I was lucky enough to catch a talk given by Elaine Ann of Kaizor Innovation (http://www.kaizor.com). I Wanted to pass along her top 10 tips of design research methods and in China.
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When launching a recruit, it’s critical to send it at the right time, whether it’s a post to the general public or an email to your database.
Try promoting your recruiting campaign at the beginning of the week. This is when people are fresh from the weekend, so they’re more apt to pay attention to your ad or email. As the week goes on we get caught up in work email and plans with friends or family. Research opportunities will get lost in shuffle.
Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday tend to be the most effective days for getting a response. So if you haven’t launched your campaign early in the week, you’re better off waiting until the following week. But if you do launch on Thursday or Friday, consider resending or re-posting first thing Monday morning.
And with the holidays upon us, recruiting can become even more challenging. Less people apply for research, and getting them to engage can be nearly impossible the week of the actual day of the holiday (also increase in no-shows during this time). You may even notice things slowing down the week before.
If you’re planning research around the holidays, be sure to add an extra week to your efforts. You will have little to no traction getting people on the phone while they’re shopping and going to parties.
For maximum results, launch the week before the holiday (to get people applying or get it on their radar), take the holiday week off, and then follow up the week after with applicants. Finally, plan on being in field the fourth week from the launch of the recruit.
I suggest two weeks of actual recruit time (from the time you launch) to allow a recruiter time to find the best possible participants. Some recruits are possible in one week, but you tend to sacrifice quality in the scramble to get the right people.
During the holidays or for medical recruits, I advise adding one week for your recruiter to allow for the increasing challenges around these times/profiles. Also add more time for B2B, elderly or wealthy profiles, as these sectors can be challenging to engage. Just like a hosting a holiday party, the planning will pay off.
Researchers often have a rigid set of profiles or personas in mind that they would like to meet with that don’t allow space for some of the more interesting things that come up in the recruiting process.
I worked with a client one time on an end of life project, exploring everything from financial planning to where they would be laid to rest. They were interested in meeting with 12 people ultimately and decided to be very specific about 10 of the profiles and leave the other two open for discovery, i.e. anything interesting that came up during the course of the recruit.
Many times there are extreme profiles that surface and if the profiles are too structured it doesn’t allow consideration for some people that can yield interesting perspectives and insights. In this case the team ended up meeting with Care Consultant (who knew this existed?) that took on a full range of services for her clients on this subject matter, working with them to design their end of life and a retired project manager that has entitled this their “death project”.
Like many recruiters, I rely on many resources. I strategize as to the best places to post given the parameters of the recruit. The key factors include length of time I am given to recruit and the types of people/profiles my client is seeking.
Community boards: If the recruit is quick and dirty, the fastest way to get responses are from using things like Craigslist or TaskRabbit or the like. These resources can be tricky to mine because it is where many “pros” prowl, applying for everything and often lying, even having multiple email addresses and aliases.
Recruiters, when using this as a resource, often see the serial respondents and avoid them (many of us keep a liars list). There are strategies in survey creation that can help you avoid liars: Do not ask leading questions, ask open ended questions and build in every possible answer (especially the ones that disqualify them). There are strategies to make these tools work for you and useful.
Blogs and groups (i.e. yahoo, Google +, etc.): If we have time to be more methodical than reaching out to targeted groups is typically the best. With permission from the owner of a group some places will actually post to their blogs, yahoo group, google group, etc.
You can find a group in existence for almost any topic, sometimes it’s as simple as emailing the moderator and asking them to ping the group. If they aren’t open to posting to the group perhaps you could offer incentive if they will reach out to people in their group in a more targeted way that they know fit the research.
Friends and family: Used sparingly, these can be somewhat fruitful. While friends and family is a great resource I find that it doesn’t yield a ton of applicants. Surprisingly even something as simple as a yogurt recruit gets very little traction in a recruit through this source.
I tend to be choosey in how I tap into or use this group often times posting only maybe one out of every 15 recruits I have on my plate because this is a resource that you don’t want to overuse. I, oftentimes, will use this for my hard to recruit things or things that may be a “different” subject matter because I find they get more attention. It depends on your network but I find mine responds the most when they feel challenged to find something “interesting. Regular recruits like food habits, technology habits, etc. are best suited for other lists.
Targeted recruiting:. Recently I was recruiting people that have smartwatches so I reached directly out to all my IT friends and all those that I know are gadget heads to see if they know people in their group. Its always nice, if you use this route, to send them a thank you gift card if they connect you with people. Something as simple as a $25 gift card can go along way to them wanting to help on future postings, even as small as $5 can go along way to say thanks, I appreciate it. The amount of the gift card varies depending on the level of difficulty of the recruit in my opinion.
Online Panels: One strategy to employ here is create a survey and have 100 people apply, from those responses pull your top 20 responses of interest, call to screen them further and conduct in person sessions with those that really stand out as the most interesting fit for the research. This route can take time and be costly so use this on the “right” project. It’s a great hybrid recruit though for the right project that allows you to learn something from all those survey responses at the same time.
When using this route make your intentions clear (always do this anyway) but in this case build in a question in the beginning asking if they would be open to an in person interview down the road if they are selected. Making this a simple yes or no question will allow you to disqualify those that would not be open to this as a possibility down the road and there are a lot of people on online panels who are not open to in person engagements.
Posting flyers in targeted places: This route is great if you have time to allow it to work because recruits can trickle in at a slow pace. Profiles should be fairly simple when using this route because getting to more nuanced things can be tricky. Having a template ready to type up and get out is helpful and knowing the places to post that will actually yield some results.
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.