April of 2014 I worked with a client wanting to engage 15 men currently shopping for engagement rings to learn more about their shopping experience, online and in-store. The research was longitudinal, split up over 3 telephone interviews over 6 weeks with big tech requirements. The participants needed to initially install software on their phone and laptop that would allow the researcher to see their screen and learn from the types of searches they were doing, at what times, from home or after work, on the go using their mobile device or at home, etc (this also meant specific technical requirements besides profile reqs). I later learned (once the incentive was already suggested) that this meant they needed to schedule an initial call with the tech guys for 30 minutes to ensure the setup was working before ever getting on the first of three calls with the researcher.
The recruit criteria was so specific that of the 4,000+ that applied nationwide only 25 or so actually fit the rigid requirements. After screening there were only 16 submitted for the project to be considered for the research (while I normally like to submit at least 2 over in this case it wasn’t possible without sacrificing some of the profile specs). I was happy to identify these 16 needles in the haystack, I realized that our team needed to work hard to keep them. As stated above the technology piece to get involved was pretty rigorous and we ended up losing a few of the guys in this process because the incentive “wasn’t worth their time”. At this point I would suggest more incentive but we were working with a client that had a very tight budget so this was not a possibility.
In the end we decided to move forward with just the 14 since they were a stellar, spot on match for the project and they didn’t want to bend on requirements. Over the course of the next 6 weeks we had a few more that fell off which is natural attrition on a longitudinal study like this but in the end the client was pleased with the insights and learning’s.
Project insights in hindsight:
I would have understood the technology demands of the project so we would have compensated accordingly for this time getting ready for the interview.
I would recommend to keep profiles fairly simple or be prepared to be flexible on some of the requirements.
Lastly, for longitudinal projects especially, I would have a clear definition of work flow and how the participants are re-engaged if there will be a few weeks between calls.