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3 Tips to Build a Successful Online Custom Panel

Building an online panel with the right composition of panelists is a lot like cooking vegetable soup. Depending on your personal taste and preferences (as well as budget), you bring together a variety of ingredients and stir.

But what ingredients you add and in what proportions makes all the difference in the end result. So what’s the perfect recipe to yield the happy panelists and the data your business needs?

1. Define what you want from the panel

Assuming that you have already figured out your specific research needs (explored in our eReport on building and using a custom online panel), you will need to define some expectations for your online panel.

This really depends on what you are using the panel for. Consider:

  • Is it to field monthly customer satisfaction studies?
  • Do you need a community to conduct product concept testing on short notice?
  • Is the overall goal to create a benchmark study that will be used as a reference for the next 5 years?

It might even be a combination of these options, and a panel can accommodate that. But you have to build those capabilities into the panel from the beginning in order to get the best results.

2. Be proactive and consider your quotas

In other words, measure your ingredients carefully. As mentioned in this video on mistake 3 from our eReport series, keeping your panel and your research results balanced should be a big priority. Different research projects will require varying levels of participation from your panelist, and making sure they have the relevant experience and interest in doing so is essential.

As well, particular demographics are known to respond at different rates, so to get the results you want you need to have the correct people in your panel. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Which key demographics do I want to hear from?
  • What kind of response rates do those segments have?
  • What kind of surveys and online activities do these market segments enjoy?
  • Does my panel have room to grow if I need bigger pools of respondents?

An online panel’s strong point is its productivity over the long-term. Keeping the right mix of people in the panel keeps your research fresh and relevant. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it is a good idea to consult a sample specialist.

3. Have a contingency plan

Say you step away from the kitchen for a moment, and when you get back dinner is burnt. We’ve all been there, but it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan in place so you’re not left hungry.

An online panel is versatile and far-reaching, but even today some demographics don’t have a strong online presence. Using the optimum mixture of research modalities can make a big difference in terms of reaching these populations, and keep your quotas balanced. Adding a telephone survey or mailed study to your panel results can give you better value while keeping data quality at a premium.

If you’d like to get more tips on how to build, manage, and benefit from a custom panel, see our eReport: The Top 10 Mistakes Commonly Made When Building and Using a Custom Online Panel.

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