So you’re PUMPED and ready to take your product to the next level by gathering valuable user insights and ensuring its success in a fast-paced market? A critical step is recruiting the right audience, but it can be a daunting task, but it needn't be.

Participant recruiting is the act of defining, finding and managing representatives of your target audience for use in user research.

We've got you covered with this comprehensive guide that will walk you through everything you need to know about recruiting the right participants. From determining the number of participants you need, to deciding on appropriate compensation, we'll provide you with tips and tricks to make recruiting far less “nail-bitingly” stressful.

So let's dive in and start gathering those insights


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You may ask yourself, how far do I go when defining my audience? and unfortunately, this is where people tend to overcomplicate things.

We know that recruiting can be tricky (there is an entire industry built around it), but it is not impossible and can be highly rewarding; you might even have some fun along the way

How to define your Audience

Who says identifying your target audience has to be boring? Gather your team, put on some tunes, and throw a persona party!

The common approach is to define your target audience based on what they like and love, creating fake bios and demographic profiles, but this information is often not highly relevant to user testing and feels fictional.

At GoTestify recommend capturing real and actionable audience information and then sharing these deeper ‘persona profiles’ with your team.

View an industry guide on defining your audience

Get Social

Social media can be a goldmine for identifying your target audience. Use social media platforms to research potential users and gather information on their interests, preferences, and behaviours. You can even use social media advertising to target specific demographics.

Ask the experts

Sometimes, the best way to identify your target audience is to ask the experts. Reach out to industry influencers, thought leaders, and experts in your field for their insights on who your ideal customer might be. Not only will you gain valuable information, but you'll also start building relationships within your industry.

Embrace the Unknown

Real players come in all shapes and sizes, a narrow recruit may be useful early on, but a broader audience will give more actionable insights and will closely resemble future players. So be open-minded from the start and willing to adjust your user testing strategy as you learn more about your users over time.

View our guide on why General Recruitment Gets the Best Insight

Pro Tip

Don’t let preconceived notions dictate your recruitment, let a broader audience speak to you.


We’ve arrived at the different methods and ways in which you can recruit participants. Exciting! Technically, there are an almost infinite amount of ways of acquiring people to take part in your testing; however, below would be typical industry methods.

Recruitment Options

Recruiting for testing follows the same process as acquiring new users for a game.

Internal Recruitment

Sometimes you may want to test with participants that are right under your nose, such as coworkers and/or friends and family. If you decide to conduct internal testing with coworkers, ensure they have had no involvement in the design or development of the product you are testing. If you are running basic usability testing to identify any obvious challenges to fun, using internal testers can be super effective and insightful!

The same with your family - if your mom recognizes this is what you’ve been talking about at the family BBQ, she will most likely have a biased opinion, but your cousin Jamie who never shows up to family gatherings, might be okay.

Is this method extremely targeted? No. But it is still valid, cheap and relatively easy to gather feedback.

  • Fast and cheap (free!).
  • Easy to manage.
  • It can be great for general usability testing.
  • Most likely not your target audience if seeking deeper insights, e.g. enjoyment.
  • Friends, family and coworkers may be biased if not tested in their environment.

In-House Recruitment

In-house recruiting is when you control most, if not all, of the recruiting process.

There are several ways that you can conduct your recruiting in-house, and we’ll cover the two most common that we see here at Go Testify.

Engage your community

The obvious requirement here is that your company, studio or IP has a fan base, but if not, it’s a great idea to start building a community early into the game’s lifecycle.

View our guide on recruiting your own participants

Your community may exist in various online channels like discord, social media, in-game chat or internet forums etc. and setting up these community channels has never been easier. We recommend sending out a user testing sign-up survey to build your own team of ninja user testers, enabling you to screen/profile this audience and grow a list of eager, game hungry fans.

  • A simple, personal communication on community channels is faster and easier than finding participants from scratch.
  • Helps build rapport, by showing people their opinion matters.
  • Depending on the size of your community, this can be done frequently and at scale.
  • Great for late feature/difficulty testing, or A/B testing game mechanics with those who had tested before.
  • You have to manage a database of people that have opted in to being contacted in the future.
  • Run the risk of over-engaging with your users during testing, which can lead to lower levels of involvement as well as lower quality feedback.
  • You’ll only be getting feedback from engaged fans of the IP or studio which will narrow or skew feedback for wider markets.

Acquiring via Social Media

You know, social media! Look, when your grandparents are sharing political memes on Facebook, it’s safe to say that social media has a broad reach (also, yikes meema and papa) and when you want to recruit participants, it pays to be where participants are.

You can recruit participants through popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Reddit, just to name a few. Think of where your target audience is likely to spend (waste) their time.

With most social platforms, you can recruit through paid advertisements (ads), fan pages, personal messages, post in groups, e.g. search Reddit, subreddit groups, and you may just find who you’re looking for. When using online advertising, each social platform has great advertising setup guides to get your user test recruit launched fast!

  • Can be relatively fast and simple to launch ads.
  • Reach a diverse global audience with the ability to create highly targeted ad campaigns.
  • From mainstream to niche, social media offers a range of options to reach your intended audience.
  • You must understand each platform's user base and engagement patterns to advertise effectively on social media.
  • The quality of your data may require additional effort because social media ad visibility cannot be fully controlled.
  • Authenticating social media users can be challenging, but a reliable screening process can help.

Pro Tips

Focus your ad creative on what motivates people to provide honest feedback on new and exciting games over incentives or rewards.

Create an ad template for each title or genre of game that you can quickly reuse for other user test recruiting campaigns.

External Recruitment

We mentioned previously that recruiting can be hard. If someone said, “Prove it”, a quick Google search for ‘recruitment help’ would point to an entire industry that exists to specifically help with it. External recruiting is when you reach out to one of these third party vendors to recruit participants for you. Recruitment vendors usually come in two forms, general and specialized

Working with recruitment agencies

So, you've found a potential match and now it's time to get down to business. The first step in the process is to provide a demographic screener that outlines the type of participants you're after, and gives the vendor more detail on what the participants will be testing.

Next up, the vendor will run this criteria through their database to find their best matches and provide you with an estimated CPP (cost per participant). From there, they'll hook you up with a quote based on your desired sample size, aka the N.

And get this - the cost covers all the heavy lifting! That means the panel provider will manage all the user test logistics, including screening and incentives. If you've got the budget for it, this can be an absolute lifesaver. So go ahead, sit back, and let the experts do their thing.

  • Logistics of running the test is fully managed by the third party.
  • Can gain access to niche or complex audiences.
  • Increases user testing turnaround time.
  • Can be very expensive.
  • You have less control over the screening and moderation of the participants.

    How Many Participants

    A common approach to determining the ideal number of participants, is to consider the purpose of the testing. For instance, if the goal is to identify usability issues in a product, testing with a smaller number of participants may be sufficient.

    However, if the goal is to measure the impact of a design change on user behaviour, testing with a larger sample size may be necessary.

    Here are four highly common user testing goals to consider:

    1. Do users understand my product enough to enjoy it?

    2. Are users delighted when using my product?

    3. Is my product good enough to retain users long-term?

    4. Will users tell others about my product?

    At Go Testify, we find that our customers see the best wins, save the most development time, and have the most confidence in their decision-making when using the following guidelines:

    No. of Participants

    Confidence Level

    Assessing confusion



    Iterating on small, focused changes



    Assessing experience & enjoyment



    (10% margin of error)

    Assessing whether people will retain long-term


    Comparing trends/multiple audience segments

    15+ per segment

    Simply put, the higher the sample size:

    1. the more UX issues you will find.

    2. the better you’ll be able to assess how people behave within your product.

    3. the more confident a decision you will make.

    It’s also worth noting that user testing is an iterative process, and the number of participants required may change as the testing progresses. For instance, if testing with 5 to 8 participants reveals significant usability issues, additional testing may be required to validate the findings and identify additional problems.

    In conclusion, the ideal number of participants for user testing depends on various factors, including the complexity of the product, the type of testing being conducted, and the research goals.

    Expert Tips for Effective Recruiting

    So you’ve put some serious graft into defining and finding your participants; it’s critical that your team get the most out of all your effort.

    With thousands of user tests recruited for and managed at GoTestify, here are some hard-earned tips that will help you along the way to ensure your team gets invaluable user feedback at pace.

    Over-recruit (backfill)

    When testing with real people, life will get in the way, and no matter how well you recruit and screen participants, at least one of them will need to take their dog to the vet because it found the leftover candy from Halloween.

    That’s why we always recommend recruiting 20-30% more participants to ensure the insight hits the studio fast. This is particularly true if you are conducting moderated testing, either in person or remote. Life happens, so be prepared for it.

    Always use a screener

    Seriously, trust us on this one. It will help safeguard your data and ensure that all the work you or the panel provider has done isn’t wasted by having to go back and vet participants, re-recruit and parse through your data.

    View our guide on setting up a screener

    Account for recruiting time in your planning

    Be sure to take into consideration recruitment challenges when planning your user research and how that will affect the amount of time it takes to find and invite participants into your study.

    We recommend starting by asking questions such as:

    • Are they a niche audience or an entirely new audience segment?

    • Do you already have access to the participants on file?

    • Are you trying to get live users from your game/product?

    • Did it take a lot of effort in the last user test?

    • Are you doing this in-house, or are you using a panel vendor?

    Take compensation into account

    You have to show respect for people’s time. Full stop. Typically this means the longer the user test, the more in-depth it is, and the more technical the task is. This should translate to higher compensation for the participants' time. If you’re not getting the number of user test completes you need in the expected time you’ve allotted, take a fresh look at what you’re asking and what you’re offering in return. However, be aware that not everyone is motivated by money, and in the games industry, in-game currency or swag can also be strong motivators.

    Stop holding your breath for unicorns

    Know your ideal target audience but don’t search for someone who hits every single qualifier. Be aware that you can bias your own results by focusing too much on “the one.” People won’t always be perfect matches, and that’s okay, as anyone can download, play or buy a game. Besides, screening out people who fit 85% of your criteria just creates a longer time to find participants.

    All we’re saying is that if you run a website for doctors, you don’t need to recruit a doctor to see if someone can find the password reset button on the homepage. You could, but it’s harder and more expensive, so why bother when a more general participant suffices?

    Is there technical knowledge that’s needed

    Sometimes technical knowledge or expertise is required. For example, If you’re testing a remote prototype, you may want to consider explaining what all they would need in order to access and interact with it. If there’s a piece of hardware or physical equipment, this doubly applies.

    Basically, if the technical experience is important to take part in, add those checks into the audience screener and be sure to include directions if they will be coming to your office.

    Don’t just focus on one recruitment method; combine when possible

    Don’t focus all of your efforts on social media recruiting if it’s not working for you as fast as it should. Try and get a few different channels going simultaneously and use all the tools available to you.

    Try to establish rapport to build up your own user-testing community

    I’m sure everyone can see the benefits of having a known group of users you can reach out to. You know they are the right people, they give the feedback you’re after, and it alleviates some of the stress of recruitment knowing you have that pool to draw from. We’ve seen this done a few different ways.

    Drop the jargon

    Watch the jargon in your communications, both with panel vendors and with your testers themselves. Keep things simple and speak in layman's terms. Trust me, everyone will thank you, and participants will provide better insight as they understand your objectives/goals.

    Consent and Privacy

    Explain the purpose of the test

    Start by introducing yourself in any message, and ensure to explain why you're conducting the user test or seeking testers. Be clear about what data you'll collect and how it will be used.

    Explain what participants will do

    Describe the tasks that participants will be asked to perform during the test. Be sure to provide clear instructions and answer any questions they may have.

    Obtain informed consent

    Now it's time to get that consent! Explain that participation is voluntary and that they can withdraw at any time. Make sure to emphasize that their personal information will be kept confidential and that they have the right to access their data at any time.

    Protect privacy and confidentiality

    To protect privacy, ensure that all personal information is stored securely and that participants' data is anonymized wherever possible. If you're recording the session, make sure to get participants' permission beforehand and explain how the recordings will be used.

    Vice versa, ensure that if you are concerned about any sensitive IP or information being leaked to the public, that you ask participants to sign and agree to a Non-Disclosure Agreement prior to providing detailed information about the test.

    Keep communication open

    Make sure participants know how to contact you if they have any concerns or questions, and provide a clear point of contact for them to reach out to. Be transparent and honest throughout the testing process, and keep communication lines open to build trust.

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    Remember, effective communication and careful planning are crucial for successful user testing. By following these steps, you can ensure that your testing process is organized, efficient, and, most importantly, fun!

    Plan ahead

    Before starting the testing process, it's essential to plan ahead. This includes scheduling participants, setting up the testing environment, and ensuring that all necessary equipment is in place. Don't forget to factor in breaks for both participants and observers!

    Communicate effectively

    Clear and effective communication is key during user testing. Make sure to explain the purpose of the test, provide clear instructions in tasks, and be ready to answer any questions participants may have.

    Observe and document

    During testing, it's crucial to observe participants' behaviour and document their actions and feedback. This includes taking notes on their thought process, noting any issues that arise, and recording feedback.

    Analyse results

    After testing is complete, it's time to analyze the results. This includes reviewing the notes and feedback collected during testing, identifying patterns, and determining areas for improvement.

    Follow up

    Once testing is complete, follow up with participants to thank them for their time and feedback. This is also an excellent opportunity to provide updates on any changes or improvements made based on their feedback.


    There’s no denying that recruiting can be tough. The good news is that you’re not alone in this feeling, and where there’s a business pain point, there’s a company trying to alleviate it. Even better news is that you have many recruiting methods at your disposal, both in-house and externally, that you can implement to make this task easier.

    Interested in talking to the Go Testify team


    Head of Customer Support