Research Now Conducting Successful Online Focus Groups November 2007. London Paris Hamburg Frankfurt Athens Toronto New York San Francisco Chicago Sydney Melbourne. Introduction Recruitment
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Conducting Successful Online Focus Groups
Do online focus groups provide a good context for engaging with
Do online focus groups, therefore, provide a good context for engaging with
Conducting focus groups online can address
most, if not all of these issues
Reach Participants across the world from one single touchpoint
3. Client portal
Moderator can display visuals to the group
Moderator can show group websites or other live online content within the focus group environment
TRANSCRIPTS: Instantly available
Research Now conducted 2 pilot groups in August 2007 amongst our own panelists to get some diagnostic feedback on the ‘panel experience’, and to fully test the process of conducting a focus group
The Pilot was designed to give us valuable feedback in three main areas:
1. Recruitment – what is the most effective way of recruiting to an online focus group?
2. To test the effectiveness and technical stability of our online focus group package
3. To examine Participant engagement once panelists were focus group participants
For both pilot groups, recruitment was conducted in 2 stages:
The first stage was a general screening survey, which was sent to 400-500 selected RSN panelists to establish eligibility and interest……(more in a minute)
The second stage was used to select and invite eligible panelists to the specific group events
We have an innovative new survey available for you to take. As a valued member of our panel we would like to invite you to an online session next week, where you can discuss your experience on our panel and the new technologies we are introducing to improve this experience.
If you complete the survey and undertake a one hour online session with ourselves you will receive £20.00, if you do not qualify for the survey you will receive a free entry into our quarterly prize draw for £250. These next few questions will help us determine what group to put you in. Please be advised that none of this information will be passed to any third parties.
Are you willing to take part in this Valued Opinions study taking place on Wednesday, August 8th…?
Do you or any member of your family work in any of the following industries? Please select THOSE THAT APPLY
Advertising (screened out) Public Relations
Marketing and sales Civil Service
IT Professional (screened out) Market research (screened out)
Catering/Restaurant None of the above
Are you… Please select one answer below
Which of the following ranges includes your age? Please select one answer below
Under 18 45-54
35-44 Prefer not to say
Which of the following bests describes the region of the UK you live in? PLEASE SELECT ONE ANSWER BELOW
North East (Tyne Tees) East of England (Anglia TV)
North West (Granada TV) South East (Meridian TV)
Yorkshire & The Humber (Yorkshire) South West (West country TV)
East Midlands (Central TV) London (Carlton TV/LWT)
West Midlands (Central TV) Wales (Wales/HTV)
Scotland (Grampian TV/STV/Border) None of these
For both Pilots, around three quarters of those screened where eligible and interested in taking part in this group
As with offline groups, it was important to ensure that the screener was just a screener, and not a mini survey in its own right. We advise that you should only use 10-12 simple, closed-end questions for a recruitment screener
In our experience, the screener often needs adapting (many come from face-to-face recruitment templates) or they get very vague screening briefs e,g “Mums with kids under 2”.
In both cases, the screener needs some adaptation for an online audience and clarification with the client in terms of any quotas or demographic splits required.
When examining reasons for poor attendance in pilot 1, two factors seemed to have had an impact on success rates:
1. The group demographic was unreliable – we targeted young 18-24 year olds – despite lining up 12 people to take part in the group at their preferred time and reminding them by SMS the day before, it seems that this group were unreliable. We think that perhaps this age group is less committed to taking part in groups and may be swayed by last-minute changes of plan. By contrast, when we mixed up the age groups for pilot 2, we saw much better attendance rates.
2. The wording in the recruitment invitation about over-recruitment: “There is limited space availability, so only the first to arrive will be able to participate” seems to have put some Participants off turning up for the group.
We amended the invitation for the second pilot, and response seems to have been better.
1. Be clear in your instructions – make sure password and link information that you send is correct!
2. Don’t put off Participants from turning up to the group by indicating that they may be rejected (i.e ‘please ensure you turn up at least 20 minutes before the start. Places will be given on a first come first serve)
3. Make sure that Participants are told that clients may be watching the group – this is a MRS code of conduct requirement for all focus groups
4. Try and set the scene and give as much detail as possible about what the experience will be like to manage expectations
5. Vary your recruitment strategy to suit your target demographic e.g over-recruit young people by up to 3x
6. Time the group so that is appropriate for your target audience
7. Consider making the process more personal with a quick phone call reminder rather than an e-mail / SMS to engender more loyalty to turn up to the group
8. Ensure technical support is available at the moment the group is about to start – this is the most crucial moment and the moment you are most likely to lose Participants!
1. Make it as easy as possible for Participants to log in – use existing names and passwords if you are recruiting from a panel source where possible
2. Set up a helpline for technical issues (preferably a phone and e-mail option in case the Participant is experiencing internet connection issues)
3. We would encourage the moderator to visit a practice room ahead of the live group
4. Ensure there is a “hostess” on-hand to welcome participants into the group, explain the rules and turn away any “extra” Participants or late-comers
5. Have a project manager on-hand to trouble-shoot and call up non-showing Participants
1 Where possible, pre-load the discussion guide – this gives you more time to manage and engage with the responses of the group.
2. As with offline, make sure everybody is engaged!
3. At the start of the group, it can be a bit chaotic! However it does settle down in to a nice pattern once everyone gets to know each other
4. Keep an eye on the time – it really does go quickly.
5. The moderator should have an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the software they are using prior to the start of the group
6. Think about how you will want to analyse output from the groups and build in time if the transcript needs translating or analysing in non-word document format
Do online focus groups provide a good context for engaging with
Client Development Director
Research Now Plc
39, York Road, London
T : + 44 (0) 207 7921 2400
M : + 44 (0) 7974 170011