How to Recruit Participants for Research

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One problem faced by those doing academic or market research is how to recruit participants. Finding suitable participants can present significant challenges, and persuading those individuals to actually engage can be even more difficult. Fortunately, there are several ways to tackle recruitment. Leveraging the power of social media, tapping into established professional networks, and even crowdsourcing may help. However, offering incentives is often the best way to recruit suitable participants. With the right research incentive, it becomes much easier to encourage people to participate in your survey or project.

Why Is It So Difficult to Recruit Research Participants? 

It can be challenging to recruit research participants for several reasons. First, depending on the type and specificity of your research, finding people who meet the appropriate demographics can be difficult. In addition, it becomes even more challenging when you cannot use participants who have participated in your previous research programs. The amount of effort required from your participants has an effect as well. The more time-consuming and complex the research project is to complete, the harder it is to recruit participants. People don’t want to give up their valuable time to contribute to a project. That’s why using research incentives as compensation for their help proves to be so effective when it comes to recruiting participants. When you reward them for their time, they become more willing to participate.

What Structure Is Best for My Research Incentives? 

There are two main options for research incentive structures:

  • Points-to-rewards
  • One-off instant rewards

Both have their own advantages and disadvantages when recruiting and retaining research participants.

Points-to-rewards programs allow the participant to collect points for every action they complete. Once they’re at a certain threshold, they redeem the points to receive their chosen reward. This type of rewards structure is ideal for ongoing survey programs, research communities, and longitudinal studies. Since participants are rewarded for each task, they are motivated to stay engaged regularly over the long term.

Points-to-rewards programs have other benefits for researchers as well:

  • They give you more control over your budget, since you can set the point value for each task and the threshold that participants must reach before redeeming a reward.
  • They are adaptable and flexible as your research changes. You can add activities, adjust point expiration dates, and alter point values based on the level of effort for each action.

The alternative is to give instant rewards, which means a participant is sent an incentive immediately after completing the survey or other desired task. This type of incentive is best for one-off projects and user experience surveys. It also works well for programs requiring different respondents for every activity or survey, as well as research that need a more significant time commitment from participants.

Other benefits of instant rewards include:

  • They create a sense of urgency for participants who want the instant gratification of a reward sent to them immediately.
  • They are the most effective at recruiting participants for individual studies.

READ MORE: Compare Reward Structures With Our Cheat Sheet

What Type of Rewards Will Be Most Effective and Efficient?

Digital gift cards are highly effective and efficient rewards, for both researchers and their participants. They are popular with recipients and allow for easy and free delivery anywhere in the world. Regardless of whether you’re using points-to-rewards or instant rewards, you can use an integrated rewards management tool to automate the delivery of digital gift cards to save yourself effort and time. Even better, they allow for excellent flexibility, since there are so many different types and values choose from to suit the needs of your research.

Using digital gift cards as an incentive, you can tailor the options to suit your target audience. By considering the demographics of your target group, you can effectively choose the right incentives to make them more appealing.

How Do I Determine an Appropriate Value for My Incentives? 

Choosing the correct value for your incentives is imperative in recruiting participants for your research, since it has to be compelling enough to motivate them to join.

To get the value correct, you must consider a number of factors

  • The level of effort required from the participant to complete the project: The greater the effort, the higher the value of the reward should be.
  • The type of respondents you need to attract: If you need to attract high-level executives, for example, their time is more valuable, so the incentive should be greater.
  • The reward type: If you’re giving a digital gift card for a luxury brand, a low value will not be especially appealing. On the other hand, a lower-value incentive for a more affordable brand will still be seen as worthwhile.
  • The value of the feedback to you: One further consideration is the value of the respondent’s feedback. The more crucial the feedback, the higher the reward should be. In addition, the more difficult it is to attract suitable participants, the more effective a higher value reward will be.

What If I Need to Keep Survey Responses or Participants Anonymous? 

Anonymity is often essential when you are carrying out research. Fortunately, a tool like BHN Rewards is the ideal solution. It supports anonymous surveys by masking data and redirecting respondents to enter their email once the survey is complete, which separates the email address and recipient’s identity from their response. With the BHN Rewards platform, it’s simple to maintain confidentiality at all times. 

Related Topics:

How to Reward Survey Participation While Keeping Responses Anonymous

How to Tailor Your Survey Rewards for In-Depth Feedback

E-Donations: How to Incentivize Recipients Who Can’t Accept Traditional Digital Gift Cards