Online Focus Group

3 tools to revolutionise your online focus groups

Online focus groups have become more and more popular over recent years – and when you look at the benefits, it’s easy to see why: they are convenient for both researchers and participants alike, they are often cheaper than traditional focus groups, they eliminate the need for travel yet offer unbeatable geographical diversity as participants can take part from across the country and they don’t face the same restraints as traditional focus groups.

All that, and they still deliver high quality, in the moment insights. But how do you ensure your online focus group is a success? What software should you be using to ensure a smooth research experience that’s easy for both you and your participants? Read on to discover our top three online focus group tools that can allow you to host successful and insightful focus groups on a budget…

Google Hangouts

Firstly we have Google Hangouts, a communication platform that enables users to participate in text, voice or video chats either in a group or a one-to-one setting. Available for iOS and Android and compatible with most devices, Google Hangouts is an online platform that enables users to create instant webcasts and video recording. There’s even screen-sharing capabilities which enable moderators to show participants materials and gauge their response – and best of all, it’s completely free so is a great tool for businesses on a budget. Not only that, but Hangouts is great for clients too, as the session can be watched by selected viewers live on Google+.

There are a few limitations, though - because it is accessed via Google+, all participants must have a gmail account which means that you could end up limiting your sample. Or restricting non tech audiences such as those who aren’t familiar with the software and those that don’t have a strong enough internet connection or the right type of device. Although, it doesn’t take too long to set up a Gmail account and you could offer support to non-tech audiences who may find this challenging.

There’s also no tech support, so if anything goes wrong and your participants have any difficulties, you’re on your own. However, all in all, it’s a great online focus group tool for those who don’t have the budget and scale for a traditional focus group.

Online Focus Groups


Next up we have AdobeConnect, a web conferencing software service that offers immersive online meeting experiences – and with its heavy emphasis on collaboration, it’s a perfect online focus group tool. It provides instant access across a wide range of devices, so you can collaborate, host and present directly in front of mobile, iOS and Android devices as well as on a desktop without having to download anything.

One of the best things about AdobeConnect is the element of security it provides which means participants and moderators alike can securely send and store documents and notes – which means that your participants can share their thoughts, feelings and opinions without having to worry about privacy concerns. This level of security can be extremely important in some market research studies, especially ones that discuss sensitive information. For example, studies around health products or financial situations would need more of a secure online platform as it provides participants with confidence knowing that the information they provide is confidential.

Not only that, but AdobeConnect also makes life easier for researchers by offering recording and editing tools so you can easily analyse data as well as record, edit and republish the findings of the focus group which enables you to provide on-demand access. One thing to bear in mind, however, is that unlike Google Hangouts you do have to pay for Adobe Connect – but with so many helpful tools available, it’s definitely worth it.


Here at Angelfish Fieldwork, we offer our own platform for online focus groups using AdobeConnect called SubVision which will support your qual research from start to finish. SubVision provides cost effective, nationwide interviewing of participants which keeps them engaged throughout the research. Interested? Watch our demo video here.


Lastly, there’s Zoom, a type of web conference software that promises to offer a smooth and consistent experience for its users. It has full HD video and audio capability for any sized Zoom room and a number of collaboration features such as co-annotation and white boarding, which means you can easily engage with your online focus group and encourage them to share ideas with each other, too. Not only that, but it also has wireless sharing so users can access the platform via desktop or mobile device, which means that research can easily fit in around your respondents’ lives, making for great response rates.

Other handy tools available on Zoom include an attention indicator so that moderators can easily get the attention of participants, and the real bonus is that it also comes with tech support so if anything goes wrong at the last minute or if your participants are struggling to use the software, there will always be someone on hand to help and ensure things can continue to run smoothly.

If you are thinking of running an online focus group and want to find out how to recruit the best possible participants, download our guide today to find out more.

Qualitative Market Research