Online Focus Groups

Even in these times of social distancing and (partial) lockdowns, it’s important to sustain market research in order to understand how consumer behaviour has changed. Online focus groups and focus group transcription play an important role here. Engaging in a guided discussion of a topic is an ideal way to collect information about what’s on consumers’ minds. Unlike in the past where participants got together in a room for an in-person discussion, focus groups have moved online, expanding reach and flexibility.

Technological advancements have made it easier to conduct online interactions. Video chat conducted on platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Webex, Google Hangouts, and GoToMeeting are fast, easy and cost-effective. Compared to telephone or an online audio meeting, video can connect participants better and provide for a more personal experience. Moderators can control the flow of the video discussion just as in-person focus groups. Getting the recorded interactions documented by a digital transcription service provider will provide clarity on customer opinions and perceptions.

Here are six tips for conducting synchronous or virtual real-time focus groups:

  • Keep the group size small: Experts recommend having between 6 to 8 participants. Having less than 6 may not ensure a sufficient level of interaction to optimize results while a group of more than 8 may be difficult for the moderator to effectively manage.
  • Select the right participants: Choosing the right participants is crucial for the success of virtual real-time focus groups. You can distribute a participant screening survey via social media platforms or approach a professional recruitment company to source your participants. One important consideration for good results is to select people who will contribute openly and constructively.
  • Schedule the discussion at time convenient for all the participants: Timing would depend on the demographics and location of the participants. All participants should log in at the same time. Online focus groups can run for a defined period of about 90 minutes and it is generally found that the quality of the discussion tends to deteriorate after this period.
  • Ensure that participants familiarize themselves with using the technology: First, make sure that all participants have access to the meeting software, a webcam and an internet browser compatible with the technology. Next, make sure that they are knowledgeable about using the software. Today’s video conferencing platforms come with options for video, chat, virtual hand-raising, and other advanced features. Using all of these aspects may be necessary for effective participation.
  • Test the software and settings: Have your team check the equipment that you will be using. Address any potential participant login issues in advance. Make sure they can participate in a quiet space and consider asking them to use the mute button when they are not speaking. Ensure you can easily access any visual material that will be displayed during the discussion.
  • Moderate and facilitate the session: At the start of the session, the moderator should review the proper use of the video conferencing platform’s features and explain focus group etiquette. Make sure that everyone’s technology is working and conduct a practice run if needed. Online focus groups tend to have a slower pace to the conversation than in-person focus groups. To prevent participants from talking at once, ask them to use the virtual hand-raising feature when they want to say something.

Finally, capture the results and analyze them Once the focus group has concluded, download the transcript. Real-time recordings and reports are generated immediately. Hiring focus group transcription services can ensure well-formatted, accurate documentation that can be reviewed to summarize the findings and identify the key points of discussion. After analyzing the results, you can utilize the feedback to optimize your business.