Companies conduct focus groups in order to gather opinions, reactions and perceptions from customers about a product, service or advertisement. It can become a very powerful research tool because the results of study can help provide a deeper understanding of human behavior.
Online focus groups are a new type of marketing research study which many companies are trying out as the internet makes it possible to connect various people from different locations at the same time. However, if one chooses to conduct an online focus group, it is essential to plan it properly to maximize the results.
First of all, the respondents must be carefully selected. In any type of marketing research, including online focus groups, the respondents to be recruited must fit the description of the company’s target market. This will ensure the validity of the information collected. The questions to be used when screening respondents will guarantee that only the right people will participate.
The proper equipment must be set up before conducting this type of research method. The participants may be connected through a website, forum or conferencing software. The moderator asks questions, and the respondents give their answers. It is also a common misconception that reactions and interactions are limited when conducting online focus groups, but utilizing webcams can easily fix this. Webcam marketing research studies makes it possible to record the facial expressions and reactions of respondents while they answer questions or interact with the other respondents, further enriching the research analysis. In other words, the addition of a webcam in an online focus group enables the researchers to also collect this type of data, including audio and visual cues of all the respondents as they accomplish the tasks given to them or answer questions and interact with the rest of the group. Webcam focus groups are a good substitute to face-to-face group sessions.
Moderating the online study is easy, because one can just throw a question at the respondents with a simple mouse-click. However, it is a requirement that a moderator must be able to type fast in order to manage the group discussion, or if not, have an assistant who will support the moderator. The moderator will not only be facilitating the dialogue, he or she will also be reading and evaluating the responses, entering questions, and possibly be dealing with potential technical issues at the same time. The proper combination of good ethics and marketing research software support will ensure your projects success.