Live Online IDIs: Unlocking Real-Time Consumer Insights for Better Business Decisions

Unlike static surveys, online in-depth interviews allow you to have real conversations with real people, uncovering their thoughts, feelings, and preferences in real-time.

You can ask follow-up questions and delve deeper into why a customer makes a certain choice or has a certain perception. This rich level of detail leads to deeper and more impactful insights.

But only if you know how to use it correctly.

What are Online In-depth Interviews?

Two individuals engaged in a live video call on Voxpopme for interviews.

Online in-depth interviews (IDIs) are a dynamic and interactive form of qualitative research that enables you to dig deep into consumer perceptions, experiences, and preferences.

Why you should include online in-depth interviews in your qual research toolbox

Unlike traditional IDIs, which are often conducted face-to-face, online live IDIs use market research technology to connect researchers and participants in real-time, regardless of their physical locations. Breaking geographical barriers this way allows for a broader and more diverse research participant pool.

And unlike focus groups where responses can be influenced by group dynamics, you get pure responses from each individual online IDI participant.

There’s also a higher level of engagement from participants in IDIs. Having your participants present and in an active conversation fosters more attentiveness and investment in the session, leading to more thoughtful and detailed responses.

On top of that, you also get immediate feedback in online live IDIs instead of waiting days for survey responses. That way you can gauge initial reactions and emotions that are often lost in non-live formats.

The dynamic nature of live IDIs also permits on-the-fly adjustments to questioning, enabling you to delve deeper into responses that pique interest or probe areas that may not have been initially considered.

What do you need to set up online IDIs?

To conduct effective online live IDIs, a reliable and user-friendly technological setup is essential. This includes a stable internet connection, high-quality video conferencing tools, and tools for recording and analyzing live interviews.

The live interviews platform you use significantly impacts the flow of the session, with features like recorder and real-time note-taking allowing you to focus on connecting, not documenting.

If you’re the moderator, you have a pivotal role to play. You’re responsible for managing the tech, preparing the discussion guide, and bringing your excellent interviewing skills. 

You guide the conversation, probe deeper into responses, and maintain engagement, all while navigating the virtual environment. Participants, on their end, are expected to share honest and thoughtful insights, facilitated by the moderator’s skill in creating a comfortable and open dialogue space.

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How to Take Advantage of the Biggest Benefit of Online Live IDIs

Probing is a critical technique (and arguably the biggest advantage) in online live IDIs. It allows moderators to dig beneath the surface of initial responses, revealing the underlying motivations, preferences, and attitudes of consumers.

Effective probing can transform a simple interview into a rich source of insights, providing depth and context that would otherwise remain untapped.

Techniques and Strategies for Effective Probing

Moderators can employ various probing techniques to encourage participants to expand on their responses. These include:

  • Echo probing: Repeating the last word or phrase a participant has said, encouraging them to elaborate further.
  • Clarification probing: Asking for more details or examples to clarify vague or general statements.
  • Reflective probing: Reflecting on what the participant has said to confirm understanding or to encourage them to consider their response from another perspective.
  • Silence: Using pauses strategically to give participants time to think and provide more detailed answers.
  • Elaborative probing: Encouraging participants to elaborate on their responses by asking open-ended questions like, “Can you tell me more about that?”

For example, consider a participant in an online live IDI who mentions they prefer Brand X over Brand Y due to its “better quality.” A skilled moderator might use a combination of the above techniques to delve deeper:

  • Moderator: “You mentioned ‘better quality.’ Can you describe what ‘better quality’ looks like for you?”
  • Participant: “Well, the products last longer and perform better.”
  • Moderator: “Interesting. Can you give me an example of a product that lasted longer?”
  • Participant: [Provides a specific example]
  • Moderator: “And how did that make you feel about Brand X?”
  • Participant: “It made me trust them more and feel like they understand what I need.”

Through this probing, the moderator discovers that “better quality” for this participant is synonymous with durability and performance, leading to increased trust in the brand. Aha! Insight.

This level of detail provides actionable insights that can guide product development and marketing strategies.

Using Insights from Online Live IDIs

In product development, for instance, insights can help identify unmet needs in the market, guiding the ideation phase to ensure the product concept is aligned with consumer desires. During the design phase, you can incorporate feedback on prototypes or product concepts to refine the product’s features and usability. Post-launch, IDIs can continue to offer insights for ongoing product enhancement and iteration.

In marketing, insights gleaned from online live IDIs are invaluable assets in shaping effective marketing strategies.

For one, you can use these insights to develop detailed customer personas. By understanding the motivations, challenges, preferences, and behaviors of your audience, you can create personas that reflect the real nuances of your target market.

The detailed insights from IDIs can also allow marketers to create more personalized and targeted messages. Using the language, pain points, and aspirations of your audience, you can craft messages that speak directly to them, increasing engagement and response rates.

Also, knowing where your customers spend their time and how they prefer to receive information allows you to allocate your marketing resources more efficiently, ensuring that your messages are seen by the right people at the right time.


Online live IDIs are a powerful tool for gaining in-depth consumer insights that can significantly influence product development and marketing strategies.

To maximize the benefits of online live IDIs, however, you need to:

  1. Carefully select participants who represent your target audience to ensure the insights are relevant and actionable.
  2. Develop open-ended questions that encourage detailed responses – and use probing techniques to dig deeper into topics.
  3. Analyze the data meticulously, looking for patterns, themes, and anomalies that can inform your business strategies.
What’s a question you’d like to ask consumers?