7 Ways to Improve Show Rates For Your Qualitative Research


We’ve all been there.

Yes, even a qualitative recruitment company like Drive Research has struggled to find qualified participants to attend market research studies. Sure we’ve learned from past mistakes and with these mistakes we now understand what does and does not work.

With great qualitative recruitment experience, Drive Research was able to create a streamlined process for finding participants, even those who are hard to reach. Plus! This process helps with getting our dream participants to actually show up and engage with the market research.

So, what does this mean for you?

It can be extremely frustrating to work day in and day out to try and find a group of participants who meet your specific criteria (whether this is in relation to gender, race, age, etc.), then the day of the qualitative research study arrives and they’re nowhere to be found.

Our market research company, which specializes in finding participants for qualitative studies, is sharing four tips to help with your own recruitment.

This 60-second video will summarize four best practices for qualitative recruitment. For more information, read the blog below!

1. Pre-Screen Your Audience

If you are having a hard time finding qualified participants for qualitative research, take a step back and think about the method you are using to find participants in the first place. Are you using an online panel? Are you cold calling? Are you using social media?

To be honest, the days of cold calling participants are long over. It will take much longer to find the quality participants you need for a focus group, in-depth interviews, or other qualitative research methodologies.  

By pre-screening your audience through a survey, you are able to ask questions that will qualify or disqualify a potential participant. For example, if you need to conduct a focus group with young females who drive an SUV-style vehicle, a screener survey can ask questions in relation to age, gender, and what type of car they are currently driving.

2. Be Clear on the Requirements

Participants are more likely to follow through on all steps of the research project if they fully understand what is expected of them. Communicate the requirements clearly and often throughout recruitment. 

You can recap requirements at multiple points such as: 

  • Start of the pre-screener 
  • End of the pre-screener at the project invitation 
  • Start of the re-screening call 
  • Recap at the end of the re-screening call 
  • In the email confirmation 
  • In reminder communications

By providing participants with a clear outline of the project, participants will understand what they are signing up for before they have committed to the project. 

When providing all requirements in a confirmation email, participants are able to use that as a checklist to guarantee they do not miss anything. 

Think of it this way: if you’re supplying participants with the requirements repeatedly, you’re giving them every tool to follow through.

3. Provide Participants with a Single Point-of-Contact

Make sure participants know who to contact if they have questions. The point of contact should be well-informed about the project to address any concerns or questions they may have. 

Some recruitment companies may provide participants with a 1-800 number with a code word or project number to refer to if they have an issue. 

This can lead to frustration or apprehension on the participant end because they are reaching a new person who is involved in multiple projects every time they reach out.

At Drive Research, we employ the opposite approach and work to build a mini-relationship with each participant throughout the project. Each participant is given a single point-of-contact who is knowledgeable and available to answer any questions they may have. 

This creates a far better experience for the participant. 

2. Be Knowledgeable 

Before you place your first call to participants, make sure you understand the entire project. If a participant has a question, you should be prepared to answer. 

The strength of qualitative research will be based on the answers that you receive, and solid answers are backed up by solid knowledge. 

Be helpful and always attempt to answer the participant’s question. If you are asked a question you can’t answer, let them know you are looking into it and will get back to them as soon as possible. 

3. Follow-Through

If a participant is waiting on information from you, get back to them as soon as possible. Sometimes we can’t find an immediate answer or a solution, and that’s okay. 

With qualitative research methods, it’s best to check in with the participant to let them know you are still working on it. 

This tells the participant that they are still a priority and avoids frustration by participants feeling ignored. Not only will your transparency keep negative feelings away, but it’ll also establish a sense of trust between you and your participants.

4. Communicate Often, and in Multiple Ways

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no such thing as too much communication in market research!. 

Change is inevitable, even in market research–that’s why we love communication so much! 

By checking in with participants often you keep the line of communication open and any issues they may be experiencing can be addressed. This is one of the key (and super important) characteristics of qualitative research

Don’t stick to only one method. Communicate in multiple forms such as text, email, and phone calls. This gives participants the ability to reach out to you in the way they are most comfortable if they have a question or concern.

Leading up to every step of the research project, a reminder should be given. 

5. Implement a Process for Confirming Participants

Our qualitative recruitment firm doesn’t only rely on screening surveys, but follow-up phone calls to rescreen potential research participants. This allows our team to have potential participants expand on their answers and acts as a gut check that their answers from the online survey were truthful.

After making a phone call to rescreen participants, it is helpful to send a confirmation email or calendar invitation where the person has to physically click “Yes” or “No” for an RSVP. This assures the participant will have the time of the qualitative research blocked on their calendar so as not to forget to show up.

If a participant does not confirm whether they are or are not planning to attend the research, this is a BIG red flag that they will likely bail on attending the qualitative study.

6. Send Reminders

The process of confirming qualitative research participants is not over just yet. In the days leading up to the qualitative research study, use two different forms of confirmation methods to remind people about their participation.

Typically, when recruiting for qualitative research, our market research company in New York calls our participants two days prior and sends a reminder text on the day of the study. The obvious benefit here is that all participants have been reminded in the form of email, phone, and text. However, an added bonus is if a participant cancels during one of these reminders.

Instead of bailing on the qualitative research altogether, a participant will likely text back that they will not be attending once they receive the confirmation text. This gives you time to find a backup participant.

Pro Tip! Always over recruit for qualitative research.

Sometimes, last-minute things come up and participants have to cancel. It is easier to have a pool of pre-qualified participants ready to attend than to start the recruitment process all over again.

7. Develop a Rapport

All of these confirmation stages go into building a rapport with qualitative research participants. By now, participants have spoken with a recruiter many times. They have built a mini relationship and, in our experience, feel as though they are letting the market research firm down if they cancel at the last minute or don’t show at all.

It may seem silly, but it helps increase participation rates for qualitative research.

Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a national market research company located in New York. Our team has the knowledge and tools to recruit participants for qualitative research, cost-effectively. 

Interested in receiving a proposal or estimate for our qualitative recruitment services? Reach out through any of the four ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

Author Bio George Kuhn

George Kuhn

George is the Owner & President of Drive Research. He has consulted for hundreds of regional, national, and global organizations over the past 15 years. He is a CX-certified VoC professional with a focus on innovation and new product management.

Learn more about George, here.

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Qualitative Recruiting