Five Tips for Running a Successful Online Qualitative Study

Published On: May 20, 2018By

I’ve talked to many clients and researchers who’ve had either bad experiences with online qual or they’re nervous about trying the approach. “It’s overwhelming.” “There’s too much information.” “I don’t know where to start!

Online qual can be overwhelming at first and you will get a wealth of information, but when it’s approached it in the right way, you also get to hear and see priceless insights. You get to be right there with your consumer when they are thinking, feeling and doing. KNow Research and I have crafted an approach to make these studies seamless, digestible, engaging and insight-rich so you can reap the benefits of online qualitative.

Tip # 1: Develop Concise Objectives

First, it’s important to develop clear, simple learning objectives to help anchor the study. This is the foundational step that sets the stage for the rest of the research. It may seem basic, but everyone tends to get overly excited when they have access to their consumers for 3 or even, 5 days (I do too!). Many clients have a long list of questions and that’s completely understandable.   At this phase I like to ask my clients this question: “What are the 1-3 questions you really need answered?” Notice how I said need and not want. Just because it’s online research doesn’t mean we should throw in every question possible. Online and mobile platforms do allow us to get a ton of detail, but to get started and ensure quality responses, we need to focus.

Tip #2: Create an Engaging & Approachable Activity Guide

The next step is developing an activity guide that engages consumers, but doesn’t overwhelm them. Here at KNow, we group our questions into “activities” and space the activities out over 3-5 days (depending on the study). Each activity gets a name, a theme and a logical flow that takes the consumers through a set of questions and prompts. Can’t bear to lose a question? Make it a probe instead and the moderator can ask it as a follow-up question. That’s the beauty of online qual. We also infuse creativity into the activities to make it fun and engaging, but also uncover rich insights in new ways (e.g., Mad Libs, Beverage Diaries, Closet Safaris).

Tip #3: Build Rapport with Consumers

Once the activities are programmed and the study launches the action starts. On Day 1, our goal as moderators is to build rapport with the respondent. We are not passive moderators here at KNow. We ask thoughtful questions, use first names, we’re friendly and we’re real. Our participants start to trust us and share their feelings with us even on Day 1.

Tip #4: Deliver Real-time Insights

Another unique attribute about us here at KNow is that we deliver real-time insights for our clients while the study is in field. We flip between our moderator and analysis hats while the study is live. Then, we send our clients daily updates at the end of each field day with emerging insights. While it seems tricky, it gets easier with practice! This keeps our clients engaged and informed. This is a real game changer for everyone involved.

Tip #5: Answer Objectives & Provide Actionable Recommendations

While creating the report, we make sure to answer the main objectives outlined at the beginning of the project. We use imagery and video to illuminate the consumer voice. We distill the wealth of information into a media-rich document with key insights and actionable recommendations.  Clients can easily share this document with partners and team members to guide business and marketing decisions.

So, why not give online qual a chance (or a second chance)?

We KNow online studies. Contact us to learn more about our approach!