What happens when we use targeted, personal participant recruitment

Helen Taylor

Before we kick-off a new Discovery project, we run a user role mapping session with the client to understand each of the user roles of the service.  As part of this session we also start to think about participant recruitment and recruitment channels.

On a recent project for the Department of Transport, we identified four user roles, with small numbers of users in each role.  

For three out of the four user roles, the project team knew all the users by name. This made recruitment of these roles quite easy.

The fourth and main user role was the largest, but it was only made up of 50 people. 

Most of our projects involved much higher volumes of users, so this was an interesting challenge. In some ways recruitment was easier than normal, but we needed an unusually high proportion of the total user base to participate in our research. 

Initially we decided to develop a typical participant recruitment form and sent it out to all of the users.

But after two days only four users had agreed to be booked in for research activities. 

So we changed tack. We drafted something for the service owner to send out with a more direct, personal touch

Users responded much better to this personal approach, and when they responded or had questions, the service owner passed them to us to finish the recruitment, consent and booking process. 

It took a few more emails than our usual more systematic screening and recruitment process, and it’s not something we could easily repeat on other projects. But we were able to get all the right users involved, and we lost no time during the participant recruitment phase of the project. 

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