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ENGAGE Research Participants: Tips for a Better User Experience

By: Cait Wilson, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Utah

Research participants are essential to the market research and insights industry; the data companies use to make informed business decisions would not exist without consumers input. Therefore, creating a positive research experience for participants is critical to engage consumers and motivate them to participate.

Unfortunately, market researchers often offer research participants bad user experiences. For example, people frequently complain about having to fill out long, repetitive surveys that are hard to understand and answer. As a result, participants are likely to think poorly about the brand associated with the research and don’t participate in research again. A solution was needed…

GRBN in partnership with more than 30 market research organizations recently conducted extensive research on what makes a good user experience. As a result, a handbook was created called “ENGAGE: 101 Tips to Improve the Research Participant User Experience” and was released this week. The tips are focused on improving user experiences in four key areas of research: online communities, online surveys, passive metering, and qualitative research. One useful tip from each area of research is discussed below.

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Online Communities: Mobile First When Designing Activities

Today’s customers decide whether to participate in research or not. It’s important user experiences in online communities are as convenient as possible. This means offering activities in online communities that can be accessed on devices consumers use most. Half of customers favor using their mobile devices or tablets when participating in online communities. So, it’s important to design and program activities that can be easily accessed on devices with smaller screens (e.g., mobile phones). 

Online Surveys: Share Back

GRBN conducted A/B survey testing (i.e., comparing user experiences across a variety of survey designs). The results show market researchers can add an extra two to three minutes to a survey by adding attitudinal questions that are of interest to survey-takers. Satisfaction with the user experience increases and you don’t even have to offer additional incentives to complete the survey. Then share back the data (in aggregate form), to show participants how other people with similar demographics answered the same questions.

Passive Metering: Easy Installation Flow

Passive metering (i.e., unobtrusively recording consumers digital behavior with installed software) should be made as easy as possible for participants. Ideally, there should be a one-click installation process where participants can install the software on all of their devices (e.g., mobile phone, computer, and tablet). All unnecessary technical details should be excluded from the process. When activated, the software should run continuously with no problems until the participant uninstalls the software. 

Qualitative Research: Consider In-Situ

Offer more opportunities for research participants to do in-situ interviews (i.e., interviews conducted on-site). Participants enjoy doing in-store and in-home interviews because they are more convenient, exciting, and easier for participants to get to. Market researchers are able to see participants interacting with the real-world environment and on-site interviews provide a setting that allows participants to more authentically talk about the product or category.

These tips for online communities, online surveys, passive metering, and qualitative research can be used to help improve research participants user experiences. Consider trying the tips mentioned above in your own research. Want more tips? You can access the handbook here for 101 useful tips to improve user experiences, it’s free to download! Be sure to tell GRBN what you think about the handbook and the impact the tips have had on your market and consumer research.

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