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Case study: recruiting couples for paired user research with the NCT

By Maria Santos

Digital Marketing Manager

Published:

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Back in 2018, People for Research teamed up with the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), the UK’s leading charity for parents, to recruit new and soon-to-be parents to take part in a research project about antenatal and/or postnatal services, including their experiences of antenatal courses. Through these sessions, the organisation, which has been supporting millions of parents through birth and early parenthood since 1956, wanted to better understand the participants’ motivations and goals when booking and attending antenatal and postnatal services and courses.

Just like the NCT, some of our clients do sometimes ask to see couples, or pairs of friends/family members, together to discuss a given topic. It’s really interesting for the researchers to hear two different points of view on the same topic or experience, and it enables the researcher to see the whole picture, rather than just a one-sided opinion.

The team at the National Childbirth Trust understands that personal perspectives can be very different when asking new parents the same question, and so hearing from both sides was vital for the research, which ran across several locations in the UK. Their goal was to find out how expectant and new parents deal with the demanding period before and after a new baby is born, which NCT antenatal and postnatal courses or services these couples had attended or were booked to attend, as well as other couples’ reasons for not attending them.

Planning your user recruitment

At People for Research, we usually kick-off recruitment by finding out more about the project’s requirements and objectives. Our goal is to identify any challenges and plan the recruitment. Ahead of working with the NCT, we knew that:

We were looking at a high-volume project and, in this case, big numbers would require a bespoke approach.

The high numbers also meant that we would need to find a good mix of people and that would require a different number of recruitment sources.

The NCT wanted to recruit couples, which could mean logistical issues when booking the participants in.

We planned a structured approach to the project that included:

1) A solid recruitment brief.

2) A screening document built in close collaboration with the researchers.

3) Constant communication with the client that included daily updates throughout the recruitment process.

4) A list of multiple sources of potential participants and targeted content for each platform to boost the application rates.

5) Regular communication with the participants ahead of the session, to make sure they remained engaged – this is part of the People for Research recruitment approach and an essential step in our process.

The result was a successful project all around, with dozens of couples recruited. We spoke to two of these participants, Emma and Jessica, to find out what they thought about the recruitment process and taking part in the research with their partners. They were both expectant/new mothers at the time of the research and had no personal experience of NCT classes.

Feedback from real participants in the NCT study

“I really enjoyed the session,” said Emma. “Two really lovely women came to our flat after work, which made it super easy as I was very pregnant. My husband and I were filmed [during the session], but we were made to feel very at ease. We were asked what support we felt we needed as soon-to-be parents, our perceptions of the NCT and its branding, as well as what we thought it could support us with.”

Jessica said “the session was relaxed and interesting. It involved some discussion of pre and post-birth and an activity involving different sessions we would use/not use, pay for, etc. The people doing the interview were friendly and easy to talk to, so it made conversation flow quite easily.”

According to Emma, taking part in the research was “quite cathartic.” By doing this with her partner, Emma was able to talk about the couple’s “expectations and anxieties together, and learnt some stuff about how my husband felt that I wasn’t aware of.” Jessica thought sharing this experience with her partner “was different and positive, because it meant that during the discussion we could both add to each other’s comments and give more detail. Also, at instances when we had differing opinions, we could discuss this further and explain exactly the individual reasoning for this in comparison to another ‘real life’ experience or opinion.”

Although Emma initially decided to take part because of the incentive, she “actually most enjoyed the chance to talk about the life-changing event of becoming parents together.” Jessica was pleased that, by taking part in the research, others would be able to gain from her experiences.

With the arrival of a new baby being such an important time in the life of any parent, the NCT knew it was essential to find out more about their audience’s decision-making process. Thanks to the many couples that took part in this project, the NCT gained valuable insight into the motivations and needs of soon-to-be and new parents making decisions to benefit both themselves and their most recent family member.

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If you would like to find out more about our in-house participant recruitment service for user testing or market research get in touch on 0117 921 0008 or info@peopleforresearch.co.uk.

About the author: Maria Santos is the Digital Marketing Manager at People for Research. You can find her on the People for Research’s Facebook or Twitter accounts, regularly engaging with potential participants, market research experts and the UX community.

About People for Research: We recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner with a number of end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.

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