I read an old Quirk’s article by Casey Sweet titled, ‘Anatomy of an online focus group’ and was surprised to see how the methodologies of online recruiting haven’t changed much from the 1999 publication.
Although the technology has improved, the challenges have remained the same. Participant recruitment was and still is the trickiest part hosting an online focus group discussion. A well-crafted screener and discussion guide will elicit the emotive responses from the right population subset, but to ensure success it needs people.
1990s recruitment and show-up challenges were met by more primitive means than now. Sweet mentions making phone call inquiries to obtain email addresses, cumbersome today – and the thought of making those calls (even with my Morgan Freeman-like voice) makes my vocal cords strain.
Larger panel companies have lists in the millions, and smaller companies target harder to reach populations. Modern technology allows a larger, more geodispersed, diverse group to sit in their own home and take part in the research discussions.
Contracting a panel vendor, screening, inviting, reminding, etc. haven’t changed in over a decade, but the way we recruit to ensure a successful turnout has become more efficient.