences and thoughts, don’t make them feel like just another number on a recruiters list.
  6. Anonymity counts – Whenever possible make your projects anonymous and communicate this clearly to potential participants when recruiting. Ensure your online research software allows you to assign an ‘alias’ and unique anonymous identifier to assist with reporting. Anonymity is appealing to participants especially those first timers or lower literacy users who may have concerns about ‘getting it wrong’. The understanding that others in the group won’t see them is a powerful recruiting hook.
  7. Paint a recognisable picture  – people are so used to commenting on social media. Asking participants to type their opinion into a text box is no longer unfamiliar territory. When recruiting, compare participating in an online discussion group with Facebook or chatting online, make it recognisable so they can assess for themselves if they have the skills, ability or inclination to participate. Help people visualise what the experience will be like, especially if they have never participated in online qualitative research before. It just assists in building confidence and removing the fear of the unknown.

Find out more about online participant recruitment


Free participant recruitment Guide!

Further reading: Read about How to Invite Participants to an Online Discussion Board

Find out more about online discussion boards.

GroupQuality® is a cloud based agile market research software and service that helps you capture consumer insights, in less time, on smaller budgets and with fewer resources. If you need a fast and flexible tool to engage customers, employees and partners, to communicate, collaborate, ask questions and quickly capture the answers, then we are for you!

This article first appeared @ groupquality.com/blog

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