When you’re developing or launching a new product, service, or business, you’ll want to have a general sense of how receptive your target market will be to it.
Typically, this is done through extensive market research — and one key component of the research process is running a focus group.
In this article, we’ll define what a focus group is, give you an agenda to follow when conducting on, explain how to run a focus group step-by-step, and help you plan your questions with a focus group questionnaire.
What is a focus group?
A focus group is a small group of people, typically representative of your target market, with whom you share ideas and ask questions about your product, service, or business. The individuals who make up the focus group should be a mix of current customers and people who’ve never made a purchase but might in the future. The ideal outcome is a stronger understanding of how the subject of the focus group would be received by a wider audience, and what changes (if any) should be made before the formal roll-out.
Now you may be asking, is information gathered from focus groups really important? And is it a good strategy to gather information?
Focus Group Strategy
Focus groups can provide your business with priceless information if the participants are a reflection of your target audience.
The data you collect from them is important because it can help you build successful strategies by:
Collecting more accurate needs assessments from customers.
Pulling meaning behind facts and numbers obtained from more general surveys.
You can take this information and apply it to how you choose to market your product or service, adjust the features to better suit your customers’ pain points.
Now that we understand the importance of focus groups to your operation, you have to have a focus group agenda to follow before you bring in your own participants.
Focus Group Agenda
To get started with your focus group, you’ll need an agenda to stay on task during the meeting. Here are the main points to follow when making your own.
1. Welcome the focus group participants.
First, you’ll want to welcome the participants in the focus group and introduce yourself and other researchers who may be present. This step is important as it establishes rapport with the group and builds trust.
2. Have the participants introduce themselves.
This does a few things: it continues building rapport among the group members, and it confirms the pronunciation of everyone’s names — you don’t want to spend the next hour or more together saying everyone’s names incorrectly!
3. Establish some ground rules for the group.
Before asking questions, establish some ground rules for the group. Take this moment to clarify any concerns such as:
If a topic could become controversial, let that be known and set boundaries for how far a discussion can go.
If you’ll be asking for information that isn’t normally shared in a group setting, assure the cohort that the findings won’t have names or identifying data attached to the responses.
If your company is reimbursing expenses or providing payment to the focus group participants, let them know how and when they’ll receive their disbursements.
Once these are clarified — as well as any others they may ask during this portion of the session — you can begin asking the questions about your product, service, or business.
4. Ask questions methodically.
Now, here’s the fun part. Although you may have one broad topic to discuss during the focus group, you’ll likely have several subtopics that need to be addressed separately. Structure your questions in such a way that the flow of the conversation makes sense. This could be by theme, chronological order, or the current-future state of your business.
5. Wrap up final thoughts.
Once you’ve reached a stopping point during the conversation, wrap up any lingering questions and ideas within the group. Finally, thank everyone for their time and end the session.
If you need those steps organized in a handy agenda, we’ve got you covered. Download the PDF below and save it for your next focus group.
Now that you have an understanding of how to conduct the session, let’s dive into what it takes to run a successful focus group from the very beginning.
HubSpot’s Market Research Kit includes everything you need to run an effective round of market research, including a focus group questionnaire and a guide on how to run focus groups. Download the kit now to incorporate the steps in this post into your focus group strategy.
1. Choose your topic of discussion.
Going into a focus group, your discussion should be narrowed down to one or a few topics. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to thoroughly address every area you want to discuss in one short focus group session.
Because of this, it’s not uncommon for companies to run multiple rounds of focus groups around different topics. For example, if you’re launching a new product, you could center one focus group around the product’s marketing and brand positioning, and another one around the usability and functionality of the product itself.
2. Choose your questions or discussion prompts.
Once you determine the topic of discussion for your focus group, create a list of questions and discussion prompts that will help you gather the data you need.
Let’s return to the product launch example from above. If you’re running the product marketing focus groups, you could ask questions like:
What do you think of the packaging design?
How much money would you spend on a product like this?
What other companies do you think of when you see a product like this?
Meanwhile, for a focus group about the product itself, you’ll want to ask about the product’s functionality, ease of use, and perceived favorability.
Also, remember to ask open-ended questions — “Do you like the product?” and “What do you think of the product?” may seem similar in nature, but the latter will produce more detailed results.
3. Prepare your focus group questionnaire.
After you’ve chosen your questions and discussion prompts, organize them on a focus group questionnaire. Be sure to leave enough space on the questionnaire for overall notes, a list of common responses, and one or two noteworthy responses that really stood out.
Your focus group discussion should be facilitated by at least one person while another person on your team should be a designated notetaker.
Why? The facilitator’s job is to facilitate — to guide the discussion and foster new ideas from participants. This task can get easily derailed if the facilitator also needs to pause the discussion to write down big, bold ideas and reactions from participants.
To avoid this possibility of disruption, appoint a notetaker before going into the focus group who can focus solely on jotting down the general consensus from the group, unique and noteworthy individual responses, and the key takeaways for the business.
5. Recruit and schedule participants.
One of the most challenging parts of running a focus group is getting people to actually show up. After you select a time and a place, you’ll want to start spreading the word to participants.
Here are a few ways to find them:
Reach out to existing customers.
If you’re doing market research for an existing company, reach out to your customers through account managers or an email database. Since current customers will likely be the first to use what you’re launching, this will be the perfect opportunity to gauge early reactions for the official launch.
For incentives, you could offer free or discounted services or reward them on a customer advocacy program likeInfluitive.
Advertise on social media.
Looking for middle-aged males or senior citizens in the greater Ann Arbor area? No problem! Social media advertising offers advanced targeting options for you to reach your target market.
You should also think about which sites are most used by the people you want in your focus group. If you’re interested in surveying middle-aged working professionals, you’ll probably have better luck on LinkedIn than you would on TikTok.
Try location-based promotion.
If you’re hyper-targeting a location, supplement your recruiting efforts with advertisements that will only be seen by those in your area. A few examples include:
Location-based social media campaigns (Location targeting ads)
Public Transit-Based Ads (Trains, Busses, Taxis, etc.)
Ads in Local Publications and Newspapers
Be prepared to offer incentives.
People rarely do anything for free. In your advertisements and promotional assets, highlight the incentive you’re prepared to offer — which could be cash, a gift card, or a discount on whatever you’re selling.
If you’re strapped for cash, consider hosting a raffle or giveaway for participants. That way, if you host a focus group of eight people, you could offer a chance at a $100 gift card (rather than a guaranteed $25 per participant) to save you $100.
6. Get consent and start the discussion.
Before you start your focus group discussion, remind participants of the purpose of the group and hand out a consent form. The consent form should reiterate the purpose of the event, outline the participants’ rights, identify the compensation, list the facilitators’ contact information, and prompt participants to sign.
After everyone signs off, it’s time to run the focus group.
7. Have everyone introduce themselves.
To break the ice and get people talking, start the discussion off by introducing yourself and inviting the participants to do the same.
This is another chance for you to learn more about your target market. In addition to having participants say their names, consider asking them to share their industry or interests to get a more personal understanding of how your product, service, or business could play a role in their everyday lives.
That being said, it can be easy to tie yourself to your list of questions or discussion points, but sticking too closely to this can hamper natural and effective conversations. If the group takes a slightly different turn than you were expecting, don’t be afraid to allow the conversation to veer off-course if it seems productive.
The point of a focus group is not just to confirm information you think is true, but also to uncover what you don’t know.
So long as it’s not too far off-topic, allow the conversation to happen naturally and use an agenda as a guide rather than a point-by-point checklist of topics to cover.
Additionally, you may not ask every question on your list, depending on the direction of the conversation. Make sure you ask the most important questions first, and follow up on certain discussion points to keep things flowing rather than hosting a pure question-and-answer forum.
9. Seek equal representation from the group.
Your session involves an entire group of people, so you have to make sure you hear from each and every one of them! That may seem obvious, but a focus group can quickly turn into an interview of one or two of the most talkative members.
If you run into this problem, be ready to jump in when someone has been quiet for too long by thanking the most active participants for their input and re-opening the floor to the other participants. Say something along the lines of “Isabella, what’s your input here?” or “Raheem, what do you think about what Isabella said?” for the rest to chime in.
10. End the meeting in a reasonable amount of time.
Exhaustion and the law of diminishing returns are real, so keep them in mind when planning the time frame for your focus group.
At the start of the session, in your advertisements, and/or on your consent form, you should specify how long the focus group will last. It’s your responsibility to moderate the discussion in a way that ensures the time frame is not exceeded.
Now, if the exercise lasts for an hour and five minutes and you promised an hour focus group, that’s acceptable. However, if you promised a 45-minute session and it goes well over an hour, your attendees could be resentful and less likely to offer valuable feedback.
When the discussion is over, thank your attendees for their time and deliver the promised incentive, if applicable. Additionally, remind them of your contact information if they decide they have more feedback or comments they’d like to provide.
11. Analyze and incorporate feedback.
Ideally, your focus group has provided you with plenty of responses, unique angles, and actionable ideas to help your business thrive. After all of your focus groups have taken place, have your team compile and analyze the commonalities of the ideas presented and what changes, if any, are applicable to the product, service, or business in question.
You have a step-by-step guide for conducting a focus group, let’s take a look at a real-world application of one.
Focus Group Example
This recent focus group study follows most of the guidelines we’ve recommended and derived useful information for real-world application.
Post-Election Focus Group
Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service conducted a focus group with first-time voters after the 2020 election. It could have been very easy for this focus group to get off track and into political affiliations; However, you’ll notice in this example that the researcher had a topic in mind — the first-time-voter experience — and didn’t deviate from that topic. She asked probing questions and sought out a variety of perspectives from the group.
Watch this focus group to get a better understanding of how to start these conversations and keep them going to get the insights you need.
The information can now be studied for political research thus helping guide future campaigns for first-time voters.
Run a Successful Focus Group
Taking this methodical approach to running a focus group can produce better and more insightful feedback from your participants. To keep your questions, thoughts, and responses organized, we developed a focus group template, which you can use to run a better focus group. Download it for free now to get the most out of your marketing research.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
For your team, screen recorders can be used for several reasons — from creating tutorials for your website to recording a recurring tech issue to sending your marketing team a quick note instead of an email.
Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, businesses worldwide face lots of uncertainty.
One thing will remain constant throughout this period — customers expect excellent experiences when interacting with a brand. According to Acquia’s latest CX Report, businesses plan to prioritize customer retention over the next 12 months: 56% plan to improve customer experience, and 58% will focus more on customer service.
This should be a common goal. To weather a potential storm, businesses must keep customers by meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for CNBC.com and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.
Are You Prepared for the Shift in Website Design with the Rise of Blockchain Technology?”
Let’s take a deep dive into the exciting future and world of web3 blockchain technology, and its impact on website design and development.
I’m going to provide you with real-world examples, and by the end you should have a clear and concise explanation of how decentralization, data management, and interactions will work in the future of websites.
I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about the benefits of adopting these technologies, including increased security, website personalization, and user control.
If you want to stay ahead in the field of website design and understand the future of the industry then this article is a must-read.
The way we build websites now is changing!
The way websites are built now is inefficient and requires a huge knowledge base to build correctly. Most website platforms these days use some form of a WYSIWYG “WiziWig” style builder like WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, and countless others.
It’s taken over 30 years for websites to be as good as they are today, this direction is for the long term thinker who wants to be on the cutting edge of the industry and build their brand in a space that is extremely new.
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You will need to learn the technology overtime and become proficient with the types of industries that are looking to build web3 websites and applications. There are already a few decentralized website and web app builders out there that are fully running on blockchain technology.
Decentralized Web App Builder Example: ICME
One example is a company called ICME that has “world’s first smart contract marketplace and web3 no-code suite.” Their modules even offer the ability to integrate with web2 applications that support API Post Requests.
Their entire code base is built on a blockchain technology called Internet Computer, which is why I’m actually invested in their Cryptocurrency known as ICP on exchanges. It allows you to do everything from building landing pages, websites, blog posts, online stores, Linktree type pages, Store NFT’s and more.
I do see some existing platforms like WordPress evolving into a fully decentralized Web3 platform, that would dramatically speed up market adoption as they have such a huge knowledge base and community of creators, it’s just a matter of time.
The exact evolution of website building tools is yet to be seen, but what’s certain is that web3 and blockchain technology will play a significant role in shaping the future of the web. The sooner you start to adopt and learn this technology the further ahead you will be when the time comes to switch from the internet we know it to what’s coming in the not too distant future.
Web3 Websites will be easier to build and customize with AI Tools.
The process of building websites in Web3 becomes much more intuitive and easy with the integration of artificial intelligence, with tools like OpenAI, you will simply give the program a prompt and give it a clear description of what you want your website to look like, say, do, and create.
This is where things will get fun for a designer and being able to let your creativity and artistic talent reach a level never seen before.
The need or demand for front end website programmers will change as less custom coding will be required, your website will be able to change visual elements and maybe more in the future with ai.
Web3 Websites are going to become very personalized experiences and brand centric.
Websites will collect data with consent(which is another point for later), that allows the user to have a completely customized user experience and interaction. Imagine a traditional website as a restaurant where the customers order their food from the menu and the kitchen staff prepares the dishes.
In this scenario, the restaurant manager is the central authority that controls the flow of information, the menu, and the preparation of the food. However, in a web3 and blockchain enabled website, this centralized authority is replaced by a decentralized network of customers, chefs, and kitchen staff.
With web3 and blockchain technology, website users can interact with the site in a more direct and efficient manner. Instead of relying on a central authority, users can participate in transactions and interactions on the website without intermediaries.
This eliminates the need for middlemen, making the process faster, more secure, and cost-effective.
For example, a user can easily and securely create their own profile, manage their data, and participate in transactions on the website. This level of user empowerment enables them to take control of their online presence and interactions, providing them with greater privacy and security.
The decentralization of website interactions through web3 and blockchain technology represents a shift towards a more user-centric and efficient web experience. It eliminates the need for intermediaries, providing users with greater control over their interactions, transactions, and data.
Web3 Data Management will become more secure.
Imagine now you are running a restaurant and you need to keep track of all the ingredients you have in stock, what dishes you serve, and the orders from your customers. In the traditional system, you would keep all this information in a single ledger book, written by hand.
However, with the integration of blockchain technology in your restaurant, this system of record-keeping becomes much more efficient and secure. Each ingredient becomes a unique item with its own blockchain record, and the orders from customers are recorded as transactions.
This decentralization of data management ensures that all the information is secure and can be easily accessed by any member of the team who needs it.
In the same way, decentralization will work for data management in website design and development. Instead of relying on a single central database to store all website data, this information can be spread out across multiple nodes on a blockchain network.
This means that website data is not stored in one central location, but is instead distributed across many different nodes, making it much more secure and resilient against hacking or other forms of data loss.
For example, user data such as personal information, preferences, and transactions can be stored in a secure and encrypted manner on a blockchain network like Internet Computer. This allows website owners to manage their data in a more secure and efficient way, giving users peace of mind that their information is protected.
The integration of blockchain technology in website design and development will lead to a more secure and efficient way of managing our website data.
Like William Mougayar said author of The Business Blockchain “In a world where data is currency, the blockchain offers a new model of trust and control.” By decentralizing our data management, website owners will know that all information is stored in a secure and transparent manner, promoting trust and confidence among users.
Say goodbye to hackers once websites are on Web3.
There were 22 billion breached records in 2021 alone, the biggest reason behind that is due to the nature of Centralized servers and website platforms. In Web3 security can be compared to a fortified castle, providing superior protection against outside threats and ensuring the safety of you and your clients or customers valuable information and data.
Using blockchain technology, website owners will be able to offer a greater degree of security to their users, protecting their data and transactions from malicious actors.
This will be particularly important in fields such as finance and healthcare, where the protection of sensitive information is of utmost importance and required by HIPAA and other regulatory agencies.
Just as a fortified castle protects its inhabitants from outside threats, web3 provides a layer of security to websites that is unparalleled by traditional web design.
The decentralized nature of web3 eliminates the need for a central point of control, making it much harder for hackers to penetrate. In addition, web3’s advanced encryption algorithms and blockchain technology provide a secure platform for website data and interactions.
In a traditional website, all data is stored in a central database, making it a prime target for cyber attacks. On the other hand, web3 stores data across a network of nodes, making it much harder for a single point of failure to occur. This eliminates the risk of large scale data breaches, as well as reducing the risk of individual data being compromised.
Finally, web3’s immutable ledger ensures that all website interactions are transparent and secure. This means that all transactions and changes made to the website can be tracked and verified, making it easier to detect and prevent any fraudulent activity. So if you want to protect your website and your clients website and their users from outside threats, web3 is going to be the way to go!
“Blockchain technology offers a level of security that was previously unachievable on the internet.” – Don Tapscott, blockchain expert and author of Blockchain Revolution
Automation will be effortless with Web3.
Blockchain Web Apps will have the ability to work together seamlessly, I see a future not too far off where ecosystems of dozens of programs are consolidated into one. Checking your social media posts, messages, your email, text messages, and website inquiries all in one place in just minutes.
Automation when done properly removes friction and resistance from any area of your business that is a lower revenue generating activity. Your time is the most valuable thing you have and using automation tools is how you buy back that time.
With web3, websites will be able to automate many processes, reducing the need for intermediaries and streamlining operations.
I want to give a few examples of ways we can Automate our websites with Web3. The first is dynamic pricing and inventory management: Web3 and blockchain technology will allow for automated and real-time pricing and inventory updates on our e-commerce websites, reducing manual labor and increasing efficiency so that you and your team can focus on higher revenue generating tasks.
The second is user authentication and verification: Web3 and blockchain technology will provide a secure and automated way to verify user identities, reducing the risk of fraud and making it easier for websites to manage user access and permissions.
I’ve already had to dramatically improve my knowledge around user verification after working with nearly a dozen blockchain brands since 2016.
There are already QR codes being used to login to websites like discord and other utilities like Crypto Wallets. The last example is content delivery and distribution, Web3 and blockchain technology allows for the automated content distribution, reducing the need for manual content updates and ensuring that the most up-to-date information is always available on your site.
This will free up time and resources for more creative and meaningful work, and will help to reduce costs for both users and website owners. This is good for any business owner that wants to lower their bottom line costs while raising their top line revenue simultaneously by leveraging time at the highest level of efficiency possible.
When it comes to Revenue Web3 will give you maximum monetization potential.
In the world of websites, monetization is the process of generating revenue from a website. Traditional website monetization methods include advertising, subscriptions, and e-commerce sales. However, with the advent of web3 and blockchain, the landscape of website monetization is about to change.
For example purposes let’s use a loyalty program analogy, a loyalty program is a rewards system offered by businesses to incentivize customers to continue using their services. Similarly, on web3, website monetization will offer new ways for website owners to monetize their content and incentivize users to continue visiting their site.
One example of how websites on web3 and blockchain can monetize their content is through tokenization. In this model, websites can issue tokens that represent ownership of certain content or access to premium features.
Users can then purchase these tokens and exchange them for access to the content or features they are interested in. This creates a new revenue stream for the website and offers users an incentive to visit and engage with the site.
Another way that web3 and blockchain can monetize content is through micropayments. In the traditional web, micropayments are difficult to execute due to high transaction fees and slow processing times. However, with the speed and low cost of transactions on the blockchain, micropayments become a viable option for websites to monetize their content.
This allows websites to offer users access to small amounts of content in exchange for a small payment, giving users a more affordable way to access quality content they are interested in.
One of the best examples I’ve seen so far is how Tom Bilyeu has used NFT’s as a way for people to get access to his content which ranges from events, to video games, tv shows, education and a ton more his nft’s are cleverly called the “Founder Keys.” There are lots of perks that brands are giving to early adopters that support the web3 movement and help us move closer to a better, safer, and more balanced internet.
Websites can also create loyalty program-like systems that incentivizes users to continue visiting and engaging with their site.
As the web3 and blockchain ecosystem continues to grow, we can expect to see an influx of new and creative monetization models emerge, providing websites with new opportunities to generate more revenue, and their users and visitors with new and exciting ways to access and engage with your content.
Decentralization puts Consent into action.
As a designer, the websites or graphics I create that started from an idea, a conversation, or something i’ve experienced are valuable and belong to me, knowing that there are AI design tools that can take my 15 years of experience, and use it to create an even better version in seconds and essentially for free?
That’s a big NO NO for the creators and artists, in fact there is a movement happening right now about consent and how these big platforms don’t have the consent to use their art as reference for AI design tools.
I stand behind being able to give consent if your work is going to be used without your permission, if movie and music piracy is a federal crime shouldn’t companies stealing a designer’s work without consent a crime too?
I think so, and that’s why I’m so excited about Web3 and Blockchain. Being able to create smart contracts and public records of your creative assets is a huge step forward for creators and designers around the world.
Imagine a world where your designs are stored on a decentralized platform, accessible only with your consent. You can choose who can view your work, who can use it, and how it can be used. No longer do you have to worry about your designs being stolen or used without your permission.
With web3 and Blockchain, your work is protected by the power of blockchain technology, ensuring that your designs remain yours.
In this new world, you can also monetize your work in new and innovative ways. For example, you could offer limited use licenses for your designs, allowing others to use them for a specified period of time. You could also offer exclusive access to your designs, giving a select group of people the ability to use them in a unique way.
By giving you the power to control how your work is used, shared, and monetized, web3 decentralization empowers you to take control of your career and build a future that reflects your vision and values. Decentralization is a game-changer for designers and creatives alike.
You get complete power of consent for your work to be used in any way, web3 decentralization empowers you to take control of your career and build a future that reflects your vision and values. So why not embrace this exciting new technology and start building your future today?
Interacting with Web3 Websites will be easier than ever.
Web3 website users will be able to customize a range of interactions on a website like content creation and sharing. Users will be able to create, share and consume content that aligns with their interests and preferences, without relying on centralized platforms.
Community building, users will have the ability to build and join communities that align with their interests and participate in decision-making processes, creating a more personalized and engaging online experience.
Interaction with E-commerce, users will be able to buy and sell goods and services directly with one another, without the need for traditional payment processors, creating a more transparent, secure, and affordable online marketplace.
Users will be able to access personalized services and experiences based on their data and preferences, creating a more user-centered online experience. A good example is a pizza shop website that keeps track of the last purchase you made and gives you the option to re order it at a discount price.
Web3 users will have the ability to customize a wide range of interactions on the website, from content creation and community building, to e-commerce and data privacy, creating a more user-centered, personalized and engaging online experience.
The adoption of web3 and blockchain technology is poised to bring about a revolution in the world of website design. From decentralization to automation and from security to monetization, these technologies offer new and innovative ways to interact with the web.
As a designer, it is crucial to keep up with these changes and be prepared for the new opportunities and challenges that come with them.
Web3 decentralization empowers creators by giving them control over how their work is used. Automation streamlines processes and saves time, while security measures are reinforced, giving website owners peace of mind. And with monetization options like a rewards program, website owners can explore new and innovative ways to earn revenue.
Overall, the future of website design is bright with the integration of web3, blockchain, and ai. Designers should embrace the power of these technologies to unlock new possibilities on the web and create better online experiences for everyone
“Unlock the power of web3 and blockchain to unleash your creative potential, embrace the future of website design, and build the digital world of tomorrow.” – Adrian Boysel