How to Set and Meet Research Respondent Expectations

The data a researcher collects is only as strong as the number of qualified respondents in a market research study. With the willingness to participate in market research becoming more challenging, it is critical for researchers to understand the importance of setting and meeting expectations for those who partake in a market research study.

As a market research company specializing in a variety of services, we have seen the decline in attention spans and engagement among participants. How do we avoid causing irritation among research respondents? Setting clear objectives and guidelines around the research we are conducting.

This helps ensure a successful market research project, whether that be a short online survey or an hour long focus group. In this blog post, we'll discuss the importance of setting participant expectations and how to go about doing so.

how to set and meet research respondent expectations

Setting and meeting respondent expectations can help make the most out of any market research study. Learn how to provide clear objectives for maximum results.

Why is it important to set expectations for market research respondents?

For all types of market research, it is important to set expectations for respondents. This includes focus groups, in-depth interviews, online surveys, and more. Though, the level of participation required from respondents is different for each methodology.

First and foremost, respondents want to know what it is they are signing up for when participating in a research study. Regardless if you are recruiting for in-depth qualitative research or spreading awareness about an online survey, it is important to provide respondents with details around the study.

Details of the research may include:

  • Topic of the research
  • Number of questions asked
  • Approximate length of study
  • Incentive(s) to participate
  • Research objectives

Offering details of the research can be a double edge sword. Because respondents know they are being studied, they often try and provide the answers they think an interviewer or moderator want to hear. Providing too much information about why you are conducting this research could lead to participant bias.

Additionally, lack of clarity for expectations places more blame on market researchers than respondents if the data gathered is not as useful as expected. If market researchers are not clear about expectations before respondents participate, the quality of data may suffer. For example, respondents may drop off if the survey is too long or asks questions they do not feel comfortable answering.

Sharing initial research expectations such as stating how long the survey will take participants to complete or how many questions the survey includes will give potential respondents a better idea if they would like to participate or not.

How to set expectations for market research respondents?

Setting expectations for market research respondents does not have to be complicated. Consider ways to add more transparency before the engagement begins to ensure researchers and respondents are on the same page.

Setting expectations may look very different based on the approach and methodology of the market research study.

Employee survey example

If a market research company is conducting an employee survey on behalf of an organization there may be a pre-awareness email sent by a leader of the organization followed by a survey invitation.

The pre-awareness email establishes credibility for the study by sharing with employees to expect a survey invitation, the goals of the employee survey, and who the invite survey will be sent from. In this case, it is also important to share with your staff that their survey responses will remain confidential and anonymous, especially because the employee survey is being conducted by a third-party.

The survey invite lets employees know how long the survey takes to complete, provides a link to complete the survey, provides a date to complete the survey by, reiterates the goals of the study, and again confirms responses will be confidential and anonymous.

Online survey example

If a market research company is conducting an online survey the invite language should be customized based on the goals of the study.

Here is an example of survey invite language Drive Research used to encourage responses to our car dealership survey targeted to people who live in Central New York.

"Hey, Syracuse! Take 5 minutes to test your awareness of CNY car dealerships. Enter to win a grand prize of $250! We are also giving away $50 gift cards to 3 lucky survey takers. Ready? Set? Go: [survey link]."

This invite language achieves multiple goals. It establishes the intended audience, establishes the length of survey, and highlights the incentive for participating. Invite language may vary depending on how the invite is sent (e.g., social media, email, website popup, etc.)

In-depth interview or focus group example

Setting expectations for participating in an in-depth interview or focus group is similar. However, there are several different ways market research companies recruit for qualitative research (i.e., social media, phone calls, email, etc.)

Here is an example of the language Drive Research used on social media to encourage respondents to provide their contact information in order to schedule an in-depth interview.

"Hey, Syracuse! Are you a member of a bank or credit union? Take our short 10-question survey. If qualified, you will be contacted for a quick phone interview and earn a $50 Amazon gift card: [survey link]."

Similar to the previous examples, this invite language targets a specific audience, establishes a length for the survey and follow-up interview, and highlights the incentive for fully participating.

The general next step for qualitative recruitment is to call a participant to schedule a time of the interview or share when and where the focus group is taking place. The screening process helps ensure participants are fully qualified to participant, are committed to participate, understand how to fully participate, and confirm contact information.

Adding this step to recruiting for qualitative market research again validates what participants should expect by committing to this study.

Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a market research company in Syracuse, NY. Our team is equipped with market research pros who know best practices to help ensure market research projects are successful.

Want to learn more about our market research services? Here is how you can reach out to us!

Message us on our website
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