Posts Tagged ‘recruiting’

Tackling Tight Timelines, Tough Specs: Is Online Recruiting for Qualitative an Option?

Posted on: June 26th, 2017 by doyle

finger-with-peopleFrom the desk of Natanya Rubin

In a world where the pace of business continues to increase but the demand for actionable, dependable results remains the same, the question in qualitative research becomes, how to deliver?  In the field department, we’re often asked to reconcile a tight timeline with challenging specs, and it’s up to us, with the help of a strong recruiting partner, to accomplish the seemingly impossible.  One option that we sometimes employ is to embrace the online recruit.

Prior to the explosion of online resources, a tough recruit was accomplished mainly by phone.  This was a dependable, but slow, method of finding qualified respondents.  Today, our most common approach to reaching a difficult target quickly is a hybrid of online and telephone recruitment.  Potential respondents are emailed (or even texted!) a preliminary screening survey, containing the study’s foundational specs.  If the respondent qualifies via the survey, they move on to a phone screening to ensure that they truly meet the requirements, and are engaged and articulate.  The online survey saves time and costs, while the telephone screen ensures quality.

Although it’s rare, in the face of a truly compressed timeline we might consider an online only recruit, where respondents complete the entire screener online, and never speak directly with a recruiter.  In that case, embracing the over-recruit is critical to the success of the study.  Although eliminating the hours and manpower that phone screening requires might save some dollars in the budget, an extremely generous over-recruit is needed, sometimes as much as 50% or more.  This ensures enough completes and enough high quality responses to generate reliable findings.  It’s never our preference to recruit this way, but in the face of an urgent need for results, this compromise can deliver.

The challenges of locating hard-to-find respondents are steep enough without adding a compressed timeline to the mix.  But thanks to the possibility of online screening, the chances of success are better than ever.  By deploying a hybrid recruiting method or even an online only method (always being aware of the additional steps needed, in that case, to assure quality completes), a tough timeline can be conquered!

Loving the List: A Qualitative Perspective

Posted on: April 27th, 2017 by doyle

Reading-a-list-225x300From the desk of Natanya Rubin

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.

Costing Qualitative, Part 2: Apples to Apples Comparisons

Posted on: June 10th, 2016 by doyle

project-costing-image1From the desk of Kathy Doyle

This is the 2nd of four blog posts with the goal of de-mystifying the process of obtaining and evaluating a qualitative bid.

Not all cost estimates are created equal. To ensure that apples-to-apples comparisons are made, check that all bids have based their costs on the exact same factors…

Number of recruits—Are all bids assuming the same total number of recruits? Note the difference between recruiting 30 total vs. recruiting 36 for 30 to complete.
Session length—Three 120-minute sessions vs. three 90-minute sessions is the equivalent of one additional 90-minute group discussion. An increase of 30-minutes per session will not only impact facility rental fees and respondents’ incentives, it will also increase the moderation and reporting fees.
Markets—Some markets are simply more expensive than others. If an RFP requests that the research be conducted in New York, a bid that’s based on conducting the sessions in Albany will likely be far less expensive than a bid based on conducting the sessions in Manhattan.
Incentive fees—Incentives are paid to entice consumers to share their experiences. If an incentive is too low, it makes recruiting difficult and tends to yield higher no-show rates. While a bid that includes a lower incentive may appear more budget friendly, in the long run it may cost more in terms of securing a solid recruit. Tip: Some estimates include respondent incentive fees, while other estimates state that incentives are not included and will be billed as a line item on the final invoice. Check this carefully!
Line item expenses—Review the bids to understand what items are included vs. those that will be billed as line items on a final invoice. Items such as client/respondent food, video recording, and shipping expenses, if not included in the project’s costs, can add substantial costs on a project’s final invoice.

For a copy of our whitepaper: “The Inside Skinny: Costing a Qualitative Project” click here.

To Sharpen Your Vision, Focus on the Specs!

Posted on: January 13th, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Natanya Rubin

key-selection-criteria-writing-serviceThe base of a solid study design starts with a focused list of recruiting specifications. Here are some ideas to consider when coming up with the attributes that your respondents should have.

Expand Your Thinking

Consider the benefits of broadening the definition of your target consumer.   For example, if you’re a chocolate bar company, rather than limiting your target to chocolate bar eaters, perhaps you could include those who eat other sweet treats.   The benefits are twofold: first, you can optimize incidence, and allow more opportunities for respondents to qualify; and second, you open up the possibility of gaining a new/ different perspective on your research questions.

Need to Know vs. Nice to Know.

Shorter screeners are desirable for many reasons. They keep recruiting costs down and increase the likelihood that respondents will give accurate, focused answers to the questions you do ask. Make targeted decisions about the “must have” attributes that will qualify respondents, and leave “nice to know” attributes to be explored either in a homework assignment or during the research.

Be Practical

Make sure the age range of your respondents matches up with the required ages of their kids. For example, finding 25 year old moms with more than one kid over the age of 3 can be a needle in a haystack! Be realistic about income ranges based on your research location. Consider whether strict employment quotas are realistic for your target consumers. Carefully approach asking questions about behaviors that respondents might be inclined to answer untruthfully about, such as frequency of tooth brushing or water drinking.

Focus on Lifestyle

The differences between age groups can be stark in some product and service categories. Be sure you understand what you’re getting when you recruit a mix of younger streaming music listeners vs. older CD buyers, or younger ATM users vs. older bank teller users. It’s also important to understand the distinction between products that consumers own vs. products that they actually use, and for what purposes. Are those candles in the living room meant only for decoration, for their scent, or to create ambiance? It’s important to understand the needs of the study, and then ask the right questions!

A smart recruit starts with smart specs! Spending a bit of time thinking through each requirement will pay off in better research results.


Show me the money! The art and science of setting respondent incentives

Posted on: October 22nd, 2015 by doyle

moneyvoteFrom the desk of Carolyn Jillson

Getting consumer incentives right sometimes feels like magic, and more of an art than a science. Incentives provide both motivation for respondents to follow through on their commitment to the research, as well as compensation for their time and effort. When project bids are competitive and research dollars are limited, we often end up debating the value of paying what feels like high incentives. Does an average suburban consumer really need $125 to come to a focus group? Do we really have to pay ICU nurses THAT much?
While there is a basic formula that recruiters use to estimate respondent incentives, there are many factors that influence the recommended amount. The three key considerations include:

  1. The amount of time required:  is it a 15-minute interview, or a series of activities over an extended time period?
  2. The incidence of the target respondent: how selective are the recruiting specs?
  3. The research method: what is required of the respondent?

No matter how little time or effort is required, we want qualified participants and enthusiastic participation. So there is a basic cost to get people out the door. Because of this, sometimes shorter interviews actually have higher incentives per minute than longer ones.

There are many factors that drive up incentives:

  • Needing to talk to a highly trained or very specific target market.   There are a limited number of possible respondents, so when recruiters find them, they want incentives to be higher than average so the qualified person is more likely to agree to participate.
  • Asking people to go to a specific store or cook a particular product. We need them to do the activity in a timely manner.
  • A longitudinal study, when we want to keep participants engaged over time. This is as true for projects that are extended over several days as it is for projects extended over weeks or months.
  • Self-ethnographies and online projects require less travel time and, in theory, less effort for the participants. But in these cases, we rely on the participants to follow through, to log-in, to answer the questions and complete the activities. The participants need to mange themselves. There is no facility hostess to remind them to fill out the form completely. So we usually increase incentives to motivate people to engage completely.
  • The weather can influence incentives. When it’s raining hard or a snowstorm is expected, people are more likely to cancel. So to make the trip out into inclement weather worth their while, we often increase incentives or offer a bonus for people who show up on time.

It is important to note that additional elements of the research can be used to engage respondents as much as, or even more than, cash. Respondents can be especially motivated by the topic of the research and excited to voice their opinions. Think beta testing new software, restaurant operators discussing kitchen equipment design, employees giving feedback on their training, or outdoor enthusiasts discussing the benefits of new products. So it is often motivating to let people know as much as you can about the research topic up front.

Finally, it is also important to engage respondents as much as possible. No matter how big the incentive, there is always a risk of taxing respondents with repetitive questioning or tedious tasks. An engaging discussion in a focus group, or fun and creative exercises on a bulletin board, draw people in. When we get the balance right, we see participants go above and beyond what we ask of them.