Don't just leap into online qual - do these five things first

Published 14 Apr 2021 2 minute read

Online qual
Online qual

You've got the go-ahead from your client and you are about to launch into an online qual project.

Stop a moment. Don't jump in headfirst.

Just like you wouldn’t start painting a room before you’d prepared the walls, there are some preparations that you need to make before you go live which will ensure you achieve some great results and happy clients.

If you follow these five steps, you’ll be better prepared to make the right choices and get better results.

#1. Ask why you are doing the research.

The fast pace and urgency of your clients' marketing demands mean you can quickly get thrust into a project mindset and just do what the client wants you to do. stakeholders. I can hear them now;  ‘we need focus groups’ or  ‘we just need a quick survey’ and off you go and start drafting some ideas without a second thought for the chosen method.

This is fine if you want to be a project manager, but as a researcher, you have so much more to offer your client. You are the consumer expert - thoughtful and analytical, curious and empathetic, and you are the conduit that is immersed in your customers' lives. 

Take a step back and look at the bigger picture.  Be the trusted advisor with a seat at the table where the decisions are made.

Ask yourself 'What is the business question to be answered?', and understand what business decisions the answers will support and how they fit with broader business strategy. Only then can you select the appropriate methodology based on all of these contexts as well as the budget and timescales.

#2. Challenge the research methodology and approach

If you’ve been asked for online focus groups because that’s what your stakeholders usually do, or if it’s a box-ticking exercise to get their campaign to the next stage, you can easily go down the wrong path, waste time and resource, or worse still, not answer the question at all!

In buying the time to question and challenge the brief, and better understanding why the business needs it done or the job-to-be-done, you can work with your research partners and colleagues to select the optimal approach and methodology.

#3. Think about research as an investment

You might just need a quick survey in answer to a clearly defined research question. Maybe it calls for a couple of focus groups to evaluate a new product concept. Both very simple and effective.

However, with your trusted advisor hat on you should consider whether you are likely to conduct the same style of research over and again. If so, it might be more cost and time effective to create an online research community. Once up and running, you can quickly respond to the businesses tactical research needs and support bigger strategic challenges more effectively.

On the flip side, if your stakeholders ask for an ongoing research community, you need to manage their expectation and outline the investment it requires. Keeping a research community firing on all cylinders, with engaged participants, with activities, news and bonus content over the long term involves a considerable commitment of time and resources.

#4. Plan the skills and resources needed

Check that you have the skills and resources available to conduct the research, or whether you need to bring in outside assistance (like us ;-). Ask this question about each stage of the qualitative research workflow – the setup and recruitment, the data and privacy requirements, moderating and running of the groups or community, and the analysis and reporting.

Don’t underestimate the resources needed to keep a longitudinal research community engaged and delivering the results your business needs.

#5. Carefully select a partner/supplier

To do this effectively you need to write a clear, concise brief that outlines what you want and need – we’ve got a template for that here. We also have resources that can help you to think about how to evaluate a supplier, and what to look for in a platform.

This table will help you think through the options you need to consider as you move through steps one to five, to prep for your online qual.

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