Online Panels

Online Market Research Panels are pre-selected groups of people that are both interested in and willing to participate in marketing research groups, focus groups, surveys or usability test groups. The people chosen to participate in these panels may be consumers, sales leads, current customers, prospective customers or members of a specifically targeted group and/or people with similar characteristics that a business has interest in researching.

Using an online research panel gives businesses an efficient method of gathering data and feedback from a regular group of participants. It gives companies the ability to make consumer research easier, more productive and it is more affordable than traditional research.

Although some panelist are recruited directly through the inquiring company’s own website or customer list, the participants of other research panels are generally recruited through e-mail, phone and sometimes in person. They must present proof of their identification, agree to participate and sign a privacy clause.

A participant is generally unaware of what or why they will be sitting on a market research panel but a panelist is supplied with clear instructions on what to expect during participation and any privacy is clearly of the utmost importance.

The goal of the online panel is usually to target people with a specific demographics and other specific items including but not limited to:

  • Agei
  • Race
  • Children
  • Job
  • Size of Employer

This allows a business to target people within a certain niche. In other words, they may be searching for teachers, in middle-sized schools, urban areas, decision-making authority for computer software.

People participating in the online market research panels qualify for incentives for their participation in the research. Incentives can come in a variety of forms including:

  • Cash
  • Gifts
  • Sample Products
  • Checks
  • Gift Cards
  • Discounts

Panels that are for a charity or non-profit organization may come in the form of:

-T-shirts -Promotional Items -Coffee Mugs -Mouse Pads

Online market research panels is a more popular option instead of live phone interviews with random and un-categorized samples of data that may or may not present privacy issues. In addition, the cost of these types of research campaigns is significantly higher than online research panels. However, using customer research panels requires a management team, screening process, security issues and replacing any dropouts in the study.

Panel providers form and manage online market research panels. The panel provider’s website is for panelist to sign-up and gives their profile information. Both the panel provider and the panelist can view their participation information on the site but the panel provider can see all panelists’ information on a dashboard. This allows the panel provider to see reports on responses and create new surveys for its panelist.

By hiring a panel provider, the company will have instant access to the provider’s membership panelist, giving them access to panels that are already set up and ready to go. This alleviates the hassle of having to start from scratch to set up a panel for information needed quickly.

Filling out surveys and questionnaires online, ensures questions and answers can be evaluated and answered the same for all panelist. This eliminates rushed answers, privacy concerns, prejudice or a discrepancy in the way the questions can be given to panelist.

Using online marketing research also includes the opportunity to add a picture, video or sound to the research project that would otherwise be impossible if conducted over the phone. Using visual stimulations allows the results of the panel to be more accurate, because the panelist has a clear visualization of how to respond, comment on or evaluate.

An online research panelist member is carefully monitored for changes to their profile. If they are regularly non-responsive to request for participation, then the company removes them from the database. Generally, a panelist will be limited on the amount of panels they participate in during the year, with the average being between three to six panels a year.

Panel providers constantly recruit new members for the online panels to replace the members that have dropped out and to meet new panel needs. Although the company accepts new members regularly, it does not guarantee selection as a panelist and with the growing popularity of online research panels, many people are looking for the opportunity to participate to earn extra income.

Online research panels give businesses the opportunity to inquire about any aspect of their business and get quality feedback in a short amount of time and allowing them to stay within budget. To locate panel providers, try using The Greenbook, the guide for buyers of marketing research service.