A market research study’s success is highly dependent on whether the research team could recruit the right people to participate in the online focus group. Respondent recruitment is key to an accurate and valid qualitative research. However, researchers may come across problems such as a limited pool of target consumers, or an extended time required for the online focus group. The best way to one can prepare for any online focus group respondent is to properly select the target respondents, and to make sure that the questionnaire given to potential research participants is designed to screen only qualified and articulate individuals. But respondent selection should only begin after agreeing on the relevant background and the objectives that researchers want to achieve. Usually, focus group respondents represent not a random group, but a highly specific group of people from a sample group targeted by the research. For example, gender, age groups, income, job description and educational attainment are often taken into consideration during the respondent recruitment.
Because online focus groups are not limited by geographical considerations, respondent recruitment may also be done online and this way, the respondents may be selected from the best possible distribution among areas, may it be rural, suburban, or urban, and even entire regions and countries.
One way of recruiting respondents for an online focus group is through purchased lists, email recruitment, or via phone, or an online survey, or a combination of approaches that your research may require. Potential respondents and participants may also be recruited via online ads or social networking sites. However, it is important to keep in mind the criteria and the preferred demographic mix needed for the accurate interpretation of results.
Moreover, if the reactions of participants is important for the research, as in webcam interviews, researchers must identify users who have the necessary devices, like webcams and microphones in order to ensure full participation during the research.
And lastly, the schedule, that is, the time and date when the online focus group will be conducted must be clearly stated. Especially for real time online focus groups, it will be advisable to remind the participants via email of the date and time of the online focus group. If the participants are from different states, it would be best to include the different time zones. The duration of the online focus group, whether an hour or more, must also be clearly stated.