Online Chat Focus Groups, Limiting?

I’ve heard more than one respected researcher tell me that online chat focus groups do not allow for a significant depth of response and that respondents provide short, top of mind answers of limited value.

InsideHeads Participant view of an online focus group in real-timeWith more than a thousand notches on our online chat belt we can soundly report that participants provide as much detail and depth as is requested, provided you have a skilled interviewer and a well conceived discussion guide.

When the moderator asks a question to a group responding only via text, some respondents will answer right away, then follow that up with detail in a separate comment, while others will type the whole answer before hitting send. However they answer, it is surprisingly intuitive to follow the collective conversation as it scrolls on the screen, and even easier on the back-end to pull what you need from the transcripts.

When pulling key quotes for your report, simply combine any “choppy” answers from a single respondent so you have the full picture of what the participant actually conveyed.

InsideHeads online focus group research participantFor example, a discussion about a new plastic storage container prompted a multitude of separate responses from a single participant over the course of several minutes. When pulled together, the brevity builds and begins to tell the full story:

“The containers are great… the attached lids… we have an office full of  the old lids, no bottoms… the new containers stack well… labels don’t fall off… [I use the new containers for] storing everything here and at home that fits… [before I discovered these containers] I struggled with cardboard boxes we assembled ourselves… we can’t use the cardboard for long term storage… falls apart.”

-Kim, 35, male, IL

6 Ways to Boost Your Online Market Research

A hot topic in industry articles, white papers, and webinars today is conducting a strategic combination of quantitative and qualitative research online. While intimidating labels like multimethod research, hybrid approaches, mixed methods research, multimethodology, and even methodological pluralism (seriously?) may be flooding the airwaves, at its core the concept has always been a good one for online market research.

InsideHeads online satisfaction-scaleQuantitative studies require a significant sample size  and qualitative studies require a few who freely speak. While that fundamental difference may seem to put the quant and qual fields at odds, in practice the two have always been more complementary than contradictory.

Increasing the richness of the data you collect and the insights you can elicit is just one reason to create a healthy mix of quant and qual. And it need not be a double-whammy to your research budget. At InsideHeads we consider small budgets to be a healthy challenge!

Here are 6 simple, cost effective quant/qual add-ons to consider when designing your next market research study:

1. Give your screener a boostInsideHeads research screening questionnaire
While you have prospective recruits completing your online screening questionnaire, consider directing qualified respondents to complete additional questions for an added incentive prior to their selection for an interview. Not only is it a good way to further qualify recruits, you’ll also collect a sizeable amount of quantifiable information. The added incentive cost is a small price to pay for getting valuable data in advance of an in-depth interview (IDI) or online focus group.

2. Invite participants to engage in other waysteen_online
Working a multimedia reply into your online questionnaire is crazy simple. Regardless which platform you’re using to create your survey, consider branching respondents based on their answers to a page that instructs them to do something else that will bring clarity or depth to their answer. Ask respondents to call a designated phone number and leave a detailed audio explanation, or ask them to email a photo or video before continuing.  All viable requests you can layer into your survey and track files received by name, email, or a preassigned ID number.

3. Not all homework is bad InsideHeads-market-research-participant-responding
Converse to the idea of working qualitative responses into your quantitative study, consider incorporating activities before or after a single or group interview. Whether it’s a shopping assignment, a diary, collage, video request, or some other activity, research participants are quite good at meeting whatever expectations you set in the recruiting process. Pay recruits appropriately for any homework time and you’ll be pleased how much the added information will enrich your discussions.

4. Think ahead to future research effortsInsideHeads Online Marketing Research
Whether you’re running an online questionnaire or screener, it’s always a good idea at the end to ask respondents if they’re interested in participating in future research, should they not qualify for the study at hand. Having a list of willing and eligible partipants at the ready will prove handy the next time you have questions that need answering. Even a small sample size can offer valuable insights. More than once I’ve seen a website halt release of a feature based on a few usability studies done using a free screenshare platform.

5. Get a little socialInsideHeads-market-research-participant-activities
It’s difficult to ignore the impact the internet has had on our social lives. The sheer volume of information, valuable or not, is enough to make any budding Data Scientists drool. The good news is that you don’t need an expensive tool to find good stuff in this vast space. The key is to have a working knowledge of boolean search methods, and some insight into Google’s research gold mines, including public data, scholarly publications, and consumer surveys . Marketers are even using social media sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and others for crowdsourced feedback to burning questions.

6. Design before deviceIdentify-research-design-before-device
Probably the most important tip for saving money on your next research study and keeping your objective in clear sight is to design your study first before you pick a tool or platform. Begin with the desired end result and work backwards and you’ll not only understand the best path to success, you’ll also find the best device for the job. Always fabulous, sometimes even free!

InsideHeads logoFor more information on creative research approaches that deliver, contact the nice folks at InsideHeads.