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4 Secrets to Great Qualitative Research Recruitment

Updated: Feb 11, 2019

ABA’s research shows that brands which connect emotionally with consumers typically outperform rivals. Our clients are increasingly interested in discovering how customers feel, rather than viewing them as purely rational agents, and a key means of doing this is qualitative research. However, something often overlooked is that this work can only be as good as the respondents involved, and recruiting these respondents is a complex process. This blog explores some of the challenges you have likely faced and our tactics for overcoming these and giving you maximum insight.


1. Quality Assurance


One of the trickiest parts of qualitative recruitment is getting to the authentic voice of your target audience. Some candidates are more concerned about the size of the incentive than contributing fully. Some can be too reserved and others too overpowering. A few might be almost classed as ‘professional’ respondents who have learnt how to play the system, slip through screening processes and collect their wage.


How can you overcome this?




Using social media-sponsored ads has proven a very effective way of securing the genuine, fresh participants that typical panels don’t reach. ABA FieldFirst’s solution involves the meticulous examination of all potential respondents. Following the initial screening we double-check crucial criteria and gain a ‘gut feel’ for each candidate’s genuineness and ability to talk honestly and appropriately.


2. Keeping respondents engaged


On longer-term projects or those with lengthier lead times, the biggest challenge is ensuring everyone remains engaged – finding the balance between checking in on people and not being overbearing.


How can you succeed?


Including fun but useful pre-tasks can be an effective way to not only warm participants up but also get them feeling invested in the process. FieldFirst uses Skype calls to run pre-tasks that give us a better sense of what respondents are like. These also serve to demonstrate ABA is not a faceless company, but a team with whom participants can strike up a genuine relationship. Some tasks are incentivised, which again helps cement the connection. If you can make people feel valued and listened to, the quality of outputs is much richer.




3. Fitting technique to target


The more specific the criteria the harder it is to recruit. For example, a particular demographic in a remote location is a test, as is work that requires people to divulge sensitive information.


How can you overcome this?


Having the ability to adapt your approach and discern who will be suitable for the research is vital. Social media is especially effective here as it provides cost-effective access to people in sparsely populated areas. When more location-specific criteria are at play, in-store recruitment is often best.


4. Dealing with last-minute mishaps


Sometimes issues crop up that no amount of planning or pre-checking could predict e.g. cancelled trains or participants stuck in traffic.


How can you overcome this?


Over-recruiting so as to have back-ups can help. At FieldFirst we have a dedicated help-line, manned out of hours, which gives respondents a checkpoint and ensures no one drops out through lack of clarity/last-minute panics.




With over 20 years of experience, ABA FieldFirst is ideally placed to equip you with genuine insight and commercial advantage, and to ensure you avoid the damaging effects of being misled by badly recruited respondents.


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