It may seem like Market Research 101 all over again, but Bonnie Eisenfeld makes some great points in the current issue of Quirk’s about the importance of clear objectives when conducting online qualitative research (free registration required).
Online research software can help speed up the process, but that doesn’t mean you should rush through it–due diligence is still necessary to lead your project to success.
Here’s a roundup of some of her key points:
Limit your objectives: There’s no right answer to how many objectives an online qualitative research study should have, but a good gauge is time. “If an interview is too long, respondents will become fatigued, rush through their responses and/or terminate early,” Eisenfeld says. This also applies to an online focus group. Eisenfeld suggests prioritizing objectives and maybe omitting the less important ones.
Write objective-based questions: A common mistake researchers make is including questions that don’t meet any of the research objectives, which is prone to happening “when a questionnaire is heavily edited by multiple people within an organization,” she says. To avoid this mistake, Eisenfeld suggests heading each series of questions with the corresponding objective, and keeping those headers in place to help the online moderator.
Keep objectives top of mind: Research objectives aren’t just created in the beginning and met at the end. They need to be top of mind throughout the online qualitative research process. Use the objectives to guide your analysis plan, and write the report to meet the objectives.