Finding the Participants

In this short paper, we’ll explain some of the main sources for participants, the pros / cons of each and when we recommend you use them.

You’re ready to take the plunge and begin an online qual research study but there’s one big question you need to address: where to find the study participants? In this short paper, we’ll introduce some of the common sources for participants, the pros and cons of using each and when we recommend them. In particular, we'll cover the following:

Sourcing from internal customer or employee lists

A good place to start is with the people you already have access to. This option presents the opportunity to save money and to create a community that delivers both insight and reciprocity. However, if considering this option, keep in mind that unless you have an established relationship with the people on your list, email based recruiting often only yields a 1% to 2% conversion rate. Plan accordingly and run the numbers to ensure that your list is adequate. You may need to supplement with another source.

Also, considering that those on a list you already own will most likely be stakeholders in your business, you may need to factor in their familiarity with your company or products and any bias that may introduce to the research.

Recruit from social networks

This is a great choice, particularly if your budget is tight or if you’re looking to supplement another approach. As with internal lists, this source requires access to a substantial existing population that matches the profile of your ideal community member. Expect the conversion rate to be even lower than that of a list and adjust communications accordingly.

In addition to considerable savings, this option also introduces the prospect of generating reciprocity among your target audience. Opening an invitation to the general population however, does introduce a certain degree of risk of attracting (and subsequently rejecting) participants that don’t fit the profile needed for your research.

Panel recruiting

This is the most common recruiting method for studies in Recollective. Participants are recruited from an online database via a brief online screening survey, based on your specific demographic and behavioural requirements. Prices can vary depending on the recruiting specifications. A gen pop recruit might only cost a couple dollars a head where a more complicated project involving a niche requirement could be well over one hundred dollars per person.

If recruiting for a small, qualitative online community, be sure to confirm if any project minimum fee is in play. And if you’re recruiting for a long-term community, few panel recruiters can meet this need. You’ll often need to switch to a qual recruiter.

Use a specialist qualitative research recruiter

If the population is highly niched or if the participation requirements are such that a traditional panel might not have sufficient coverage to yield adequate results, a qualitative recruiter is likely the best remaining choice.

They will often use a variety of sources including panels, social networks or affiliated (e.g. international) recruiting agencies to take further action to find people for your study while ensuring quality and verifying participant identity. This is usually the most expensive option and is often well over $100 USD per person before incentive and management fees. You will however usually get a much more hands-on service which can make all the difference in complex or hard to recruit studies.

The paper also poses four key questions for you to consider:

  • How easy is this population to reach (and retain)?
  • How much are you asking of them?
  • What do they receive in exchange for taking part?
  • How much is enough?
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Finding the Participants

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