Inside Diversified’s Latest Focus Group Initiative
An evolution of the audience survey that can yield major returns.
While a lot of publishers offer up their audiences for surveys, Diversified Communications is putting a new spin on the practice.
The program, called the ASAP Power Panel, is targeted to the audience of Diversified’s Administrative Professionals Conference and the American Society of Administrative Professionals it manages, and centers on a different type of data science than most survey initiatives. Instead of one-off questionnaires, the company is getting users to sign on for repeated surveys or focus groups.
Longitudinal studies—observing the same group several times—offer benefits that cross-sectional studies—one-time samples—don’t.
“I really saw the magic in longitudinal research—going back to the same folks over and over again—versus the one-and-done survey,” says Katie Clark, senior insights manager for Diversified. “With one-off surveys, you can’t chase the person down the street and ask them ‘Why did you think that?’ Longitudinal research lets you go back again and again and again, and iterate at every stage of the process.”
Clark cites a product launch process as an example of where longitudinal research proves its worth. From ideation to product development to marketing and release, companies are able to get a consistent base to weigh against previous samples, ensuring they’re progressing in a coherent direction.
Getting a critical mass of individuals to agree to fill out multiple surveys each month isn’t easy though, and it’s not necessarily the right fit for every audience. Incentive programs help—Diversified is offering participants gift cards and donations for their efforts—though it’s even more important that administrative professionals are, by and large, “very engaged,” “very talkative” and “pretty much the perfect group for this,” Clark says.
Hitting the right frequency of studies—not overwhelming them; not letting them lose interest—and mix of questions—“We aren’t asking anything we already know the answer to,” she says—are also key.
Since the pilot program launched in September, more than 600 individuals have signed up. There’s actually a waiting list of interested participants, though preserving demographic balance has prevented Clark from adding more from specific groups.
Pricing varies widely, Clark says, though the program is doing well enough that the company has plans to roll it out to different brand audiences soon.