I-Tracks, an online research organization, published some helpful tips about research incentives in their newsletter, available at this link: Press Room :: Newsletter :: Article Archive :: Itracks.
Face-to-face focus groups are more well established, and a good recruiter can usually provide some guidance as to the current going rate. Online is still emerging, and frequently the participants don't know what they are getting into.
Author Lisa Lowe suggests the following as a starting point for online projects ($USD)
- $50 to $75 for general consumers
- $100 to $150 for professionals
Online Focus Groups:
- $15/day for general consumers
- $25 to $50/day for professionals
Bulletin Board Focus Groups:
With professionals, the amounts are really an acknowledgement of their time, and that you value their contribution. Of course in some instances, notably executives, they are unlikely to be able to accept a cash incentive, and you need to be more creative wtih your recognition.
Another variable is how much time you ask them to commit to the project. Typically Bulletin Boards run over three days, with respondents asked to commit a certain amount of time each day. B2B projects often generate very detailed responses, and respondents will often take the time to read all the comments. This is great, of course, but it does add to the time they are spending.
Lisa makes another good point about sending out incentives quickly. Delays don't help the cause of research one bit. And if the sponsor is known to the participants, then it just makes the company look cheap or disorganized. The 30 day accounts payable standard does not apply here. Ten days is the practical limit, before respondents will start phoning and asking what happened to their cheque.