Focus groups are a great way to bring consumers together to share insights on product or service offerings. While many people are familiar with focus groups examples conducted in-person, they can also be conducted online.
Video focus groups are becoming a popular way to conduct qualitative research discussions.
In fact, there are several advantages to conducting focus groups online including:
- Increased accessibility to participants
- Lower costs
- Quicker turnaround times
Tip 1: Leverage Familiar Video Conferencing Tools
Several top video-conferencing platforms (such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, or GoToMeeting) are familiar to many individuals and can be used to conduct a focus group discussion.
While there are platforms designed specifically for video focus groups that provide additional features to support your recruitment process, the research discussion, and the analysis, they aren’t a “must” for getting started.
The tool you ultimately decide on depends heavily on the goals of your qualitative research discussion and the comfort level your organization has with the technology.
Tip 2: Allow for Mobile Participants (with Specific Requirements)
Allow participants to connect via their smartphones. For the most part, smartphones are easily accessible to general consumers and a great tool for participating in video focus groups.
With that said, it’s important to provide some guidance for participants such as:
- Ensuring they have a strong connection (connect to WiFi if needed)
- Using headphones to prevent feedback
- Having the camera be stationary and placed on a desk/counter
Tip 3: Send Calendar Invites (Be Rigorous with Reminders)
We all live by our smartphones with notifications and alerts guiding us through the day. Our phones help direct us from one meeting to the next with the “bings” we hear 10-minutes prior to each event.
Calendar invitations are not just for the corporate world. Most consumer email platforms now automatically sync with the user’s calendar. These calendar invitations will help keep the video focus group top-of-mind and automatically remind the participant of the discussion.
The focus group psychology is to show the participant how important the session is.
Tip 4: Offer Documents and Allow Testing
It’s important to provide simple and straightforward support material to your participants. This will help set expectations and make first-time participants more comfortable. Providing a PDF with step-by-step instructions for logging in, an FAQ section, and troubleshooting tips can be valuable.
Additionally, when conducting video focus groups it’s important to provide participants with a test link, allowing them to confirm their software is up-to-date and test their microphone and camera ahead of the group discussions.
Tip 5: Ask Participants to Find a Private Space
One of the advantages of conducting in-person focus groups is that you have a captive audience, free from distractions. For video focus groups, it’s important to ask your participants to find a quiet space for the duration of the discussion.
This could be a private office, bedroom, or another space, as long as it’s not outside, a loud space, or the participant trying to complete the discussion on-the-go.
Participants should be asked if they’ll be able to find a private space for the discussion during phone screenings.
Tip 6: Budget Time for Technical Difficulties
It’s important to request participants log in 5 to 10 minutes early. Budgeting this additional time allows the participant and moderator to navigate last-minute technology issues (i.e. software updates, re-connecting a microphone, etc.).
This will ensure the moderator and participants can jump right into the research discussion without eating into the allotted time. This time is also spent laying out the focus group ground rules.
Tip 7: Find an Engaging Moderator & Call Participants by Name
Moderators have several techniques for building rapport and managing group discussions in-person. However, these techniques don’t completely translate to online group discussions.
For example, instead of pointing to a participant to call on them, when moderating focus groups, the facilitator should call people by name to guide the discussion.
“Jay - what do you think about that?”
“Susan, what do you think about Jay’s comment?”
These are direct focus group questions. This will keep the discussion moving and enable participant-to-participant engagement.
The bottom line here is it’s important to find a moderator who can build rapport quickly and is comfortable conducting video focus groups. Make sure you include these notes and tips in your focus group discussion guide.
Tip 8: Recruit fewer participants
For traditional in-person focus groups, most research firms recruit 8 to 12 participants. When you have more participants it is often difficult to hear feedback from everyone and it can sometimes be challenging when participants get excited and start to talk over one another.
This is especially the case with video focus groups. Recruiting 4 to 6 participants allows for a smooth discussion with a high level of engagement from each participant.
With too many participants you’ll quickly learn how chaotic it can get and learn several lessons on how not to facilitate a focus group.
Tip 9: Think 90-Minutes Instead of 60
Similar to a traditional focus group, a 75-to-90 minute session is really the sweet spot for the length of discussion. The first 10 or 15 minutes of the session is all about getting participants comfortable with the platform and comfortable sharing input with the group.
This leaves you with just over an hour to focus on your most important topics. However, once you reach the 90-minute mark participants will start to get fatigued and it’s a good time to conclude the discussion.
If you extend beyond 90-minutes it might be viewed as a focus group lecture among participants and interest will wane.
Tip 10: Pay Rewards Immediately
Incentives should be distributed immediately after the conclusion of the research discussion.
Research participants are typically paid at the end of an in-person interview or in-person focus group, and there’s no reason to not pay rewards at the end of the online video focus groups. The rewards can easily be sent out in the form of eGift cards (i.e. Visa, Amazon, etc.).
It’s incredibly important to treat your research participants well and reward them in a timely manner. Research cannot be conducted without them! Some of the best examples of focus groups in marketing are when participants are rewarded immediately.
Drive Research is a market research firm that works with organizations across the country. Our team has the experience and tools required to conduct video focus groups.
We hope these tips will prevent you from landing on a list of focus groups gone wrong. There are many focus group advantages and disadvantages, but these tips should help your organization.
Need help with a video focus group project? Contact us through any of the four ways below.
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