Using Incentives in Market Research Online Communities

Do you have a huge participant attrition problem in your online bulletin board studies? Many things factor into why participants drop out of a study - be it schedule unavailability, low interest rates, or lack of payment.

Incentivizing online community platforms is the most effective technique for improving timely participation rates and insight quality. The historical body of research studies prove that incentives have a tremendous impact for driving human behavior, as many participants tend to contribute richer insights when rewards are involved.

using-incentives-in-studies-with-market-research-online-communitiesSome studies use points as the backbone of incentivization. Each activity a participant completes equals to a certain amount of points based on a task’s difficulty. Points are then accumulated towards redemption of tangible incentives. However, the incentivization method is at the discretion of the researchers or organization conducting the project. Many utilize the point system although it’s not necessary for all projects and some agreements don’t even involve reward points. Respondents basically get incentives after completing whatever task they agreed to upon recruitment. Here are the types of incentives market researchers usually offer:

  1. Cash or Monetary Rewards - Monetary rewards offer great convenience and flexibility, as physical checks can be mailed to the respondents’ doorsteps easily at minimal costs. Researchers can also utilize electronic payment methods (i.e. PayPal) and physical/virtual debit and credit cards to incentivize participants who are located outside of the researcher’s locale. Cash “payment” ranges from a couple of dollars to hundreds depending on the length and intensiveness of activities.

  2. Gift Cards and Coupon Codes - Physical gift cards and coupon codes are also convenient options. Gift cards can be sent easily through snail mail, while electronic gift cards or coupon codes can be quickly sent via email.

  3. Competition - Sometimes points are used as tickets for entering contests to win bigger rewards. For instance, a certain amount of points enables participants to join raffles where they can get a chance to win instant big bucks. Although most participants tend to redeem small but guaranteed rewards more than taking a risk for a slight probability of winning a jackpot.

  4. Badges/Achievement Levels - It’s not always about tangible incentives. Characteristics of a full-service online bulletin board such as gamification brings out intrinsic rewards as well. Like video games, participants level up as they gain more experience and complete harder activities. People appreciate recognition for their hard work, and a fantastic way to make them feel valued for taking part in the project is through participation badges.

Researchers can offer incentives through recruiters, meaning the incentive is not directly integrated into the online community platform. If you - market researcher - are looking for a platform where you can easily utilize incentivization in a study, a great solution is Chatterbox. This leading edge online bulletin board solution has incentivization features such as bonus rewards, raffles, points tracking, and achievement levels that can be added during the project setup at your discretion. Chatterbox can effectively tailor the integration of rewards and points tracking to whatever fits your project best.

Although the use of incentives for market research online communities have encouraged participants to actively join in and work with online bulletin boards, are these really good or bad? Unfortunately, it’s not always butterflies and rainbows. Some people take advantage of incentives and participate in studies for the sole purpose of earning rewards. These are the people who react to incentives just for the sake of it - some might even rush through activities to earn more incentives. It is important to watch out for these types of participants, who can lead to study results that are inferior or unreliable. It is important that market researchers consider balancing incentives thoroughly. Poor incentives may contribute to the dropout rate, but increasing the incentive value over the tipping point of what the work itself is worth can too much may attract people to join with the wrong intentions.

In summary, incentives can be very helpful in keeping an online community group engaged in a study. The trick is to use good judgment in assessing what makes sense for the work involved.