Asynchronous vs Real Time Online Qualitative Research - Insight Platforms

Asynchronous vs Real Time Online Qualitative Research

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A version of this article previously appeared on the Recollective blog

Faced with the choice between asynchronous online qualitative research (lasting days, weeks or months) and real time text-based focus groups, which should you use?

Both methodologies present their own distinct advantages and when deployed together, achieve a unique synergy.

Advantages of Asynchronous Online Qualitative

1. Let participants take part when they want to

Happier, more productive respondents!

You can reasonably expect attention spans to be about 20 – 25 minutes, so why push the limit? Give your participants a break and get the most out of every visit. Asynchronous approaches let you split your discussion guides into manageable pieces.

People are busy! And this is often most true of the hardest audiences to reach such as entrepreneurs or business professionals. Rather than forcing everyone to engage at a set time, let respondents login when it suits their schedule so that they can give your research the attention it deserves.

This convenience isn’t just for participants, the same goes for study administrators and client observers. Login to track responses, post follow-up questions and engage with the findings as they roll in, whenever and wherever.

2. Be more flexible in your research design

Asynchronous approaches allow you to delve deeper into the intricacies of your audience at any time, promote brand reciprocity and go live faster.

Build your whole study ahead of time or explore where the responses take you by programming as you go. By being able to adjust upcoming activities on-the-fly, you’re better able to take full advantage of your participants’ earlier contributions. Design methodologies that evolve based on the research as it happens.

Demonstrate to your participants that their voices are being heard by integrating their contributions into future activities.

Go live quickly. You can get started with a single activity to get your participants going, and take care of the rest as it comes. An asynchronous approach means that you only need the first step in place to move forward.

3. Decode the influence participants have on each other 

With asynchronous approaches, you can choose to show or hide participants’ responses from the wider group – until everyone has posted.

Control what is and is not made social to understand how popular opinion and opposing views change your respondents’ perspectives.

Advantages of Real Time Online Qualitative

1. Capture in-the-moment responses

‘Live’ online groups help you capture top-of-mind sentiment from all or a subset of your participants.

Present your participants with an array of stimuli and receive a response the second it pops into their head.

Prepare your content ahead of time and release it as the conversation progresses or improvise and probe as the focus shifts to unexpected, intriguing new territory.

2. Work at speed

Truly rapid research is possible with no participant travel required; just log in and get to work.

Schedule your groups in advance and bring people together from anywhere in the world. Geography is no longer an obstacle, but an opportunity.

3. Embrace spontaneity

Watch as spontaneous participant collaboration uncovers unexplored new ideas and help guide them to uncover new, unexpected insights together.

Combining Asynchronous and Real Time Approaches

With the right level of advance planning, you can also bring these two approaches together.

Use asynchronous activities to establish a base of information and identify the themes and ideas that would benefit from more attention in a live context.

Improve attendance rates by getting everyone on-board and comfortable with a few asynchronous activities first, making it easier for participants to log in and take part at in subsequent real time activities.

Use asynchronous public or private follow up comments after the real time chat room is complete to deepen understanding of insights captured during the live discussion.

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