In the best discussions, as with face to face groups, respondents interact with each other as well as the moderator in real time to generate deeper insights about the topic.
Online focus groups are appropriate for consumer research, business to business research and political research.
Interacting over the web avoids a significant amount of travel expense.
Often respondents open up more online than they would in person, which is valuable for sensitive subjects.
Like in-person focus groups, online groups are usually limited to 8-10 participants.
'Whiteboard' exercises and the ability to mark up concepts or other visual stimuli simulate many of the characteristics of in-person groups.
In addition to the savings on travel, online focus groups often can be accomplished faster than traditional groups because respondents are recruited from online panel members who are often qualified to match research criteria.
An online focus group is one type of focus group, and is a sub-set of online research methods.
They are typically an appropriate research method for consumer research, business-to-business research and political research.
A moderator invites pre-screened, qualified respondents who represent the target of interest to log on to conferencing software at a pre-arranged time and to take part in an online focus group.
It is common for respondents to receive an incentive for participating. The moderator guides the discussion using a combination of predetermined questions and unscripted probes.
There are a variety of software options, most of which offer similar features but can vary significantly in price.
It is important to choose your software carefully, ensuring that it is easy enough to use by both you as a researcher and your participants.
Of course, you should also choose a software that will meet your research needs effectively.