What is Online Qualitative Research?
Online qualitative research is simply a research method that involves collecting data about a person’s thoughts and attitudes towards a product or an area of research interest conducted online rather than face to face or via phone conversations. They include focus groups, individual depth interviews (IDIs), diaries, blogs, market research online communities (MROCs), ethnography, and other forms of qualitative research conducted online.
Online qualitative research approach offers some significant advantages in saving time and cost compared to other methods. It also provides greater convenience for participants, researchers, and even observers. Sourcing for participants can also be easily achieved via online sources such as organization’s databases, or panels, or surveys, rather than just traditional means.
How To Conduct Online Qualitative Research in 2021?
So, how do you go about conducting effective online qualitative research in 2021, especially if it is a new territory to you or your team?
The best way to always get ahead is to be equipped with the right tips. Whether you are looking at conducting a focus group, individual depth interviews, or market research online communities, these steps will help guide you on things to keep in mind before and during your online research quest.
- Have a clear idea of what data you want to collect and build your discussion guide accordingly.
Collecting data without clear objectives could be a wasted opportunity. This can easily occur, especially in an online situation, like a focus group where researchers can extract information from several consumers or employees. This is done by providing a comfortable environment for discussion. Effective focus groups can easily stimulate intelligent debate among participants, but if care is not taken, the researcher might not get factual information needed, as discussions might get exciting and have participants distracted.
- Create the right visual appeal
For an online qualitative study to make up for the lack of in-room feel, it needs to be visually stimulating, striking, and above all, engaging. Even though online participants can stay for as long as 60 to 90 minutes for live sessions like focus group discussions, it is still advisable to infuse simulations such as animations and videos to create less fatigue for your participants and enthusiastic feedback.
- Differentiate your variations.
As a researcher, there will be researches that will require that you test multiple concepts or stimuli. If this is required in your online research, make an extra effort to differentiate these variations. Not doing this might lead to obtaining meaningless feedback and a possible need to repeat the survey.
If you are working on a study that spans multiple discussions, do ensure that you accomplish 80% of the groundwork for all discussions in advance, and then use the data from each discussion to refine the remaining 20% for the next set of discussions.
- Have a clear idea about the type of analysis you would like to do.
Using SPSS or similar data analysis tools like market research platform to process raw data from an online study can be an easy task as well as a difficult task if questions are not structured to fit the analysis type you intend to use. Segmenting participants appropriately within a discussion, especially if it is qualitative research, will easily build filters.
- Determine your interview type
Semi-structured and structured interviews are usually the two major interview types. Before you proceed into the online space, you need to determine the interview type you wish to go with. Interviews can be conducted over meeting platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams to collect data at home or work.
Semi-structured interviews give room for participants to express their thorough thoughts on a subject matter. The advantage here is that participants can chip in information that you necessarily might not have thought of. The flip side is that discussions can easily go off course as it gets interesting, and participants might become distracted.
More formal platforms such as Discuss.io (a video-based research tool) give room for asynchronous data collection like a survey. So, they can be safely used for structured interviews.
Why would I choose to engage in Qualitative research vs. Quantitative research?
Qual and quant research methods complement each other and can both be very valuable. Quantitative research tools, such as surveys, provide quantifiable results that can be measured using mathematical techniques. The decision of which type of research to use depends on the type of information you are hoping to obtain. In general, if you are attempting to generate insights and hypotheses or answer questions which include: In what way?
Through what thought process? What is the connection between attitude and behavior? Qualitative research is most likely your answer. Quantitative research attempts to answer questions such as how many? And how much? In general, qualitative research generates rich, detailed and valid (process) data that contribute to in-depth understanding of the context.
Quantitative research generates reliable population based and generalizable data and is well suited to establishing cause-and-effect relationships. At times, quantitative and qualitative methods can be combined in the same study, and often, qualitative research will precede or follow quantitative research. Conducting qualitative research can be a lengthy process with recruitment, sessions, and content analysis, but with Discuss.io’s platform, this time is reduced dramatically.
Qualitative Market Research Software
As we all know, qualitative research software only really began picking up demand recently. Bandwidth capabilities, increasing net literacy, and a slew of other factors make such programs more attractive each year. More affordable than in-person qualitative methods, online options also make connecting with participants far simpler and faster.
Markets and their expectations are changing at increasingly fast rates. Even more intrinsically, traditional qualitative timelines are failing to keep pace with these changes. Goes without saying, qualitative marketing research proposals have changed over the past five years. Effectiveness and opportunity both suffer from the inefficiency. Today’s customers expect responsive, culturally relevant products and content. The quicker the better too, as leveraging recent headlines always helps grab attention. Going in blind, however, rarely offers the same return as accurate market appeal.
Online qualitative market research is custom-suited to today’s content and agile product development cycles. Speed and participant access are intrinsic to the process, as is simplifying logistics. As qualitative research data collection picks up pace, so can market analysis and calibration. Online qualitative is perfect for Agile development methods, as well as traditional development cycles.
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Ashley Wali is a product leader and startup veteran with experience leading high-growth teams and companies to new heights. She is currently VP of Product at Discuss.io. In a former life, she was a competitive figure skater, and in a future life, she’ll be a novelist. Ashley has been featured in publications such as Modus, Product Management Insider, ProductCoalition, Startup, and the Masters of Product Management podcast. She was also recognized in Alpha’s 2019 roundup of top product leaders. Ashley writes at https://medium.com/@ashleywali.