What is an Online Bulletin Board in Market Research?

Market research offerings are constantly evolving, which is great because innovation tends to lead to better insights.

With online resources becoming more advanced, easy to use, and accessible to participants, businesses are in a great spot to harness market research to make better decisions. 

Take online bulletin boards for example. It combines the in-depth feedback of qualitative market research while utilizing virtual resources to make accessing participants more accessible and cost-effective. 

Keep reading to learn more about online bulletin boards, their benefits, sample questions, and what results may look like.

What is an Online Bulletin Board?

A bulletin board is a methodology used for qualitative market research. As a reminder, qualitative market research aims to explore topics while the purpose of quantitative research is to measure. 

Definition of Online Bulletin Boards
An online bulletin board in market research works much like a private forum. It is a virtual tool or discussion thread allowing users to sign in, read postings, answer questions, share comments, post their own content, upload and download files.

Think of a bulletin board as a virtual focus group room with a massive bulletin board attached to the wall where participants walk in and out of the room and stop at the board to post questions, comments, and react to other content.

The participant walks out of the room online while others walk in and so on like a revolving door. 

A moderator is also present to monitor discussions, interjects when necessary, and poses new or follow-up questions.

While a trained moderator is semi-present to keep conversations flowing, not all participants will remain active and engaged.

This is because participants are only required to log in and respond within regular intervals such as 24 hours, 48 hours, etc.

As a result, our market research company recommends budgeting for additional participants to ensure you get enough data and feedback for your research report.

Online Bulletin Boards vs. Online Focus Groups: What's the Difference?

The difference between a bulletin board and an online focus group is users of the bulletin board do not have to all sign into the group together at the same time. 

Online Focus Groups

For an online focus group, participants are asked to join a virtual meeting at a specific time.

During this scheduled time, participants are asked to answer questions and discuss ideas with other participants in a live on-screen format.

For example, a focus group may ask participants to join a meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday for a 90-minute discussion with 5 other participants. 

Online Bulletin Boards

A bulletin board, however, may ask participants to log into a platform and interact with each other in a chat-like format.

This format may allow for participant-to-participant communication, sharing photos/videos/audio, review content, and interact with the moderator -- nearly every feature can be customized to the needs of the project.

The length of time needed to complete an online bulletin board can also greatly vary depending on the goals and objectives of the market research.

For example, participants may be asked to join an online bulletin board at various times such as:

  • 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday for 90-minutes
  • 30 minutes each day for a week
  • Whenever the participant wishes to log in and complete a task.

Benefits of Online Bulletin Boards in Market Research

Given that the format of bulletin boards can vary, they are advantageous for busier and thus hard-to-recruit respondents. 

They are perfect for those who may not have an hour or two to set aside to participate in a full discussion either at a focus group facility or online.

For example, bulletin boards are often used in scenarios where targeted respondents are hard-to-reach business-to-business professionals.

The bulletin board can allow users to pop in during a free lunch hour or after work at their convenience.

Other advantages to conducting an online bulletin board include:

  • Speaking to participants who are geographically dispersed across the country or world.
  • The study can span across time zones because the conversation is ongoing.
  • Enables respondents to share photos which can be helpful for certain objectives. 

Sample Questions to Include in a Bulletin Board Study

Below are a few examples of questions that could be posted on an online bulletin board.

The purpose of these examples is to give you a starting point to explore the possibilities of what could be discussed in a bulletin board. 

Example bulletin board questions include:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means all [insert industry] are the same and 5 means all [insert industry] are different, what rating best describes your thoughts? Select a rating and explain.
  2. Thinking about the [insert industry], what are some top-of-mind differentiators for you? Explain.
  3. Take a picture or video of how you typically use [insert product] and explain what you like and don’t like about it. 
  4. Go to the store to purchase [insert product] and explain your experience finding the product, thoughts on price point, and thoughts when you first used it. 
  5. Next, I’d like you to think creatively for this next activity. If you wrote a love letter to your [insert product], what would it say?. A few questions to consider: 
    • How did you first become aware of [insert product]?
    • When did you first buy [insert product]?
    • What was most appealing about [insert product]?
    • If you could change one thing about [insert product], what would it be?
    • Do you ever use other [insert product type] where you “cheat” on [insert product]?
    • How do you feel when you think about a different [insert product]?
    • What are some barriers to switching [insert product]>
    • Do you wish the relationship could continue?

Please note the instructions for an online bulletin board may vary.

For example, it could ask participants to respond to the question and respond to at least two other participants’ comments.

Another key piece here is the moderator, who will also be asking follow-up questions to participants as needed to meet the goals and objectives of the research.

Results of an Online Bulletin Board

After fieldwork for an online bulletin board is complete, the results can be compiled into a topline, executive summary, or a comprehensive report depending on your market research budget.

A topline report typically includes a 4 to 5-page bullet-point style deliverable in a Word document with only the key insights to tell a quick story. 

A comprehensive report includes detailed sections from each step of the market research.

The report consists of an executive summary/topline of critical themes, recommendations, and action items, an infographic (one-page graphical summary). 

Recommended Reading: Topline or Comprehensive Market Research Report: What's the Difference?

Conduct Online Bulletin Boards with Drive Research

Drive Research is a national marketing research company located in Upstate New York. Our team offers qualitative and quantitative research services to brands across the country and world.

Do you have questions about bulletin boards or how Drive Research can help you get the answers you need from those who matter most?

Contact us today!

  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

emily taylor about the author

Emily Taylor

As a Senior Research Analyst, Emily is approaching a decade of experience in the market research industry and loves to challenge the status quo. She is a certified VoC professional with a passion for storytelling.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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