Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Online focus groups are fantastic for any business. They are a powerful tool you can use to understand how people receive your service(s). To run a focus group efficiently, be clear about the top 8-10 things you want to know from participants.
Respect attendees' time by preparing questions ahead of time. You should also limit your meeting to about an hour.
Structuring Your Questions
Start your questions with "how," "what," or "why" to get focus group attendees talking. Follow each question with a question that aims to take the initial inquiry a step deeper. You can say something as simple as, "please, tell me more."
Make sure you only ask one question at a time. Don't ask two questions in one question. A sign that you are asking two questions at the same time is the use of the word "and" in your question. For example, a question you shouldn't ask would be the following:
"What do you eat and drink when you go to an Italian restaurant?"
What do you eat when you go to an Italian restaurant? (AND THEN)
What do you drink when you go to an Italian restaurant?
With this said, be sure to ask questions about your attendees' buying motives and brand perceptions. This would include feedback on any marketing you're doing. The focus group is your opportunity to make the best use of a captive audience.
Just know that you may need to run your focus group a few times with different people. When you start the hear similar answers in group sessions, you can stop.
Selecting Online Focus Group Participants
As for online focus group attendees, you should select people who fit your ideal client profile. For example, if you are a lawyer for small businesses, interview 10+ small business owners.
Now, if you don't know anyone, tap your family members and friends. Don't overlook them because they're close to you. I've gotten some of the best insights from honest conversations with my inner circle. People in your network can also be great for your focus group.
Incentives for Participants
For some, getting focus group participants without offering an incentive can be a real challenge. If this is the case, think about offering an incentive to those who participate. Incentives can range from a complimentary service to a gift card.
Moderating Focus Groups
With your attendees secured, you have to prepare to moderate your focus group. Make sure you formalize how you approach them and where you bring them together. An online video chat would be a great place.
Make sure you record the meeting to replay and analyze later. Be sure to introduce yourself and let people know you'll be recording them. Let them know that responses will remain anonymous and collected only for research.
Then, it's your responsibility to set the mood and expectations for your online focus group. It is also your job, during your focus group, to keep the group on topic and elicit responses.