The best online focus group software could mean the lowest cost, the easiest to use (whether for you or your participants), one with particular features or capabilities, or the one with the best support. So how do you choose which is best for your particular needs and circumstances?
Choose your overall type of online focus group software
There are two broad types of online focus group software: synchronous (which is for real-time research, usually undertaken via chat room or video) and asynchronous (which is for running groups over several days or longer). You can read more in our article called the two types of online focus group software.
There are lots of reasons to choose asynchronous online focus group software, even though it might seem at first sight to be less appealing than real-time software. Firstly, it is easier to use, so that you can run groups yourself without the assistance of the software provider. Also, it is also lower cost, and, most importantly, produces better results. We have written another article about this called the hidden costs of free online focus group software.
In terms of searching for software on Google it is worth knowing that asynchronous online focus groups are also called bulletin board online focus groups.
Mobile online focus group software
Some online focus group software requires participants to download and install an app in order that they can use it on a mobile device. Other online focus group software instead uses a “responsive” interface to automatically display properly on any device.
The purpose of an app is to allow participants to answer questions in places where they do not have Internet access. But there is a big downside, namely the hassle involved and the reluctance of many participants to download an app, which therefore increases the time and cost involved in recruitment.
When we run online focus groups we usually recommend that participants answer the questions on a computer or tablet, rather than a mobile phone. This is because we want them to give in-depth answers, and this is easier on such devices. Having said that if you want participants to upload images or videos this is usually best done via a mobile phone.
The importance of support
Arguably the most important consideration in choosing the best online focus group software the level and type of support provided by the vendor, rather than any particular software features.
So it is worth investigating the support that is provided by any software vendor you are considering. Is it email only, or also phone support? What about out of office hours or weekends? What about support fees?
Online focus group software cost
If you are thinking about the best online focus group software in terms of cost, please remember that the cost of the software is just one element in the overall cost of running online focus groups. The other two are recruitment and incentives, and possibly translation. The good news is that there are no fees for travel, accommodation, transcription, etc…
So having said all that, of course, software cost will be a consideration, and it is worth investigating fully because with certain software there can be hidden costs.