Having performed product research for many years at various companies, we can tell you first hand that the hardest part of the process is convincing research candidates to show up. For most product researchers this is the bane of their existence — it requires relentless pursuit like sales or recruiting, lots of administration and coordination, and all the emotional rollercoasters that go along with it.

One technique that many researchers often try is to add incentives:

“If you join this research session, we’ll give you an Amazon gift card”

We find this really doesn’t work — people join for the wrong reasons. We receive the best, honest feedback from people that want to attend because they care about the topic. And, when they truly care about the topic, they put deep thought into it which is most beneficial to the research process.

The good news here is that almost everyone wants to talk about AI. We see over %30 open rates on just about every email we send because most professionals are curious about subject lines with “AI”. However, this creates another challenge… ensuring research interviews stay on task. Oftentimes candidates want to talk about the “technology” of AI instead of the application of AI to a particular, meaningful use case. So, be sure to state the objective of your research in all your promotion efforts. A lot of people enjoy helping a company design a new product, there’s a certain sense of pride that comes along with it.

Another tactic that has worked surprisingly well for us is “social research recruiting”. If you’re researching more extraverted personas (e.g., marketers, recruiters), be sure to ask interviewee candidates whether they know anyone else that may be interested. We recently built a list of 93 interviewee candidates in ~ 30 days from 5 people referring us to others in their network!

Lastly, it’s critical to track all this contact and coordination information so you’re well organized. It can get out of control fast! In our recent efforts researching AI Marketing concepts, we didn’t go as far as using a CRM. Instead, we built a robust Google Sheet that included the following information that was updated daily.

  • Name

  • Title

  • Company

  • Linkedin

  • Email

  • Type – Buyer vs User

  • Source – Who referred us

  • Status – Open, In Progress, Scheduled, Completed

  • Segment

  • Date Scheduled

  • Interviewer

What are your experiences recruiting research candidates?

We would love to hear from you!