Participant Engagement is Product Management

Zoe Dowling, Senior Vice President of Research at FocusVision, shares how to get actionable insights from research participants and her approach to turning data into impactful stories.


For Zoe Dowling, Senior Vice President of Research at FocusVision, connecting with research participants is a personal passion in her role as a researcher. A heightened focus on improving participant engagement can have a major impact on every aspect of the insights industry.

“How can we help people who are kind enough to come participate in our research, and how can we help them get the most out of the experience, so that we can also get the best possible data?”

Investing the resources and time into emerging qualitative research practices such as online communities and remote ethnography can lead to a deeper understanding of participants and a richer view into their lives, Zoe says.

But keeping participants engaged is another story. For that, she recommends creating a good user experience, having them participate in creative activities, and providing incentives that go beyond gift cards.

“When we talk about incentives, generally we’re thinking about a monetary return or incentive. And that’s important. The other piece of it, though, is that if people understand the value of the research and they want to give their feedback, then there’s an intrinsic incentive there,” she explains. “If somebody feels that they can help make a product better, they’re probably going to be engaged and invested in giving their opinion,” she says.

Similarly, stakeholder engagement is another important consideration. “As much as we’ve talked about participant engagement for people completing our research and participating in our questions, there is engagement for those people who are listening to the findings,” she says.

When sharing and reviewing results with key stakeholders, find a way to tell a powerful story with key qualitative findings.

“You want the stakeholders to connect with the data, you want them to connect with what they’re hearing. There’s a connection that builds, and that’s going to drive an action, because of the impact that it’s had,” she says.

In this episode, you’ll learn a lot about participant engagement, emerging research practices, and storytelling.

Here are the highlights: 

Zoe Dowling

Senior Vice President of Research, FocusVision

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