5 Top Tips for Participant Recruitment Best Practice

February 2, 2023

Participant recruitment for market research can be a tricky task, but it is one of the most critical steps in carrying out a study. Finding suitably qualified, reliable participants will ensure you can obtain high-quality, actionable insights from the research. So, what best practice can you implement to ensure your participant recruitment is set up for success?

Having provided this service for numerous global companies, we want to share our 5 top tips for participant recruitment best practice.

What is participant recruitment?

First, let’s take a brief look at what is meant by participant recruitment. Recruiting participants is the process of sourcing, screening and scheduling qualified individuals to take part in a market research engagement.

Typically, this study will be qualitative in nature and could take the form of a focus group, in-depth interview or product or concept testing. However, there are a multitude of other qualitative methodologies that can be used based on the research goal or objective.

This research can take place in-person, online or in the participant’s home if it is an independent usage test. When a higher volume of numerical or objective data is needed, quantitative recruitment (often in the form of online surveys) can be utilised in tandem or by itself to reach a more substantial number of research participants.

What methods are used to recruit participants?

Participants can be recruited from several places using various methods – a topic we will cover in more detail in later blogs.

In brief, some of the best sources for participant recruitment are:

  • Recruiting partners with existing communities, expert networks, and panels alike
  • Paid social media or search advertising
  • Existing platforms (such as linkedin), topic-specific groups/clubs, or relevant associations
video call

5 Top tips for best practice

1)      Have a clear and thorough understanding of the project criteria

Work with the stakeholder initiating the research to establish exactly who they require for the study and what the purpose for doing so is. Understanding key project details such as target market(s), goals or objectives, responsibilities and process and timelines are crucial in ensuring a smooth study.

The best practice is arranging a briefing call, where all stakeholders attend to share ideas and plans.

2)      Design a screener that is concise yet effective

A participant screener is used to verify if an individual is qualified based on the project criteria. Therefore, it needs to be designed with care.

While it must ask enough questions to decide whether the individual fulfils the requirements, it also mustn’t be too long. In today’s time-short climate, a lengthy screener will create higher difficulties during recruitment, and potentially cause the loss of valuable participants.

3)      Be clear on expectations

Make sure that potential participants are aware of the project expectations at an early stage. These expectations could include where the research will take place and whether they must travel. If so, can they claim expenses? When can participants expect the research to take place, and for roughly how long? Is there any preparation they need to do in advance or anything they should be aware of on the day?

The best practice is to provide potential participants with this information well in advance, allowing them to make arrangements or simply enquire further to avoid potential headaches throughout the field time. Similarly, if they decide the study is not for them and wish to pull out, you’ll still have enough time to find a replacement.

meeting, focus group

4)      Offer appropriate rewards or incentives

A reward or incentive to participate in a study can greatly impact the level of traction among a target audience. However, you should think carefully about the type of reward and how it matches the participants you are targeting.

For example, in many cases, a gift card or monetary incentive will work to generate interest. However, the value of that reward may differ depending on key screening criteria such as market, age, income, professional experience, etc.

Rewards should also reflect the amount of time, effort and expense required of the participant. A smaller incentive is acceptable for a short online interview while asking people to get on a train for a full-day focus session on the other side of the city will require much more!

5)      Cultivate relationships with the participants

Once you have enough suitable participants who qualify via the screener, the next challenge is ensuring they all turn up for the study. An effective way to promote high attendance is to constantly build on relationships with the participants.

Keep in touch with them during the lead-up to the project, slowly increasing the frequency of touch points as the time to participate grows closer. Depending on the research rules and regulations applicable, this communication could be via email, text or a phone call, where each time, you can remind them of key information and details of which to be aware, while showing appreciation for their role in the project and the wider impact it will have. Make sure they appreciate their importance in the project and its wider impact on benefiting others.

The more involved you keep participants, the more likely they are to be engaging and insightful during their participation in the study.

At Mission Translate, we have the resources and expertise to source, select and schedule high-quality participants that meet the criteria for your market research studies. If you’d like to know more, please get in touch with our team.

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Kandoy House, 2 Fairview Strand, Dublin 3, D03 R8P3

  • EU: +44 (0) 121 296 9870