Recruiting Online Qualitative: Best Practices from the Trenches

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by doyle

From the desk of Natanya Rubin

Online qualitative research is a terrific way to accomplish a national or even international recruit, save time and money on travel, and to gain deep insights from respondents.  But the success of a project can only be assured by getting the details of the recruit right.  We’d like to share some best practices that help ensure that your online project delivers!

Understand your recruiting target.  When you’re deciding whether to conduct mobile diaries, online communities, or webcam interviews, take a good look at your respondent profile and ask yourself, “What is the right method for this target? For example, you might find that with a youth-oriented recruit, you will get richer insights from a mobile journal, where respondents can speak intimately and in their own voice, versus a traditional online bulletin board where they may not have the patience to provide in-depth, written responses.

Be prepared to offer an appropriate incentive. Make sure your incentive is appropriate to the investment of time and effort you’re asking of the respondent, to reduce drop-off during the study and the need for more over-recruits.  Online qual often asks respondents to return to the platform on multiple occasions, since tracking behavior over time is one of the many benefits of the methodology.  The incentive must entice (as well as fairly reward) the respondents in order to get good completion rates.

Screen smart. Screeners for online qual should always include questions around technology ownership and user comfort with their devices, along with questions about online behaviors that ensure that they will be able to navigate the chosen platform. Additionally, we select recruiters who use recruiting methods that meet respondents on their own turf.  For example, a mobile pre-screening link is a natural method of outreach for respondents who spend a great deal of time on their smartphones, and who might be great candidates for a mobile journal.

Choose the right recruiter.  It’s important to select a recruiter with a substantial qualitative database for online methodologies.  Although there are some studies where a panel recruit might be appropriate, it is not recommended for online qual, as respondents who are more used to online surveys might not understand the robust commitment expected for an online qualitative study.

By taking a good look at your target, offering the right incentive, asking the right questions in the screener, and choosing a recruiting partner who can deliver committed respondents, you can ensure that your online study delivers rich, in-the-moment insights!


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