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Is Your Online Qualitative Research Secure? Here’s What You Need for Security and Privacy Compliance

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The digital transformation of online qualitative research has been a boon to chief insights officers looking to scale. Virtual customer feedback has meant greater access to respondents, their voices...and their personally identifiable information (PII).

This brave new world of greater access to respondents has also left insights professionals and the companies they work for more vulnerable to privacy violations, security weaknesses and data breaches — especially those in financial, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries, or in regions with stricter compliance regulations like the European Union.

That’s because, while automation has moved the needle in how qualitative research can scale, most tech-enabled management systems don't elegantly address security and compliance vulnerabilities inherent in online respondent management.

Why should marketing insights professionals, including chief insights officers, product marketers and other CMI researchers care? While your company may not think that security is an issue, there is a growing gulf between how secure organizations think they need to be vs. how concerned consumers are about privacy.

According to a McKinsey survey of marketing leaders, 64% said they don’t think regulations will limit their current practices, while 51% said they don’t think consumers will limit access to their data. However, surveys have also shown that over 90% of consumers are concerned about their online privacy.

As respondents’ concerns grow over how their data is managed, insights teams’ work in managing, executing and storing PII has become cumbersome, leaving the door open for violations of GDPR, HIPAA and others.

It is paramount that organizations meet the moment, making sure that compliance functionality advances at the speed of innovation. Across every sector, insights professionals need to rethink security strategies. 

Today, your online qualitative research is not secure and may be at risk if it doesn’t include the following:

  • Single-sign on authentication (SSO) for identity access and management 
  • Third party risk management for GDPR and ISO 20071 compliance 
  • Encryption and pseudonymization 

The good news is, there are several advantages to using a purpose-built tool made by, and for, market insights and research experts. has developed consent form functionality that works directly within the respondent management workflow.

Our Consent Forms are helping clients around the globe meet compliance at various stages of respondent management including post-qualification screening, before they enter the interview, or both. We store the consent forms within the project the respondent is associated with and make it simple to execute research projects at scale.

An example of where this is particularly useful is in the management of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Our system can manage NDAs for organizations like auto manufacturers, agencies and media companies, and it can send an NDA or NDA/consent form combo prior to a session or respondent pre-task/homework. It can also require signature in the session flow — but it will always require consent form completion before joining a session.

It’s features like these, further enabled through HelloSign, that ensure consumers’ data is where it should be at all times.

The greater the access to more consumers, the greater the demand for security and privacy compliance. If your organization hasn’t done so already, it’s time to proactively work towards greater compliance workflows that keep respondents’ and companies’ best interests in mind.

Now is the time to build a security compliance process into the architecture of online qualitative research programs at scale.

​​Jim Longo is the co-founder and chief strategy officer at, a purpose-built, smart video platform for insights and empathy. He brings over 25 years of domain expertise in the market research industry. Jim is considered a thought leader with regards to online behavior and market research technology. He has consulted with brands and research agencies around the world on how to have insightful online conversations and was instrumental in building the first global online qualitative research practice at Harris Interactive (acquired by Nielsen). There, he led a team that conducted more than one thousand online groups in the first three years of its existence.

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