The advance of social media as a cultural phenomenon has paralleled the growth of digital technology and broadband connectivity. As a consequence, the maturation of online qualitative research platforms has resulted in improved cycle times, lower costs and better data quality.
However, it is important to recognize that online research can be unproductive if the data is not collected and interpreted properly. Online qualitative research can be susceptible to varying degrees of subjectivity depending on the format choice and the structure of open-ended discussions. The appropriate online toolset is the most important element in the information gathering process. There are a variety of helpful tips that can significantly improve the quality and utility of research results.
Choose Familiar Online Platforms
Choose platforms that are specifically designed for market research, especially those that replicate SM platforms like blogs and Facebook. Participants are generally familiar with formats that encourage open discussion in a comfortable setting. Opinions tend to be expressed in a style that is revealing and instructive.
Use Visually Stimulating Elements
Online qualitative market research should always be visually stimulating in order to compensate for the lack of personal interaction. Enhancing media elements with mark-up tools along with interesting videos, text and animations will improve the participant experience and provide more compelling data. When compared to text-based platforms, webcam interviews encourage interaction and provide a superior platform for probing and clarifying ideas.
Prior to the initiation of the research process, participants should clearly understand the format, procedures and expectations. Any group interactions encountered during synchronous or asynchronous projects should be addressed during the recruiting and organizational phase of the project.
Prior to designing the analysis and research plan, objectives and methods must be clearly defined and stated. A sound foundation will serve as a guide for choosing the appropriate techniques and methods employed during the qualitative research exercise.
Variety in Multiple Concepts
Testing multiple concepts simultaneously can become confusing to participants unless the differences are clearly defined. Enhancing the variations in stimuli can help improve results and provide more reliable directional feedback.
Online qualitative market research is convenient, flexible and has a much lower associated cost basis when compared to traditional market research techniques. It can be an effective method for concept testing, segment exploration, and conveying messages and ads. The medium is also a useful tool for testing the efficacy and usability of web content.
Jim Longo is the VP of Research Solutions at Discuss.io, a consumer-connection platform for market research. He brings over 25 years of domain expertise in the market research industry. Jim is considered a thought leader with regards to online behavior and market research technology. He has consulted with brands and research agencies around the world on how to have insightful online conversations and was instrumental in building the first global online qualitative research practice at Harris Interactive (acquired by Nielsen). There, he led a team that conducted more than one thousand online groups in the first three years of its existence.