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4 Ways that Covid has Helped Sylver to Up Its Game on Participant Recruitment

by Jacqueline Walker

My job as a recruiter is to find the best participants to engage in the qualitative studies happening at Sylver. Covid-19 has changed the narrative of our participants, but not the quality.

To maintain (and elevate) the quality of our research participants throughout the pandemic, we’ve had to reflect and refine with frequency on our processes for recruitment. The results have been astounding — the majority of projects close with 95 - 100% engagement, 50% open rate, and 40% click rate and with the repeated client accolade of “these are fantastic recruits!”

How have we done that? I attempt to give a peek “under the hood” with this blog post.

We prioritize the “human component” of study outreach

This quote has been a North Star for me throughout the pandemic:

After the initial rush to respond to the pandemic, now is the time to identify what is going to best help people going forward – practically and emotionally – and in doing so help ensure the companies we work for ride out this crisis as well as possible.”


It acknowledges that we are all going through a lot — whether the “lot” is visible to the outside world or not.

People do not need to participate in our research studies. It’s an “extra” in their lives — on top of everything else they are trying to juggle and manage. So in order to get the attention and priority that it takes for a participant to want to step into a study and fully give it their all once there, they need to feel excited, engaged and valued.

To that end, we have steadfast commitment to “being human” in all of our recruitment outreach. This means that each ad and email invitation for research participation is personalized and tailored for the participant criteria of that study. Nothing is put on auto-pilot. We have an internal process for ensuring that every outreach that goes out leverages the best knowledge that we have as of today on how best to appeal to the interests of our target participants. For example, social ads that we use to support recruitment pass through the hands of the whole recruitment and research team before they are sent out. We also have feedback loops built into our outreach process, ensuring that we can optimize outreach strategies in real-time, as projects are in flight.

This process takes more time than a “numbers driven” outreach approach, however, the result is a pool of qualitative research participants that feel seen and excited to engage in the study for which they have been recruited.

We’re available for questions via multiple modes of contact — and can alleviate fears of phishing or scams quickly

We do a lot of B2B recruitment at Sylver. As a result, there can be some leariness around “why are you reaching out to me? Is this a legit opportunity?”

We alleviate this concern in two ways:

  1. We intentionally discuss for each study from whom the outreach emails and/or invitations should come. Sometimes they come from our trusted recruitment partners. Sometimes they come from the founder of Sylver Consulting, Brianna Sylver, directly. Regardless of the source, there is a person behind each of those reach outs, not a general mailbox.
  2. We make ourselves available for questions — via email, phone and text.

We make it a point to put our names to projects, furthering that intent to humanize our outreach process. The result is that participants feel as though they are in a relationship with us, which ultimately translates into better study participation overall.

We acknowledge that incentives are more than money

An article by Virtual Incentives posed the question to 1,500 consumers “What incentive model is most appealing to you?” And what they found is that “...across the board Visa or store gift cards are almost twice as appealing as any other reward system” because of their flexibility.

Incentives are an important strategy element of the recruitment process. They often become the initial reason “why” someone chooses to step into a project and are a big motivator for continuing throughout the engagement. But the incentive means more than the money itself. It’s a symbol of respect, acknowledging that our participant holds insight and knowledge around a topic that we do not and that we value that knowledge and insight so much that we’re willing to pay them for that expertise.

The speed at which incentive payments are received is another way that we underscore the value and respect that we hold for our research participants here at Sylver. We always deliver incentives within 5 - 7 days. To our knowledge, others in the industry might take weeks to months to deliver incentives. That lag in time doesn’t connote the “we value you” message that Sylver wants our participants to feel.

Every touchpoint is executed with the intention to create a long standing relationship with potential study recruits

The curation of a participant panel is the way in which we nurture participant relationships for the long-term.

Participants get into the panel in one of two ways:

  1. They are assessed to be a stellar participant from our field team, meaning they have fully and completely participated in a past projects, while offering great perspective to the topic of that project; or
  2. They were not chosen to participate in that study. Individuals who join the ongoing panel for Sylver Consulting get transitioned into the panel once the recruiters have quality checked this individual.

Having this participant panel helps us — especially in more consumer-based recruits — to recruit quickly for clients, often being able to accomplish recruitment goals in 5 business days vs. 2 weeks.

The Result

We have very engaged and targeted participants in the studies that Sylver Consulting fields.

For instance, in just the last two days we have received a handful of reviews that showcases participants valuing their experiences. As demonstrated in the following testimonials from past research participants:

Recently completed a Sylver study and it was engaging and informative, as well as thought-provoking. Friendly-user tools, polite participants, very quick and responsive communications and supports, and I enjoyed playing a role in voicing opinions about our pharmacy industry, as well as access for prescription funding. I look forward to any opportunity to again participate in future studies.”
Great company to work with. They have clear expectations of your participation, interesting and thought provoking questions and quick payment. It is apparent through their presentation of the information and questions/discussions that they work hard to thoroughly investigate information and opinions on the part of their clients. I would highly recommend and work with them again.”

And that positive engagement experience is acknowledged and valued by the clients of Sylver Consulting. Here’s what one of our clients shared last week:

Interviews are going well. Lots of great information! You have done an excellent job at getting recruits. They are so fantastic.”

Net takeaway — the details matter and the Sylver Consulting team is committed to making sure every detail is addressed with attention so that the result is positive all around.

Learn how Sylver can combine strong recruiting with actionable insights for your research project.

About the Author

Jacqueline Walker is our Market Research Recruiter. On a daily basis, Jacqueline builds and maintains internal qualitative and quantitative datasets to obtain the best participants for Sylver's projects. She also collaborates with the Sylver Consulting team to ensure our client's overall needs are being met. Jacqueline graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Degree in Communication. She has a strong background in marketing and business development.

  • 2022
  • Qualitative Research
  • Methods

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