Myths abound when it comes to online qualitative approaches. Unfortunately, many of these myths are preventing market researchers from taking advantages of highly effective methodologies, and hampering the quality of the output you can deliver to clients.
Market researchers are busy people, which makes it difficult to find the time to experiment with new methods. And rapid advances in technology always give people pause.
While it is okay to be cautious about new technologies, you have to be careful to separate fact from fiction. These tools are revolutionizing our industry, and can deliver exceptional results for clients.
A WORD OF CAUTION: These “myths” may actually be reality among certain online research tools. It is up to you to do your own research to select a platform that can remove these obstacles to online qualitative research.
Here are five top myths regarding online qualitative research, and the reasons why they just don’t hold up:
Myth #1: It’s only for techies.
Not all software is designed for tech-minded users. While a plethora of online community software exists, some are designed to be easy to use for both moderators and participants alike.
These platforms are usually designed to mimic a social media aesthetic. Selecting this type of software should make using this online qualitative research tool a breeze for all involved, as the platform may be second nature to people active on Facebook and Twitter.
However, it is possible to have a sub-par experience, even if you choose well-developed, easy-to-use software. While a technology company may sell a product that is technically sound, it may miss the mark for what a moderator needs to get his or her job done.
It is key to choose a platform with a support team familiar with online qualitative research that is frequently available to respond to your questions and inquiries.
Myth #2: It’s cost-prohibitive.
Because online research is done remotely, using communities cuts the time, hassle and expenses that accompany travel. This means you can conduct research over a wider geographical area.
If anything, this type of research may be more cost-effective.
Myth #3: You need an entire IT department.
There should not be programming required to set up an online community. In fact, some software allows you to set up the look and feel of your community in no more than five minutes. (This requirement is something to check with the vendor.)
Myth #4: It’s not worth your time.
Because online communities are easy to use, accessible (from a cost standpoint), and flexible, they are a great way to become acquainted with online research without being too overwhelmed.
Don’t forget that online communities are ongoing discussions — moderators and participants are interacting for a stretch of time, unlike a focus group, which is usually a one-time deal.
This means that if you are new to online communities, there is time for you to test different feels and strategies to determine what features and methods work best for you.
Remember, your clients are looking to you to present them with online solutions, especially because online research can save them money and offer different benefits from traditional in-person research.
It will always be a transition when you try something new, but communities can make the leap to online research much less frightening.
Myth #5: You’ll lose insight.
Are you afraid that by choosing online communities over focus groups, you sacrifice the benefits of face-to-face research?
There are certainly times when face-to-face research is the best, if not only, option. However, online communities can provide exceptional insights as well.
People actually tend to be more engaged and communicative in an online setting than in a focus group or shadowing. In fact, moderators using communities are digging deeper into their research than ever before.
Read here about how online communities can further improve your research.
For many successful moderators with established methodologies, these myths can make online communities seem like a scary thing. Truth be told, if you don’t select the right software, you may find these myths are all too real.
Make the right choice, however, and you open up a world of opportunity – and exceptional insights – for your clients.
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