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How to Keep an Online Consumer Panel Fresh, Active, and Happy

So you’ve built your custom online panel. Now, how can you make sure the resource is being used effectively? Your consumer panel functions as an extension of your brand and needs to be cared for, like any other valued resource.

The most important thing to remember about your custom panel is that it is comprised of people.  They are your customers first and foremost, so it is extremely important for it to be carefully and actively maintained, without being overused. 

In addition to managing the frequency of survey invitations, there are a number of other key areas that require focus and attention.

Panelist support

Provide multiple methods for panelists to reach someone if there is a problem, if they have a question, or otherwise need to get in touch:

  • Email support: It’s important for panelists to believe that their information is not simply being delivered “into the void.”  They need a way to quickly reach the panel relations manager who can assuage their concerns about data security, answer their questions about the panel or a particular survey, or help them troubleshoot a problem they are having. While this is probably the most important method of contact to offer, it should not be the only one.
  • Telephone: For people who are dealing with us in a digital framework and who are now accustomed to conducting many of their customer service communications via email or an automated phone attendant, being able to reach a real person on the phone can make a big difference.
  • Panelist gateway: Each panelist should have access to a personalized website (called a gateway) where they can log on and update their personal information, check for new surveys to complete, and participate in other activities such as discussion forums,  This provides panelists not just a way to communicate, but another way to engage with the panel (and the client’s brand).

Responding quickly to opt-out requests and other issues is critical to maintaining panelist satisfaction with their panel experience. 

Panel maintenance and hygiene

Of course, interaction with the panelist is only part of the equation.  To truly keep your panel in top form, you must remember that in addition to being comprised of people, your panel is also comprised of information. 

  • Email addresses that consistently fail to be delivered must be removed from the panel to keep response rates at their best and avoid issues at the ISP level that can arise when a too-large percentage of your email invitations are undeliverable. 
  • Panels must be constantly monitored for undesirable behavior such as survey gaming, speeding, straight-lining, and data falsification. 
  • Panels must be refreshed and supplemented over time as natural attrition takes place. 

Without regular processes put into place to address these issues, the custom panel will never reach its full potential. 

A custom panel is a valuable resource, but just like that gym membership you might purchase this January, if you don’t use it and use it correctly, you are unlikely to see the best return on your investment.

Heather Primm
Heather Primm
Heather Primm

Heather Primm, Director of Operations, came to Data Decisions Group in 1996 in a part-time capacity as an interviewer in the call center at night while working in property management during the day. Now, over twenty years later, Heather has spent time in almost every functional area of the company, working in quality control, project coordination, project management, product management, and now management of the operations team that delivers high-quality data and research solutions to our clients.

In her role at Data Decisions Group, Heather wears a number of different hats: consulting at the project level, keeping the team abreast of legislative changes that impact our industry, product development, process improvement, and relationship management. What she loves best about the work she does is helping deliver high-quality, actionable results to our clients that allow them to improve their business performance…and their bottom line.

Heather received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992.