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February 1, 2023
Incentives accelerate recruiting, thank participants, and help you collect better data with UX research—here’s how to manage them well.
Incentives do more than just attract quality participants to your study. Ultimately, offering great incentives helps you collect great data.
But if logistics aren’t your thing, managing and distributing incentives can be a nightmare. Nick Baum founded Tremendous, the payouts management platform, to take the pain out of that process. He joined us to chat about how Tremendous makes researchers’ lives easier, tips for managing research incentives, and how to choose the right type and amount of incentive.
Psst—if you came here looking for a quick answer to “how much of an incentive should I offer for my study?”, check out The User Research Incentive Calculator for a data-backed recommendation.
📌 Think you can skip out on incentives? Think again. Here's why incentives are non-negotiable for UX research (and how to offer them on a shoestring budget).
Nick Baum is the Co-founder and CEO of Tremendous, a payouts platform enabling businesses to send money, pre-paid cards, and gift cards to people around the world. Before Tremendous, Nick was the Co-founder and CEO of GiftRocket and the Quantitative Equity Analyst of MDT Advisers.
[00:00:00] Nick Baum: Don't try to roll your own solution. You are going to suffer the fate of everyone else who's tried to do this. There are all these gotchas. We've talked about many of them. If you're doing it internationally, absolutely. You're going to drive yourself crazy trying to run this program, even just being able to-- running this through a spreadsheet, even if you're just doing dozens is going to be much more complicated.
[00:00:26] Erin May: This is Erin May.
[00:00:28] John-Henry Forster: I'm John-Henry Forster and this is Awkward Silences.
[00:00:33] Erin: Silences. Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Awkward Silences. Today, we are here with Nick Baum. He's the CEO and co-founder of Tremendous. Tremendous is a platform for all sorts of incentives. Fittingly, today, we are going to talk about research incentives. Nick, thanks for joining us.
[00:00:58] Nick: A pleasure to be here. Thank you.
[00:01:00] John: Yes. We don't incentivize the guest on the pod, but Erin and I were joking that if they wanted to pay us to be guests, we'd be willing to be incentivized.
[00:01:08] Erin: All different of guests is with that tactic. Right?
[00:01:12] John: For sure.
[00:01:13] Erin: Yes. Awesome. Okay. Nick, you're thinking about incentives all the time. We think about incentives a decent amount here as wellthe biggest pain points that you are seeing that-- I mean, you created this company for a reason, so what about spoke to you in the market of possibilities?
[00:01:31] Nick: Well, it's a big problem for a lot of different companies across a lot of different verticals and if you are a company, you've got a user research team, you want to be focused on research. Focusing on incentives is really a second-order effect of trying to get good data. We tried to make that process as simple as possible, so people who are researchers can do what they were hired to actually do, which is do research.
[00:01:57] John: Nice. Let me play dumb for a second, which isn't that hard for me.
[00:01:59] Erin: Play. Yes.
[00:02:00] John: Yes. What is actually hard about it? I can go and buy gift cards and give them out to people. I have Venmo. I can send people cash. Where do teams get stuck where they actually try to do this at scale or do it well?
[00:02:09] Nick: Right. Great question because it seems like this should be the easiest thing in the world because if you have to give someone $50, it should be as simple as, I guess, in real life, opening your wallet, and handing someone $50. Why isn't it that simple online? It really should be. That's what we've tried to build. There are just so many gotchas when you start doing it at scale because there are all these things that you don't consider at the outset that will come up.
For example, let's say you're a user researcher on a team, and you've got maybe 10 different people on your team managing different budgets. Well, first of all, how are you going to manage those budgets? Second, where are your recipients? Are they domestic? Are they international? How do you know that you're sending them the right thing? What happens if the recipient receives something that doesn't work for them, or maybe they chose to receive PayPal and it bounces? Their PayPal account was blocked.
All of a sudden, you've got all these gotchas that have come and made this process extremely difficult if you've got hundreds or thousands of recipients. That doesn't even go into tax compliance and some of the other hairy areas, but if you multiply this problem by thousands of recipients, then all of your time starts to get occupied by just managing incentives rather than doing research.
[00:03:22] Erin: Yes. I was telling Nick before we started. I've started doing some experiments with some incentives for researchers, talk to sales to do other things, and smaller scale, like a dozen here, a dozen there, and immediately, you come up against some of these things.
For example, I was doing it with Amazon gift cards at the beginning. Love Amazon. No hate but, "Oh, I'm in France. This won't work for me." Okay. Well, how am I going to get a refund on my first thing and get a new one? It's difficult. Researchers are a big use case for you. Right? Nick, you work with lots of research teams?
[00:03:57] Nick: A lot of research teams. we've started with incentives. We do many, many different use cases. Tremendous is a payouts platform that helps businesses send money, gift cards, prepaid cards to people worldwide. Research is really one of the core verticals for Tremendous's work, with a ton of user research teams across tech companies, other businesses, market research, academic research, medical marketing incentives. We even work with governments that incentivize constituents to get vaccinated.
There are just so many different reasons why a company would need to pay people on a one-off basis. That's the key insight behind Tremendous is companies struggle to pay people if it's just $50 because otherwise if you can use payroll, that's simple. Companies, for example, in research, you don't have this relationship with a recipient where they're going to sign up for your payroll. That doesn't make any sense. That's too much of a hurdle, even just using PayPal for all of your recipients is too much of a hurdle because you don't know if all your recipients use PayPal. Even if they do, there're a ton of gotchas there.
[00:05:05] Erin: Yes. That's what you were talking earlier about how researchers want to research. They don't want to deal with incentive logistics, but also the people being paid don't want to deal with those logistics either. It's like you're using this incentive as a tool to motivate some behavior. In the case of research, I want you to participate in my research and I will pay you for your time to do that, but if there's friction in actually getting that incentive, that's no good for anybody. Right?
[00:05:31] Nick: Right. Exactly. The key is to make it super, super easy, not just for the senders, not just the companies, but for recipients. Ultimately, it's not useful to any research team, if it's not valuable to the end recipient. You have to provide a lot of different options for the recipient to make that process as seamless as possible for them to get something that's valuable and to actually get it without any errors.
[00:05:55] John: Yes. Totally, it's pretty easy to imagine how that can slip to becoming like a detrimental experience for someone without taking much. If you're getting like $25 to talk to somebody for a half hour, and then it takes a dozen emails back and forth to actually get the $25, it's kind of, like, "Well, at some point, I'm only breaking even here now because I've spent so much time."
[00:06:14] Nick: Right. Exactly. It's very difficult for support teams to handle questions that are with subject line, "Urgent. Where is my money?" That's not a fun one to receive.
[00:06:24] John: Yes. As a team, it sounds like most teams are probably quickly realizing, "Okay. We need some help here. This is hard. We've tried to do it a little bit in scrappy ways." Come to a tool like yours, starting set up, what are the things that they then need to do to be successful with it? Where can they still maybe mess it up or go wrong even as they look to bring in a true solution?
[00:06:45] Nick: The first thing is figuring out what are you going to offer your recipients and some companies might be too cute and think, "This is exactly what my recipients want." The best solution, really, is to turn on an entire catalog for your recipients, give them as much optionality as possible.
The most popular option right now is Visa prepaid cards followed by gift cards with Amazon in the lead, but there's no reason for a company to be so opinionated that they say, "I'm only going to offer gift cards. I'm only going to offer Visa cards." Turn on everything. If you're recipient even wants to donate their money to charity, allow them to do that. So, first and foremost, that's number one.
Number two is make sure that you've got your-- the structure set up so they can manage this with teams. You've got people with the right permissions to be able to send, to be able to track, to be able to get the finances out. You need to get the right people into the system with access to the right tools.
Then, maybe three is just making sure you understand all of the compliance pieces. Tremendous, for example, offers the ability to collect W-9s on behalf of recipients, making sure at the outset that your team understands what compliance is necessary so that you can use the tools to be compliant.
[00:08:01] Erin: Well, and just-- since we're here and on the topic, I'm sure this varies by country in different use case, but the basic, what? It's like $600 or something a year and you need the W-9, for folks listening? We cannot give tax advice--
[00:08:13] Nick: Right. Exactly.
[00:08:14] Erin: Something like that.
[00:08:15] Nick: Right. Add the disclosure. Please contact your tax folks, accountants.
[00:08:21] Erin: Right. Contact your tax professional. Yes.
[00:08:23] Nick: Right. Exactly. Discard everything we're about to say but, yes, in the United States.
[00:08:29] John: That's one, too, where I think it does impact the participant experience as well or the recipient experience. I spoke to an investment firm that was doing some diligence last year and they-- for the course of like two hours. They paid me a little bit over that amount, like just a margin. Then, I had this whole like tax thing I had to figure out at the end of the year and I was like, "I wish I had just been right on the other side of that," because it would've been worth giving up $50 to not have to complicate my taxes.
[00:08:50] Nick: Right. Who knew that less money is more money?
[00:08:53] Erin: Right. Sometimes. Sometimes
[00:08:54] John: Yes. Sometimes. A very specific question. You said recommendation would be just turn on the whole catalog, give people as much choice as possible. That seems to make a ton of sense. How do you recommend the teams then go about explaining that to potential recipients? We're going to give you $50 (however you want) or how do you give them a sense of what that all entails versus, like, "We're going to give you $50 and a gift card," or something like that?
[00:09:14] Nick: I would list out the options or you could just say, "We're going to give you $50." You can start there. Then, if your recipient has more optionality, that's even better, but you can enumerate the option saying, "Your choice." Gift cards. Visa cards. Money transfer if that's turned on, charity to notion, but I think the simplest is really just saying, "We're going to give you $50.
[00:09:35] John: Yes. I guess that's true. If you have enough options, it feels true. Right?
[00:09:37] Nick: Right.
[00:09:38] Erin: Knowing your audience a little, too, because particularly if you're doing research in like a B2B context, but potentially some B2C as well. A lot of researchers are not allowed to accept cash. Charity can be really compelling in those cases as well where they still have a compelling reason to participate but are-- and compliant with their organization's rules.
[00:09:58] Nick: Definitely. Definitely.
[00:09:59] John: Yes. That's a good tip. Yes. Do a little research with your user base to understand and then you can enumerate or put the categories in that are going to be like particularly relevant to them. Right?
[00:10:06] Erin: Right. How do you go about choosing the right amounts of an incentive? Is that something thought about much?
[00:10:13] Nick: We've definitely been asked that question many, many, many times. We actually don't do that much research at Tremendous, but we've looked into this because it's so important to so many of our clients. I know User Interviews has a tool that actually can spit out, "Hey, here's probably what you want to give for this duration, this survey type, this type of audience."
You need to factor in multitude of different factors to determine what's actually appropriate. What we've learned is that the average amount being paid for an hour in the US is $85. Sometimes, it goes up to $150. That, unsurprisingly, this amount has gone up over the past two years. I would use that probably as the rule of thumb but it's certainly going to vary depending on who the audience is. You're probably going to be paying, for example, if you have doctors as research participants more than someone without an MD. It really depends, but I think that rule of thumb where $85 for an hour is average is pretty helpful.
[00:11:25] Erin: That's good to know. Yes. I think a dollar a minute, like the floor, and then, up from there. People also don't necessarily factor in, are you commuting? Is this like an in-person thing where that's unpaid time to get there? Things like that factor in as well.
[00:11:41] Nick: Absolutely.
[00:11:42] John: I had actually a question on the in-person stuff because obviously, that's been less common over the past couple years, but it seems to be coming back. One thing I've heard from researchers in the past is for in-person sessions, they like the immediacy of having something to hand over, like handing the person a gift card in person or giving them cash, or whatever, maybe. Right? Probably not cash.
The teams that are using you, do you find that they, even for in-person stuff, they'll still do it through Tremendous and maybe just hit the button real-time, and be like, "Check your email," or something like that? Do you see that it varies depending on how the session's being facilitated?
[00:12:07] Nick: We've seen both and both can be done through Tremendous giving something immediate in-person physically or digitally. We've, of course, tried to shift this to digital. We think that is the absolute best way to do it because, again, you're giving optionality to your recipients. If you're giving something physically, that ties it to whether it's an Amazon card, Visa card, whatever it is, it's one option.
We've found that a lot of research are very, very opinionated about this. We've supported both the ability for researchers to order plastic Visa cards that can be loaded with value asynchronously so that you don't have to have stacks of a hundred-- $10,000 sitting at a desk for weeks. We've actually seen the digital solution be very, very successful.
The first time a researcher does it, they feel like they're going out on a limb. This is what they've always done, the physical distribution. It feels like a risk, but at the point where you've actually done this and you say, "Hey, check your email." You're going to have it now or in the next 5 minutes, 10 minutes. It gives that recipient optionality. They've converted to saying, "Hey, why am I going to keep these plastic Visa cards at my desk going forward?" It doesn't make that much sense operationally. It just becomes so much more easy.
You can track this for your recipients much better, too, because if, for whatever reason, there's some issue, maybe they say, "I lost my Visa Card." That's a pain. How do you deal with that? How do you figure out which card that was? How do you reissue that? Whereas, alternatively, if it's digital, you can just say, "All right. Well, let me click the reset button through our dashboard." There you go. You have it right now.
[00:13:50] Erin: Yes. I do think people are just getting more and more used to everything being digital in their lives certainly. I'm sure that there's some populations where you want that option, like you said, but I'm just picturing my shoebox of gift cards from my wedding 11-years-ago. I still have it Yes. Moving everything to digital makes a ton of sense.
[00:14:08] John: You called out the liability of having a stack of physical gift cards and just money sitting around, which makes a ton of sense, but I'd imagine there's a similar liability of in an organization of some size. You have a lot of people doing research who might be needing to pay out research incentives. I assume there's some sensitivity around giving anybody access to the keys to give out cash to folks and how you manage the budget and stuff because presumably, most people are not going to embezzle from their employer stuff, but you're going to have some sensitivity and governance around that. How do teams solve that? What's your recommendation there?
[00:14:38] Nick: Sure. It's similar for any type of SaaS organization. Whether there's money on the line, whether there's customer data, you want to have certain protections and controls over who can access what. With Tremendous, we have the ability to permission. Some folks are going to be able to send incentives and rewards. Some folks are just going to be able to export the data.
What's really most important is being able to audit all of this, being able to export this, and be able to track, "Well, did these budgets line up?" If you're able to have a tool that shows you how much was spent by each individual, then that gives you that auditability. Of course, there's a very strong disincentive for anyone who might otherwise, back in the old days, having a stack of Amazon gift cards, and one goes missing, that could have been literally anyone in the office.
Instead, if you've got a digital record, you can see, all right, well, you know exactly how much went to which individuals and was ordered by which folks on your team. It's super, super traceable and you can export this data, can be reviewed by multiple people on your team.
[Commercial Break Starts]
[00:15:45] John: All right. A quick awkward interruption here. It's fun to talk about user research, but you know what's really fun? It's doing user research and we want to help you with that.
[00:15:54] Erin: We want to help you so much that we have created a special place. It's called userinterviews.com/awkward for you to get your first three participants free.
[00:16:05] John: We all know we should be talking to users more so we've went ahead and removed as many barriers as possible. It's going to be easy. It's going to be quick. You're going to love it. Get over there and check it out.
[00:16:13] Erin: Then, when you're done with that, go on over to your favorite podcasting app, and leave us a review, please.
[Commercial Break Ends]
[00:16:22] Erin: Are you finding that-- I don't know how close you might be to this, but do most organizations have established budget or departments have budgets for incentives, or are they winging it as they go? How is this landscape of incentive management evolving as the technology evolves?
[00:16:39] Nick: Great question. It depends on the size of the organization. Larger organizations have much tighter controls around budgets and much more complicated controls around finances. As part of the ordering process, often, there will be an invoice that gets generated that specifies which project it's for, which researcher is attached to it. It goes to the finance team. The finance team has to send an email back approving it. Those are the joys of working at a larger company.
If you're at a startup, then it's probably much more loose where you say, "Okay. We're going to study this. What budget is that going to be?" You allocate it perhaps throughout the year.
We've seen that majority of companies that are using Tremendous per user research have a budget of $100,000 or greater. This is real money and that type of budget, that type of amount of money typically does have to be budgeted.
I think this has become more formalized, also is the user research, teams, and that the whole process behind doing research has become more formalized, too, over the past 5 to 10 years.
[00:17:44] John: To go in a different direction, people have realized, "Okay. This is painful. We need a solution." They get the gist of, "We should have a couple different options. Let's set this up," all that.
I think something that probably is still daunting or confusing for folks, even when there is a solution that enables it is the international piece with currencies and everything else because you're back to some challenges around how you display it. Do you need to display the amount in their local currency? Then, from a budgeting perspective, the exchange rate, when it's redeemed, and everything else. There's noise there.
What advice or recommendations do you have for people who are like, "Okay. We need to pay people in Europe. We have a bunch of users in Europe"? How do you wrap your head around that?
[00:18:18] Nick: Yes. You absolutely have to use an incentives platform. This is not something you can roll your own solution to. For example, Amazon has different cards and different territories. You can't just go to Amazon and say, "Hey, I want to run this international program." You're going to be forwarded onto a business development contact in the UK, one in Italy, one in France, one in Spain. You need to work with a company that has international baked into it. That's the only way to do this.
International is the number one headache for user-research teams. We received that feedback over and over and over again. We took a poll. What's your greatest challenge? It is doing international incentives.
Even if it's 10% of the spend going internationally, that's going to be 90% of a company's headache. For all the reasons that you mentioned, one, it's what you present to recipients. Two, how do you handle currency? Three, how do you handle language?
At Tremendous, the way we've handled this is, one, if you turn on the entire catalog, well, we're not going to show you things that aren't relevant to your area. We'll first geolocate the recipients. If you're in the UK, we'll show you all the options that work in the UK. All those options are going to be not denominated in GBP.
Now, as a sender, you can choose, "All right. Are we going to market this program in GBP or are we going to market it in US?" That's a question for, well, do you know where your recipients are? Do you want to simplify marketing for this? You can do it either way. Ultimately, if you choose GBP, then, the recipient will get exactly that amount. Alternatively, if you said, "We're just going to market it as $50 USD everywhere." Tremendous is going to do that conversion and say, "What is 50 USD in GBP?" When that recipient makes their selection, they'll get an option that works locally and is nominated in the right currency.
Now, the UK is very simple to handle language. Right? It's still English but it gets much more complicated if you're running a campaign across multiple different regions. We have language translation built into our service to enable it so that any researcher doesn't actually have to do the translation themselves. We've built into other APIs to help with that process. You can have one campaign specifying one currency with one message, and manage that internationally.
Alternatively, you can choose other denominations, other currencies, and do the translation yourself if you want, so multiple ways to skin that cat but it is a very, very challenging problem to try to handle on your own, even if it's just a few dozen incentives that a company is sending.
[00:20:58] Erin: I guess there's a few points in the life cycle of the research-participant relationship where incentives come into play. One is I'm going to present this incentive to you in the hopes that it will be compelling for you to want to be part of this research, apply, show up, and all those things that have to happen. Interest awareness. I'm there. All those things.
Then, they've actually participated. They've qualified to receive this incentive and now, we need to give them a way to redeem it. I'm curious about just any messaging tips along that life cycle in terms of how do you use the right language to make the incentive appealing. How do you use the right language to get-- because presumably, you want the participant to actually redeem the incentive to get the benefit of having to not lose it, to be able to find it, things like this. Yes. How do you think about messaging this easy-to-use, international-friendly, full-of-options incentive for folks?
[00:22:00] Nick: You're right. There are a few touch points. The first is the marketing. How do you get someone to participate? There, I'd go back to what did we say before, which is just-- I think you can keep it pretty simple, which is we're going to pay you $50 to receive your incentive. Maybe there's a link that show you can say, "See all the ways to redeem it here." It could be a tooltip. It could be a hyperlink if you wanted to add more detail.
I think just saying $50, that's pretty compelling already. That conveys the message you are being paid to participate in this. I could see that depending on the region, if there's some regions where recipients might think, "Hey, it's actually really hard for me to get paid in the country where I am. I have to double-check the way that I would be paid." Then, yes, I'd absolutely add more information on the method by which payment can be made available. I think that's pretty key.
Then, the next step is the participant participates. At the end, you want to confirm immediately, "Yes. You are going to be receiving your incentive. That can be immediate if it's built into the workflow. For example, Tremendous integrates with some other tools, survey tools, where at upon completion, the recipient is going to immediately get an incentive.
Now, in some cases, that can be delayed. There's some research teams that want to, perhaps, if this is-- they're not doing research in person. They haven't qualified this individual at the outset. They might want to review for fraud. They might want to make sense that this is not someone submitting duplicate entries, for example.
It can be immediate. If it is immediate, just give them the incentive right away. If it's not, then, set expectation for when they will receive it because the support tickets start coming in when participants don't know when they're getting their incentive. If you can be clear about expectations, it's totally fine. You're going to receive this by Wednesday, and then, you'll have the option to choose X, Y, and Z.
At that point, they receive an email and says, "Here's $50," click through, and then they can claim. It's super simple.
[00:24:11] Erin: Yes. I will say researchers tell your participants what to expect. If you're using a platform like User Interviews, mark those sessions complete right away because that's what triggers that incentive getting paid in our platform. You're absolutely right. Those support tickets do start coming in pretty quickly. [laughs]
[00:24:29] John: I saw something joking about this the other day that was like, "How to tell people something?" Step one, tell them about what you're about to tell them. Step two, tell them. Step three, remind them of what you just told them.
[00:24:39] Erin: Yes. Well, that's marketing. That's how it works.
[00:24:44] John: A question to go a little bit more nuanced here is because one thing we've heard from researchers is-- especially when they're talking to their own users, a lot of concern about brand, experience, trustworthiness, and all that stuff.
How do you help people navigate--? Okay. They've mostly been interacting with us maybe through branded emails from our company, our branded Zoom, et cetera. Now, we're asking to go to this other platform to redeem the incentive and it's a money thing where they're suspicious or feel like they're getting scammed. How do you make sure that handoff goes smoothly?
[00:25:08] Nick: Yes. I continue the branding. Again, it comes to expectation and communicating, "You are going to receive $50." If they say, "This subject line might be ACME who sent you $50." If they're coming from an experience of they're doing an interview for ACME Inc, and then, they receive an email in the next two hours saying, "ACME Inc sent you $50." That's not too suspicious.
Beyond that, Tremendous, for example, has the ability to white label that email is coming from that client. It can be from acmeinc.com. I think establishing those data points, just a clear narrative around why someone's getting the money, getting in a reasonable timeframe, and then having those flags of, perhaps, the domain name being the same as the company goes a long way. We haven't seen too many cases where recipients have been concerned about the authenticity after they've participated in the study.
[00:26:01] Erin: Yes. I think that's a good point, though, just like you were saying with letting people know when they're going to get the incentive. If it's not white labeled, if it's not clear who it's coming-- Let them know. When is this going to come? Who's it going to come from? There are so many of these phishing scams and everything now. I can imagine someone being suspicious if it wasn't totally clear what was going on.
[00:26:21] John: "This is your CEO and I'm sending you an incentive."
[00:26:22] Erin: We get tons of those. I don't know if you do.
[00:26:24] John: A related question. You mentioned the support piece a little bit of people don't get their incentive or they're having issue with it. They're going to tell you about it pretty quickly, but now that there's two kind of services involved, how does the handoff on support go?
Obviously, if they don't have it, I'm probably going to reach out to the researcher and be like, "Where's my incentive," or whatever, but then, if I'm having an issue or I messed up the redemption, I thought I was in UK, but I meant to do something else or whatever. Is your team handling that or is it divided? How does that part of it work?
[00:26:48] Nick: Yes. We like to handle it. We put our support email front and center, email@example.com, but there's some companies that say, "We actually want to be the first line of defense for all support inquiries." They'll continue to put their email in some of the messaging, but we tend to prefer to take on all of the support we can because our name is behind it, to some extent, and we want to offer great support to any recipient that's having any issues.
Yes. We're able to-- I think our SLA is something like one hour response time for these supporting inquiries.
[00:27:20] Erin: What are the most common questions other than, "Where's my money?"
[00:27:24] Nick: I mean, that is number one but a long, long stretch and reasonably so, reasonably so. Other questions specifically for recipients?
[00:27:31] Erin: Yes. There might be some lessons here that could be interesting to researchers, what to anticipate before using a platform, or while using a platform.
[00:27:42] Nick: I think you've stumped me.
[00:27:43] Erin: Pretty much, "Where is my money?"
[00:27:44] Nick: That's really much-- People are happy when they get their money.
[00:27:48] Erin: It's different flavors of that, yes, or, "How do I redeem it?" "I have the email. I don't know what to do with it," or mechanics of that.
[00:27:55] Nick: It's so dead simple a process that it's like you click the button and then you click the thing that looks like an Amazon card and you got your Amazon card, so not too many questions after that.
[00:28:05] John: How does that actually work, though? Erin did a research session with me. I haven't paid her. She reaches out to Tremendous-
[00:28:12] Erin: Classic
[00:28:12] John: -as being like, "Hey, where's my money?" You're like, "Who is Erin? Why is she asking?" Are you able to map it back to the researcher somehow? It seems like you probably have to get in contact with the person who owes the money at that point. Is that right or--?
[00:28:23] Nick: Yes. Well, if the recipient hadn't received the funds yet, they hadn't received the incentive, the recipient wouldn't have our email address. They would actually reach out.
[00:28:32] John: Oh, yes. They wouldn't know about Tremendous yet. Right.
[00:28:35] Nick: Right. Exactly. They're more than welcome to reach out, though, if they want. We can talk. We'll chat but-
[00:28:40] John: Makes sense.
[00:28:41] Nick: -we wouldn't have much to chat about.
[00:28:44] Erin: What are, I guess, some of the top mistakes you see researchers make when doing incentives or missed opportunities or just general advice that maybe we haven't covered yet when we think about incentives in your deep experience, thinking about incentives?
[00:28:58] Nick: I'd start with, one, use incentives and the best research-- Well, that's the first question. Are you going to use incentives? Of course, it's tempting to not use incentives for the obvious reason that it's cheaper to not use incentives. If you have a somewhat tight budget, you'd prefer to get data without spending any more cash.
The best researchers that we've talked to have been adamant that you absolutely have to use incentives. One, of course, it elicits more participation, but free surveys, it's so biased, the data that you get. You are only getting responses from people who are willing to do this for free. You are going to see a drastic difference between the quality of data that you get when you use incentives and when you don't use incentives. I think the vast majority of researchers after they've done a number of studies do fall into the camp that they're generally going to use incentives. Then, number two is don't try to roll your own solution. You are going to suffer the fate of everyone else who's tried to do this. There are all these gotchas. We've talked about many of them. If you're doing it internationally, absolutely. You're going to drive yourself crazy trying to run this program.
Even just being able to-- running this through a spreadsheet, even if you're just doing dozens is going to be much more complicated. Funding all these different vendors, when you have your one recipient who doesn't have a PayPal account, and then, you have to go to Amazon and set up an account there, that's going to be a pain for you.
Incentive platforms, many of them, including Tremendous, are free to use. There's really no reason not to do it. I would say find an incentive platform at the outset. There's just no downside to doing it.
[00:30:51] John: Makes sense.
[00:30:51] Erin: Love it. Simple. Yes. Also, it's like the penny gap, like going from not paying an incentive to paying when the dollar is huge, and maybe the next phase is pay a fair one, pay a good one, because similar idea. You get what you pay for and pay people the best that you can afford. Obviously, some startups would like to pay more maybe than they're able, but pay the most you can afford in terms of what's a fair rate for folks.
[00:31:19] John: Totally.
[00:31:20] Erin: Awesome. Well, nick, thanks so much for being with us. Tremendous is a great platform and providing great service. Check out our incentive report and calculator and you'll be all set to go with incentives for your research efforts.
[00:31:35] Nick: Thank you so much for having me. This was fun.
[00:31:37] Erin: Thanks, Nick.
[00:31:38] John: Yes. Thanks.
[00:31:43] Erin: Thanks for listening to Awkward Silences brought to you by User Interviews.
[00:31:48] John: Theme music by Fragile Gang.
VP, Growth & Marketing
Left brained, right brained. Customer and user advocate. Writer and editor. Lifelong learner. Strong opinions, weakly held.