When conducting research of any type, it is important that the people, participants or respondents are representative of your target audience and are able to effectively provide you with the feedback and answers you are seeking. In most instances it is not a case of simply surveying anyone you know, but rather sourcing people who can help you answer your questions.
Ways to source participants
Recruiting from your customer lists
In many instances it is possible to recruit from your own business lists you may have acquired over time such as:
- Customer lists
- Supplier lists
- Competition entry lists
- Newsletter subscription lists
- Past research lists
- Referrals from participants you have used previously (they may suggest a friend or family member to join your member lists)
- Website enquiries
Recruiting from Intercept & Screening Surveys
Intercept Survey - You might consider creating an online intercept survey for your website to capture participants, or by using Twitter or Facebook to distribute a participant screening survey. This involves putting a link on your website, Twitter or Facebook page that leads to a survey you have created, that qualifies respondents to participate in your research. You can then select your participants from this group of responses.
Screening Survey - You may be looking for participants with particular demographics and behaviour suitable for your research project. You can create a short survey asking for particular attributes and choose your participants based on the responses that fit your requirements. Once qualified through your screening survey you can assign chosen participants to a project list in your panel manager and then use that project list to invite them to a scheduled discussion board or live group session. This approach also helps to improve response rates, as each person receiving the email is more likely to trust an email generated by a recognisable email sender having already completed the screening survey from you.
GroupQuality’s online survey tool will provide you with the tools you need to create and manage intercept surveys or screening surveys to find and manage people (participants).
Things to consider when choosing participants for online market research
- Demographics such as age, income, education etc.
- Customer behaviour e.g. do they use a certain type of product?
- Online behaviour e.g. Internet usage and computer literacy.
- Availability to participate at a time which suits you.
- Geographic region.
- Access to a reliable ADSL Internet connection
- Basic typing ability
- Basic computer literacy - if participants can type a comment in Facebook they can participate in online focus groups, community discussion boards and online surveys.
For the best results consider participants who you feel will contribute openly and constructively, but don’t discriminate. Sometimes people we think may be too opinionated can in fact be the most communicative in-group discussions. While we may not always want to hear their criticisms, it can be more insightful than those participants who are simply willing to agree. It is up to the Moderator to manage the discussions in a way that creates an equal voice for all participants.
How many Participants to recruit
It is important that you research enough participants to achieve a satisfactory result and allow you to make clear decisions from the results. This can vary from a two to three hundred in a survey to 15 to 30 people in a discussion board and 6 people in an online focus group, or 1 person in an online chat based interview.
If you are unsure then you can send us a support ticket and we can steer you in the right direction with one of our certified research panel experts.
Managing participants through GroupQuality’s ‘Panel Manager’ is easy. It allows you to add members and upload lists of people to your account. Once you have added the members you will have a database from which to manage and invite participants, observers and moderators for your research projects.
You can manually add your participants to a project list, or if you have large lists you can import them via .CSV file using the downloadable template provided when you click on the upload buttons. Once you have added your participants into a project list, they will be added to the panel manager database and you can create specific groups for particular research projects based on the peoples details. You can include full information about each participant in the members area including basic demographic and personal information. You can download a copy of all your panel members at anytime.
Participant rewards and incentives
In exchange for agreeing to participate in research, participants are offered a reward or incentive. These are usually distributed after the research session has been completed. For over-time studies such as online community discussion boards you may look at offering a maximum remuneration or prorata remuneration for any participants that don’t complete the full project.
It is important to advise participants in communication with them before the session starts that full remuneration will be received following successful completion of the project.
Remuneration can be delivered a number of ways, by either providing a prize draw entry, a gift voucher, or cash distributed through online payment portals such as PayPal or via cheque.
Depending on the nature of the projects and whether the participants have been supplied by you, or recruited from an online panel, the value of the reward will be related to the type of research being conducted.
As a guide for a consumer based project in either a 60 minute online focus group or interview the value of the reward is between $30 and $70. In a discussion board project participants may be rewarded based on their continued contribution, for example, you might split $50 over 5 days, with $10 a day rewarded for a 20 minute participation each day.
As you start to accumulate research participants in GroupQuality’s Panel Manager, and provided they meet the profile of the participants you require, you can invite them to take part in future projects. However, ensure you don’t exhaust participants by inviting them too often as this can have a negative effect on their contributions.
As a general rule of thumb, it is common to wait three to six months between projects before inviting the same person to take part in a completely different project. After a person has completed a project for you, thank them for their valued contribution and ask them if they would be interested in participating in future research projects for you.
Importance of Participant Relationships
It is important to foster positive relationships with your project participants. This doesn’t include sending chocolates or flowers (!) but comes down to respect and the way in which you communicate with them. Remember they are giving up their time to provide you with feedback and at times may be providing you with personal information and opinions on sensitive topics.
Even though you are remunerating them, a courteous and respectful manner is required at all times. This includes sending information about the session with enough time for them to manage their schedules, and providing as much information as you can about the purpose and required outcomes of the project to eliminate any pre-participation apprehensions they may have. This can be as simple as using courteous language; providing some simple dot point information about what to expect; doing exactly what you say you are going to do, and keeping sessions within the allocated time frame (overruns may result in participant abandonment). Also, send remunerations in a reasonable timeframe following completion of the research session.
Want more information?
Why not download our comprehensive guide: How to recruit participants for online market research.