When it comes to qualitative research, in-person research is the gold standard. With in-person research, you get non-verbal cues and group dynamics that can enhance insights. Inevitably, there are times when being in the same room presents challenges. With the right vendor, online research can be a great alternative. A good online research vendor will have experience with in-person research and recruiting as well as with technology. They will make online research feel comfortable for both clients and respondents.
Guide for When to Use Online Research
So how do you know when to use online alternatives? Here are some guides.
1. Very Low Incidence Recruits
If you are looking sufferers or treaters of a rare disease, your chance of getting the numbers you need, even if you are willing to go to several big cities, may be slim. Opening up to a national market can make the difference, and a good webcam focus-group platform will give you, your respondents, and your clients that in-person feel. Consider finding an online research partner that also has comprehensive national recruiting abilities.
2. Unforeseen Circumstances
It’s happened to all researchers. A snowstorm, a sick moderator or simply being stuck at the airport, things happen that can suddenly make in-person research impossible. An online research vendor that works closely with the facility and recruiting team can put together an online group quickly to save the time and money of doing makeup groups.
3. Low Budget Studies
Have you been asked to get a ton of interviews on an unrealistic budget? Bringing online interviews into the conversation lets you say “yes we can” without sacrificing your bottom line.
4. Rural Targets
Talking to respondents in remote areas can present logistical challenges. Conducting interviews online brings you into the office or home of each participant without traveling to far-flung locations. A good online research partner will work out any technical difficulties for you, testing the equipment before the interview, and making sure things go smoothly throughout.
5. Follow-Up Interviews
You have done your in-person research and are writing your report, and suddenly you have a handful of questions you wished you had asked. Reaching out to your recruiting firm to set up online interviews can save the day.
6. Shop-Along Experiences Without the Schlepping
In-person shop-along interviews require careful time and location management, and several people to handle recording equipment, etc. Now you can send any respondent into a store with a cell phone and ask questions as they shop with all communication automatically recorded for later use.
7. Long-Term Research Projects
If you want to get responses over a longer period of time (say for a product usage study), then an asynchronous online platform, like a bulletin board, is ideal. Respondents can post when they have something to say, and you can follow up at a time that’s convenient for you. You can choose to have respondents interact with each other, or give feedback individually. A good online research partner will stay on top of respondents to make sure quality and quantity of responses are high.
8. Assignment Coordination
Giving respondents an assignment to do before an in-person interview can enhance insights. When you can easily gather and look at those assignments online prior to the interview, the benefits are even greater. Find an online partner who will do more than just provide a platform for assignment upload, a partner who will handle all the administration of assigning, gathering, and follow-up.
Want to see what an online platform looks and feels like?
Think you might have a project that would benefit from online research?
Contact Fieldwork Webwork for a demo or more information.