Live vs. Asynchronous Research Sessions: When to Choose One Over the Other…and When to Choose Both

Online qualitative/quantitative research sessions allow research teams to conduct qualitative and quantitative research and analysis in one place. Through this methodology, researchers can combine a number of quantitative questions and methods with open-end exploration. This helps to provide a direct link between what have traditionally been disparate sources of understanding.

Most people immediately associate this type of research with a live session (or sessions) conducted on a specific day at a specific time with respondents answering questions and reacting to stimuli in real-time. However, the online qual/quant research powered by Invoke’s platform can also be run asynchronously. That is, these sessions can also remain open over the course of a few hours, days, or longer if necessary. Through these Invoke Asynchronous research sessions, researchers can still recruit respondents to the necessary specifications. Participants take part in an engaging research experience and respond similarly to how they would in a live session. However, the date and time requirements of a Live session don’t constrain participants in Asynchronous sessions.

In this blog, we’ll explore the value of both kinds of research sessions – live and asynchronous. We’ll also discuss when to conduct either type or both.

Asynchronous Sessions Can Help with Challenging Recruits

When running a live session, the need for respondents to be available on a specific date at a specific time makes recruitment more challenging. And while this difference is negligible in less complicated recruits, this can make it more difficult to fill a live session to the desired base size when respondent sample definitions become narrower. These may be micro-targeted consumer sessions where the necessary respondents fall within a very specific demographic or behavioral group. Or they may be business-to-business sessions where respondents are always hard-to-recruit professionals (doctors, lawyers, business travelers, etc.),

Since they remove this date/time need and can be conducted over the course of hours, days, or weeks, Asynchronous sessions remove these complications from the recruit and are flexible enough to work around the busy schedules of respondents.

International Projects are Also Common Use Cases for Asynchronous

Another challenge that arises when conducting live research sessions centers on talking to international respondents. While platforms such as Invoke’s enable real-time machine translations, which can be used in both Invoke Live and Asynchronous sessions, global time differences make Live sessions difficult to conduct when dealing with international respondents. While a Live session requires a live moderator to manage the session, analyze data, and probe with additional questions in real-time, researchers can run an Asynchronous session automatically, without the need for a human moderator to be present at all times.

This is especially useful in projects with multiple sessions run across multiple countries in multiple time zones where it’s nearly impossible to run them all live. For projects such as this, it’s common to run a combination of Live sessions (where time zones are not an issue) and Asynchronous sessions (where time zones would make it difficult to run Live.)

Live sessions carry benefits not possible in an Asynchronous session

While Asynchronous sessions are more flexible and can help with logistical challenges like tough recruits, Live sessions offer unique benefits. During a Live session, research teams and stakeholders can not only collect and analyze data in real-time but also can probe respondents through on-the-fly questions and 1-on-1 chats. When running Asynchronous sessions, teams may opt to pause session fielding to insert questions based on findings thus far, but this is not as effective as on-the-fly probing since questions will be asked only of the portion of respondents that have not participated in the session prior to this point.

Additionally, the very nature of a real-time session carries inherent benefits such as improved speed-to-insight. Since Live sessions run within a shortened time frame, they allow all involved in the project to attend. This introduces a uniquely high level of stakeholder involvement not possible with Asynchronous sessions.

Live-to-Asynchronous: Combining the Depth of Live with the Flexibility of Asynchronous

There exists situations where Asynchronous sessions are the more apropos choice, such as those involving a challenging recruit. But Live sessions carry with them benefits that can greatly improve the quality and success of a project. Therefore, teams may want to consider a third option that combines elements from both of these options. They may choose to combine these options if they need the flexibility of Asynchronous but desire the benefits of Live. This Live-to-Asynchronous is where the session begins as a Live research session with a smaller amount of respondents but is left open over the course of a specified amount of time to achieve a desired total base size.

An example may help. Imagine a situation in which a team needed to recruit doctors in a very specific field of medicine to test communications for new medicine. The project team needs to hear from 75 of these doctors. However, they realize that recruiting this number of doctors for a specific date and time would be impossible. However, the project team wants to maintain the ability to probe and chat with these doctors.

Therefore, a Live-to-Asynchronous would be a perfect fit here. During the scheduled Live research session, the team may enlist 30-40 doctors to participate. During that session, researchers can add on-the-fly questions/probes for greater depth and administer 1-on-1 chats. Then, once the Live session has ended, the team can leave it open to run Asynchronously. The remaining 35-45 doctors can enter and participate in the session at their leisure while researchers leave the session open. Participants will ask and answer all questions, including any probes added in the live session. Once the researchers reach the desired base size, they can close the Asynchronous session and deliver all data.

It All Starts with Partnership and the Right Tools

Properly making the decision on which way to run an online qual/quant project – Live, Asynchronous, or Live-to-Asynchronous – requires a full understanding of the needs and constraints of the project at hand. Clients and research providers should work as partners to discuss upfront project objectives, respondent specifications, timelines, and other elements that may factor into the decision. Having a research vendor with an understanding of how these methodologies can best answer client needs and wants determines fit. And of course, this research provider must have the necessary tools in their toolbox to answer these needs.

Invoke has the experience necessary to tailor the best approach and the solutions portfolio necessary to meet the needs of clients looking to listen to their consumers, customers, and viewers.

Interested in learning more about how Invoke can meet your specific needs? Request a demo to start the conversation.

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