2️⃣How to recruit users

👋🏼 Introduction

A research study is only as useful as the participants we speak to. Ensure the people you’re speaking to are a good representation of the audience you’re building for.

1️⃣ Identify sources

When you’re sourcing users, think about where they are likely to hang out, which physical or online spaces they are likely to frequent and where they engage with others.

For existing users or customers:

  • Reach out to your customer support or data analytics teams for a list of users.

  • Use a simple “Want to give us more feedback?” on your website, product, newsletter.

  • Post on your twitter, instagram or facebook accounts.

For broad or generic audience:

  • Use discovery platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

  • You could also use community groups on Discord, Reddit, WhatsApp, and Telegram.

For specific or niche audience:

  • If the team is familiar with the space they are building in, they will already be part of personal or professional networks their users are part of.

  • Ask recruited participants to suggest or introduce you to 1-2 people who might be interested in helping you out in a similar capacity.

  • Use filters on platforms like LinkedIn if your audience is active there, or Google Maps for hyperlocal business like kirana shops or restaurants, etc.

  • Join online communities or groups on Whatsapp and Facebook which your users are part of and are active on.

  • Visit places or events where your customers are likely to congregate — conferences, seminars, training sessions and social events.

Recruitment agencies like Market Mirror are good if the above options don’t work. Typically, the fees for recruitment agencies includes their fees as well as participant incentives. Lead time needed in this option is typically longer too.

2️⃣ Create ad template

A simple ad or a message on the channel of your choice, is a good way to get the attention of a couple of hundred users.

When you’re creating the ad:

  1. Don’t reveal the subject of the research or the kind of customer you’re seeking. Your screener questionnaire will help with unbiased filtering.

  2. Clearly call out the incentive, date and duration of research, and include the link to your screener survey.

3️⃣ Screen your users

  1. Start with attributes of people you want to talk to. This is the user persona. Think about attributes of users you want to avoid for this research study.

  2. For each attribute, think about what exact criteria you will use to determine if they qualify for the study. This could be specific numbers, range of numbers or specific keywords.

  3. Turn the criteria into a form such that it doesn’t reveal the right answer when participants read the questions.

  4. Keep the form crisp, between 5-7 questions. If the form is longer, you might risk people not completing at all.

  5. Add a short introduction before the questionnaire to give users context. After they’ve completed the form, thank them and inform them with what they can expect as next steps.

Google Forms is a great tool for creating screeners and collecting the responses in a spreadsheet that’s easy to share and collaborate on.

4️⃣ Recruit users

5 users is the magic number for qualitative studies. You’ll get most of your insights with this number. If the results don’t give clear patterns for the success or failure of key hypotheses or questions, consider doing 5 more interviews.

  1. Once you’ve shortlisted participants, give them a call and then send brief emails with:

    • Context and incentives.

    • Available dates and times for their appointments.

    • Instructions to arrive ten minutes early — to “check-in.”

    • Good directions to your office by car and public transport, along with links or landmarks.

    • Your phone number in case they have questions, need to reschedule, need help finding the way, or for troubleshooting help during remote interviews.

For a starting point for the call and email refer — Recruitment Script

  1. Schedule interviews with breaks between calls, break for lunch, and time to debrief at the end of the day. Conducting interviews can be tiring. Ensure you give yourself time to stretch your legs, and have a word with your team between sessions.

5️⃣ Reduce No-Shows

No-shows are inevitable. But we can try to keep them to a minimum.

  1. Offer an incentive that’s big enough to motivate people to show up. ₹1000 gift cards for 60-minute interviews work well. You can experiment to see what the right amount is for your customers.

  2. Recruit one or two extras in case of inevitable “no-shows.”

  3. Don’t start recruiting too far in advance. Unless recruiting participants who are hard to find or schedule (e.g. oncologists, executives, astronauts), recruit just a few days before the interviews. That way the appointment is fresh in their minds, and conflicts are less likely to arise.

  4. Avoid scheduling interviews on Mondays or immediately before or after holidays.

  5. Call participants to remind them about their appointments the day before.

  6. Elicit several responses from your recruits in the days leading up to the study to make sure they’re engaged.

  7. After the first call with them, send an email asking them to reply to confirm receipt. Use a subject line like “Reply to Confirm — Usability session scheduled on February 29 at 1 pm”

    1. If any recruits aren’t responsive to these emails and call before the study, it’s okay to be skeptical, make up an excuse to cancel, and schedule someone else.

Further reading

No more “no shows” — how to make sure your research participants actually show up

How to find great participants for your user study

Finding “hard to find” customers for research

Rapid user research: how to survey 400 users and interview 10 in three days

The GV research sprint: Start recruiting participants (day 1)

Itoday Apéro #8 - Michael Margolis - The Research Sprint, a pragmatic path to UX Research (LIVE)

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