Screeners for success

Kay, Director of Business Operations at BEAM and Give Opinions, shares her thoughts on the true purpose of a screener, and how to make it work harder to deliver research success.

Recruitment challenges are the things that put fire in the bellies of a project manager at BEAM. 
Finding solutions to satisfy respondent specifications, seeking and securing niche recruits, and balancing those all-important quotas are some of the behaviours that make up our resourceful company value.
Over the past 18 months, our PM teams have been more resourceful than ever to deliver for our clients across the globe. With respondent show rates down, and time taken to secure an on-quota respondent at an all-time high, our research revealed three clear reasons why:

The conclusions were clear: to recruit quality respondents for quality research, we need to re-look at how we recruit.

Check your toolbox

A screener is a survey that determines if applicants meet the criteria required to be invited to contribute to the research project. 
A screener is the only tool available to market research recruiters.
To many, a screener may seem simple enough, but underestimate it at your peril! It MUST contain all the essential checks to provide the balances that lead to the best possible outcomes for all involved.

Write for the right role

When it comes to research interactions, think about BBC One’s Dragon’s Den.
The respondents are the Dragons – the money beside them is the time and effort they are willing and able to invest into participating if they like what they hear.
The recruiter is the entrepreneur – they seek the right investors for their business, or in this scenario, project.
The screener is the pitch – easy to understand and slick to present, the screener must excite and interest respondents to want to participate in the research project. It’s a research recruiter’s elevator pitch.

Be brief, be bold, be gone

The average screener is around 27 questions long. Yet, the optimum number of questions for a screener is around 12 questions.
Focus your screening questions on ‘need to know’ only. Most secondary, and almost always tertiary requirements, have a unique tendency to fall out naturally, so long as the demographic requirements are met.

Always Be Closing

Everyone wishes they had more time.
So, write and order your questions to eliminate applicants who don’t fit the respondent specifications first. They’ll be thankful for their precious time back, and you’ll only have data worth your time.

Adapt or fail

It’s essential to attract the right audience. When you have their attention, the way you mimic their characteristics through the screener, makes the project more authentic, and more desirable to contribute to.

Consider your target audience throughout your screener origination by:

  • Write for the channel(s) most likely to attract them
  • Use a tone of voice, familiar language, pace and choose question types that connect, to extract the most from them
  • Make the format adaptable to fit the needs of the applicant e.g. phase questions over time, use multiple channels for screening
  • Consciously consider the distractions you’re competing against. Write and deploy the screener to break and overcome these barriers.

‘Am I bovvered?!’

46% of Give Opinions applicants want to know the project purpose before they apply to take part. Make the purpose clear and meaningful to your target audience.
The biggest competition we face in recruiting are twofold –
1. Other things respondents could be doing, and getting paid for
2. Other things respondents could be doing, were enjoyment outweighs any incentive
Providing a much more compelling reason to apply and participate than a £ sign, means better buy in and better results.

Sorry, you lost me…

It’s official, the average adult human has an attention span of 8.75 seconds. A gold fish has an attention span of 9 seconds.

Respondents won’t stick around for a long time, so let’s make it a good time:

  • Make the questions in your screener short and snappy
  • Take out the heavy lifting by providing lists of options to select from
  • Switch up question formats to change the pace
  • Put questions that require thought upfront when engagement is higher
  • Use open ended questions as qualifiers, and use them sparingly

Hopefully, the above has given you some direction that will help to improve your screener writing. If the task still feels overwhelming, drop us a line, at BEAM we are here to help.


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