There are two main types of online focus group software, for the two main types of online focus group.
Types of online focus group software – Synchronous
This software is for running online focus groups that take place “live”, with all participants online at the same time, and able to interact with each other and the moderator. Typically, there would be up to 8 participants in a group, because any more than this can be unmanageable.
Real-time online focus group software may be designed for live chat (i.e. written questions and answers) or video groups. Either way, usually live groups would last 60-90 minutes.
Typically, real-time online focus group software will be used by a client in liaison with the software vendor. In other words, when a group is being run the vendor will be present to provide immediate support. This is important because if a participant is having problems logging in, for example, this will need to be sorted out as quickly as possible, so that they do not miss too much of the research, or hold up the discussion.
Real-time online focus group software fees are typically based on the number of participants and the time period over which groups are to be run.
Types of online focus group software – Asynchronous
Asynchronous online focus groups are also known as bulletin board focus groups (BBFGs), message board focus groups, or even market research online communities.
They are usually run over several days, with questions and answers posted in writing, together with file uploads (images, videos, etc…). Participants and moderators do not need to be online at the same time.
The software for this type of group is completely different to that for real-time groups. Typically there is no live chat or video facility. Groups will often have up to 30 participants, or more, rather than being restricted to 8.
Asynchronous online focus group software can typically be used without the involvement of the software vendor. That’s not to say that a vendor will not provide support. It’s just that they are not expected to be on hand to answer queries immediately.
The cost of this type of software is usually based on a set up fee per group, as well as a fee based on the number of participants and the number of days over which the research is to be run. One exception to this is our own software (which we can tell you about if you are interested).
Read here about the pros and cons of each type of online focus group.