Here are several approaches to recruit participants for a focus group. The relevance of FG results depends mainly on its participants and the moderator.
Before you start recruiting people, be sure who you want to target – the profile of your respondents and the structure of the group.
Your database or CRM
If you plan to ask your customers, your internal sources will be usually the easiest to recruit respondents. Remember that your customers have already built an attitude towards your company or products and have experience with your services.
(And always check that they have given you their permission to be contacted.)
Market research or fieldwork companies can use their online access panels to recruit the respondents. You can also conduct a screening study during recruitment.
External FG recruitment companies
There are specialists in focus group recruitment. They have a network of recruiters covering the whole country to help you find the requested participants.
Institutions from the target niche
Universities, industry associations, or directories can be a great source for relevant focus groups participants.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media can be useful in some cases. If you plan to conduct a business-to-business study, professional social media can be more suitable as they provide more accurate targeting options – LinkedIn, Xing, Ryze.
Choose relevant online portals or magazines your target group regularly visits and try to advertise here.
Consider your partners with a wide user base in the target niche (media houses, e-commerce projects, suppliers, mobile operators, etc.).
A PPC advertising on Google, Bing, Facebook, or other internet places can bring respondents too in specific cases. Expect lower conversion rates.
Geotargeting in market research
Mobile phone operators offer geographic campaigns so you can recruit people from specific areas using push notifications and SMS, sometimes also connected with their demographic profiles.
Cold emails, cold calls – not suitable as the success rate is very low and costs are usually very high.
Some recruiters also use the advertisement on job portals. In general, we don’t recommend these approaches.
Recruitment screener for focus groups
A screener is a questionnaire that checks that the respondent is suitable for your study. We recommend keeping it as simple and as short as possible. It usually includes socio-demographics, awareness or usage of a product, habits, role in the decision process, etc.
Eliminate professional respondents in focus groups
During the focus group recruitment process, ask potential participants about their experience with focus groups in the past. Some people are professional FG attendees and their opinions can be skewed from many past focus groups, you don’t want these respondents in your session. How to do it? You can add a simple question to the screener:
Have you taken part in a focus group in the last 6 months?
If they say yes, don’t invite them.
Recruit more respondents than you will need
Be aware that not all invited people will join your focus group – people forget, get stuck in traffic jams, get sick… That’s why it’s always better to invite 10-20% more people to have a reserve. When you need 8 people in the focus group, invite 10.
Rarely all invited people arrive – prepare what to do in this situation – will you take them as well, or will you ask them to leave with an incentive?