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5 tips and tricks for expert respondent validation in online qual

As an online qual researcher, you need to validate your selected recruits to make sure they’re the correct demographic for your market research online community or online focus group. Someone might seem like the perfect candidate on paper, but validation gives you an opportunity to get more information and ensure that the first impression was the right one. For an effective study, your participants need to be reliable, easy to work with, flexible, and meet the necessary criteria. All it takes is a quick phone call or a mini-interview process to ensure you’ve found a great participant. Here are some tips to help you validate them:

Pre-qualify respondents using a self-complete questionnaire

If you want accurate information from the get-go, it’s important to pre-qualify respondents. It will only take between two to five minutes and it will save you a lot of time in the long-run. Researchers can build a pre-qualifying questionnaire that can be completed online by respondents, with a few questions that will narrow down the selection of people. The types of questions that are included are age, location, gender, job title etc as well are more study specific questions to understand more about their behaviour specifically relating to your product or service in question. By including these types of questions you’ll be able to take forward only the strongest participants for your research as you’ll have a good mix of both demographics and behaviour profiles - meaning only the truly eligible will qualify.

Get on the phone!

After qualifying respondents, speak to them on the phone. Although this enables participants to speak freely and go into more depth about their answers, you should try following a qualifying questionnaire. This will ensure that you cover the key areas of the discussion whilst encouraging free-flowing discussion. Using a qualifying questionnaire will help you build rapport with respondents making them feel more comfortable with you.

If they feel comfortable, they will start to open up to you and you’ll have a higher chance of getting accurate, honest, information. This tactic will also save both you and the participants’ time.

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Ask them for an ID

An easy way to make sure your participants are who they say they are is to ask them to send a picture of their ID. If the requirement for your online qual is that they own a specific product, ask them to send a picture with the product. This will further validate participants and increase the credibility and validity of your online qual.

Put an exclusion list in place

In order to get participants most suited for your study, put an exclusion list in place. This will help prevent you from seeing those that regularly take part in market research or candidates that don’t fit the demographic you’re looking for. It’s important that you ask the exclusion questions early to filter out unsuitable candidates as quickly as possible. This will ensure that only the most likely candidates go through all of the questions.

Don’t ask leading questions

Asking the right questions is one of the best ways to ensure that you are speaking to the right people. Instead of asking leading questions, ask questions without giving options or the obvious answer to potential participants. This will make it harder for them to determine the elimination criteria. For example, when asked “Do you work for a competitor company?”, any candidate will know the "correct" answer and may lie to get selected. Avoid this by asking questions like "Where do you work?" or "Tell me about your job".

By putting more effort into recruiting the right people, you’ll get higher-quality responses in a more time-efficient manner. If you want to know more about managing your online qual recruitment, download our guide how to recruit awesome participants for your online qual...

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