How to engage non-tech savvy audiences in online qualitative research

Despite approximately 3 million people using the internet and having a familiarity with technology (especially millennials who often feel most comfortable online) there are some that feel less at ease with technology and the benefits it can provide. This audience can be defined as non-tech savvy. Whilst it may seem easier for the recruitment process to exclude this non-tech savvy audience from your market research, especially when it comes to online qualitative research such as market research online communities, including non-tech audiences can often provide a different perspective to that of a technologically savvy audience.

How is a non-tech savvy audience defined?

Non-tech savvy audiences often consist of people who don’t have regular access to technological devices or those who are aware of technology but don’t feel that it is essential to their lifestyle or needs, as well as those who only use technology for bare essentials such as keeping in touch with family and friends. Of course, recruiting for these non-tech savvy audiences and including them in online qualitative research can be pretty challenging – but don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for! Read on for our top tips on how to successfully engage non-tech savvy audience in your online qual research.

The benefits of a non-tech audience in online qual

Despite some of the barriers to recruiting non-tech savvy audiences, they can actually bring an important perspective to market research which could be worth the extra effort. An example of this is including non-tech savvy audiences within electronic or usability testing studies. As they are not regularly engaging with technology, they can provide a more objective opinion and may highlight flaws that the products tech savvy audiences may not pick up on.

How do I engage non-tech audiences for online qualitative research?

There are a number of ways that you can approach a non-tech savvy audience so that they feel comfortable and want to engage with you. Some pointers to bear in mind include:

1) Approach them in the right way

Be sure to consider who you are contacting when you first approach your audience. You’re not dealing with a tech audience, so emailing or texting participants is likely to result in lower response rates than contacting them through more traditional methods.

When you do make contact with your audience, be careful to keep the application and screening process as simple as possible. Ways to do this include:

  • Limiting the number of questions, they have to answer
  • Making the questions as specific as possible
  • Include yes/no questions

After all, online qualitative research might seem daunting to them, so it’s important to make your audience feel as comfortable as possible from the get go. By approaching them in a familiar way you can ensure they are at ease and feel comfortable taking part in the research.

Online qualitative research & non tech savvy audiences

2) Be realistic about how you recruit

This audience isn't regularly online which is why you need to ensure you allow extra time for your recruitment as well as investigate alternative ways to reach out to them. You can use methods such as:

  • Street Interception
  • Direct Mail
  • Telephone Recruitment
  • Local Advertising
  • Refer a Friend Schemes
  • Social Media (although not always active online, non-tech savvy audiences may still use social media channels)

3) Make sure you thoroughly validate participants

Once you’ve recruited your non-tech participants, it’s more important than ever to thoroughly validate them prior to the research taking place as they are less familiar with technology and could potentially encounter problems.

We’d recommend validating them well in advance and taking them through the process on the phone rather than just emailing instructions. You should also be sure to explain the software in full and give them contact phone numbers should they have any questions or problems, as well as making them aware that they can contact researchers at any time for technological support.

4) Help them on their way

In addition to this, help non-tech savvy audiences to understand more about the research by ensuring communication is clear and straight forward. This will help the audience feel more comfortable about taking part in online qual. Try the following when next recruiting this audience:

  • Offer an information sheet with all the info they’ll need about your online qual
  • Provide ‘how-to’ videos or demonstrations of how to participate in the online qual
  • Set up a forum or group with useful information and help and guidance regarding the online qual

5) Have a back up plan

Last but not least – make sure you’ve got a clear back up plan in place in case anything goes wrong. Unfortunately, even if you prepare for every eventuality, sometimes engaging a non-tech audience for online qualitative research just doesn’t work out. That’s why we always recommend an over-recruit: by ensuring you have over-recruits on hand, if anyone does struggle too much or drop out at the last moment, you can carry on without wasting too much time. Find out more about how to over-recruit for your research project here.

If you have been asked to engage a non-tech savvy audience for your online qual research project, why not have a read of our helpful guide to recruiting the very best participants – it could just make all the difference! 

Qualitative market research