E-commerce Link: Research 101
I don't know about you, but my friends and family are Web designers, school teachers, business consultants and librarians—I even know a marine biologist. But these people, as smart and talented as they are, know nothing about using hydrogen to produce cleaner burning gasoline and diesel fuels. The last time my husband thought about nitrogen was in memorizing the periodic table for his high school chemistry final. All of this got me thinking about how we can best set ourselves up for research success when the research topic requires participants to have such a unique knowledge base.
In my experience, there are three somewhat guerilla recruiting methods that we as researchers can use if we don't have the time or budget to bring in a third-party sourcing firm:
Friends and Family
Friends and family recruits tend to work best when research isn't too terribly specialized or doesn't require deep subject matter expertise in a given topic area. We've been successful with this type of recruiting when the focus of our studies is a common experience, task or challenge faced by many—home remodeling projects, lawn care, health insurance research and enrollment, even opening an online stock brokerage or bank account. These are processes we go through as part of everyday living and generally well-recruited participants can offer meaningful insights, even if they happen to be our siblings or neighbors.
Customer or Stakeholder Lists
Client-supplied lists are helpful in recruiting research participants when there is a known or targeted set of site users. Good examples where we've been successful are in recruiting a cross section of an organization's employees for researching an intranet redesign, or with product dealers and their customers, particularly for larger, more expensive or B-to-B purchases. Beware in this scenario not to fall into the industrial gas trap that we encountered. Make sure that client lists will be available without fail when needed.