How We More Than Doubled Response Rates for Qualitative Research Recruitment

 In Methods, Projects, Thought

Many of our biggest challenges as researchers relate to recruiting qualified participants to participate in our research projects. Like many researchers, we see low response rates on emails inviting people to participate in a project. This is a challenge whether we are using a client-provided list, blasting from a purchased list, or completing a convenience recruit with personal contacts.

We are always looking for a wide panel of participants who we can screen for the needed demographic and experiential characteristics. The more people we get in the funnel, the better our final recruit. As qualitative researchers we engage with a small number of people and learn about their beliefs, desires, and experiences. Making sure we have the right participant is critical to a successful project.

We recently found a solution that helped us increase initial response rates to improve the quality of our recruiting and research projects.

In the past, we would send out an email inviting participation in our research project, often using a client-provided list of customers. Some were current and some were former, but all had a relationship with the service, product, or industry. We would ask recipients to click on a weblink to participate in our survey/screener. Results varied, but we rarely experienced more than the 10-15% response rates associated with an external survey.

For a recent project for a client in the financial sector, we used a client-provided list and changed our approach. We still sent an email introducing our firm, referencing their previous or current experience with our client’s service, referencing our research stipend and inviting them to participate. But instead of asking them to click on a link we asked them to answer one question – in this case, to elicit the Net Promoter Score:

Answering the question, the participants were taken to an invitation to let us learn more about their experience in less than five minutes. Their Net Promoter Score was already filled in.

We sent the initial link to two separate groups of recruits – current and lapsed users of our client’s service – and experienced return rates in the 30-40% range typically associated with an internal, employee-facing survey. This high response rate got us the right participants for our series of online, in-depth interviews. We were able to complete the project ahead of schedule because our recruiting took less time than expected.

We can’t guarantee that we’ll always see 30-40% percent return rates, but we’ll keep adjusting our recruiting methodology in our search for ways to get closer to our participants – and to find them more quickly and easily. Contact us to learn how we can support your qualitative research needs and consumer insights.

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