Posts Tagged ‘recruiting’

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.

Ensuring Cheaters Never Prosper: Tips on Reputable Recruiting

Posted on: September 24th, 2015 by doyle

Cheaters-copy1From the desk of Natanya Rubin

Recently, we discovered that Doyle Research had been listed on a website that aggregates recruiting facilities (which we definitely are not!). This site, in addition to linking potential respondents directly to facilities’ online registration pages, also lists the details of upcoming studies, in various degrees of detail, often including the incentive amount. For those of us whose job it is to ensure that our recruits are honest, accurately recruited, and legitimate, it was an uncomfortable thing to see.

Posting studies online can facilitate specific recruits, and is used by many reputable companies. But it obviously opens up opportunities to cheat. With no limit on the number of projects for which a user completes an initial screener, sites like the one we found make it all too easy for people to become professional respondents. Reliable recruiters have to have strategies to screen out cheaters who reply to these types of ads.

I reached out to Kathryn Harlan, CEO of 20|20 Facilities, a longtime recruiting partner of ours, to get her take on the issue. She told me that 20|20 approaches these concerns in several ways:

Blind the study as much as possible. “Ideally, we craft postings that are applicable to the target audience, but where the exact screening specifications are omitted. You want to be considerate of respondent time.  You want them to take surveys that they might qualify for, so that you don’t burn out their engagement.  But you don’t want to lead them directly to the screening criteria.  It’s a fine line, and we’re always thinking about where it is.”

Database maintenance is key. Prior participation should be scrupulously tracked by topic and by client, so that there isn’t a chance of respondents double dipping in a topic area. Although there’s no way to guarantee that they aren’t participating in studies with other companies, a strong database makes sure that they’re being honest about their participation with an individual recruiter.

Screen multiple ways, multiple times. Through an initial online screener, a detailed phone screener, and a re-screen upon confirmation or at the facility, the recruiter should keep a sharp eye out for inconsistencies in the answers. If the respondent answers consistently, without being led, there’s a greater chance that they have been honest in their responses.

Online recruiting is undeniably a great way to reach fresh sample.  Following a few simple best practices can go a long way to keeping studies honest.


Qualitative Research: It’s All About the Recruit

Posted on: April 27th, 2015 by doyle


From the desk of Natanya Rubin, Project Manager

Want great learning? It all starts with great respondents.

Experienced qualitative researchers know that it’s all about the recruit. The moderator could be amazing, the facility could have gourmet catering and breathtaking cityscapes, but in the end, the success of any qualitative research project depends on identifying and recruiting engaged, talkative (yet not overbearing) respondents who fit the specified criteria. How do we do this, you may ask? Well, after 25+ years in the biz, we have several tricks up our sleeve. Below, a short primer on how to find qualified participants.

1) Slow Down, Don’t Move too Fast

Take your time pinpointing the recruitment criteria. Every researcher has been in sessions where the participants were correctly recruited, but the recruitment criteria were just plain wrong. Does the research call for category users? Defectors? Specialized businesspeople? Who is the voice of your target market? Category knowledge is key here too – for example we screen out “flippers” from home improvement research and people with severe food allergies from food and beverage work.

2) Behind the Screen

Then it’s on to writing the screener. A screener should be concise, engaging, and should lead the recruiter through the critical points in a logical manner. The questions should be designed to encourage candor in the potential respondent. It should be written in a way that the recruitment criteria are unclear to the respondent, so that they can’t game the system in order to qualify. The screener should also test the respondent for articulation, so that not only is the interview with the right person, but it is also with a person who can share insights expressively.

3) Recruiting the Recruiters

The search for exceptional respondents can only take place with the help of exceptional recruiters. The project directors at Doyle Research develop long-term working relationships with recruiting partners who have proven themselves to be smart, honest, and committed to the goal of delivering the very best respondents on the day of the interview.

At DRA, we know that recruiting quality respondents leads to richer insights. By refining the recruitment criteria, crafting a great screener, and developing relationships with the best recruiters in the business, we deliver respondents whose feedback generates great learning!

Communication Strategies for Qualitative Researchers

Posted on: July 26th, 2013 by doyle

 From the desk of Carolyn Jillson

A friend recently lamented to me about her teenage son’s inability to conduct “real conversations.” Like many parents of tweens and teens she is concerned that texting has replaced face-to-face conversations. “How will he ever develop meaningful relationships if all he does is text?” she asked. Another friend has been exasperated at her mother’s inability to discern when to use the various communication techniques. Her mom sent a text to inform the immediate family that grandpa was close to death. But she picked up the phone to announce that paper towels were on sale and she had an extra coupon. It seems like no generation has a lock on how and when to use all the various communication tools available.

When is it best to pick up the phone and make a call instead of sending a text or an e-mail? In an era when we can communicate efficiently and accomplish so much by email, there are still occasions when having an actual conversation is the most productive and appropriate way to communicate. We find these questions come up when we are selecting qualitative research methods, but we also use a combination of communication methods behind the scenes.


An efficient recruit uses both e-mail and phone calls to screen and confirm respondents. Even when we use online recruiting methods for an online research project like bulletin boards or video diaries, we try to also do confirmation calls on the phone. We find that this personal connection with respondents elicits stronger commitments to the projects. We end up with better show rates and more enthusiastic participants.

An e-mail blast can reach many people and quickly screen out those who don’t fit the most basic requirements. It is a good way to confirm basic demographic information and check availability and interest.

Phone calls are made to confirm essential information, ask more complicated screening criteria, to do scheduling, to explain study requirements and to obtain verbal commitments to the research projects.

Tech checks

Automated online tech checks can be the best way to verify that people have the required hardware and software. If they don’t have required programs or latest version, links can be provided for immediate downloads.

We like to have technicians call respondents and conduct live tech checks for webcam interviews. A live technician can walk respondents through the steps of connecting a new webcam, can troubleshoot problems more easily and can insure that people get set-up with good lighting and clear sound.

Project work

E-mail creates a paper trail and an electronic filing system. This has not only eliminated the need for large stacks of paper cluttering many office desks, but enables us to quickly retrieve information.

When I find many e-mails bouncing back and forth endlessly, I pick up the phone. Phone conversations facilitate discussion when input is needed from multiple people. You can also read the tone of people’s voices and create more personal conversations on the phone.

As qualitative researchers, we are also experts in talking to your customers. We have conversations with people on a variety of platforms in order to create connections with them and discover what they do/ want/ need and why. Sometimes it’s easiest just to ask the questions while other objectives are more complex and best addressed through discussion or observation. Luckily, we have mastered a wide variety of communication platforms and we can pick and choose the appropriate combination for your qualitative research questions.