Recruiting qualitative respondents from a database can be a challenge when the target is very specialized. The solution is sometimes a list provided by the client. But list recruits come with their own challenges and it’s important to face them with creativity and realistic expectations.
Factors to consider when determining the viability of a list include:
- The type of contact information available: Does the list provide the full name of the respondent? Does the list provide an e-mail address, home phone number, and cell phone number? Often, e-mail is the most efficient way to reach respondents, but the subject line and body text must be very compelling to break through the general bulk of spam that people receive.
- The accuracy of the list: How current is the list? The longer ago the information was collected, the less likely it is to be accurate.
- The size of the list: Conventional wisdom in the recruiting sphere says that for a “good” list—that is, one with full, current information—there should be 30 names provided for each desired recruit. But that number can go up to 70 or 100 depending on the factors above.
- The ability to reveal the sponsor of the research: Can the sponsor of the research be identified, or is it a blinded study? Often, there are compelling reasons to obscure the origin of the study. But in a world where people are trained not to click on a link from an e-mail address they don’t recognize or pick up a call from an unknown number, it’s an uphill battle to get a reply from respondents not primed for research.
So how to break through and make a list work harder? It’s important to consider the pitch that you’re going to deliver to potential respondents. Thought needs to be put into a catchy subject line, a clear and compelling explanation of the study, and an appeal that makes it clear why they, personally, are so important to the study.
It’s also necessary to understand that even with a brilliant pitch, a lot more unprimed respondents are going to say no than yes. Allowing more time for recruiting and considering sweetening the deal with a higher incentive are both ways to improve the possibility of a favorable response.
Sometimes a qualitative recruit can’t be completed without a list, but the challenges can be considerable! Knowing the difficulties in advance can prepare you for success through careful planning, patience, and making the best case possible for a respondent to join the study.