Fun with Filling Audience Panels

February 8, 2021

Filling audience panel quotas isn’t always easy. Sometimes the audience a customer wants is pretty hard to find, other times they want people who don’t take surveys. In those cases, the Alchemer Panel Services team helps researchers understand the tradeoffs in finding their ideal audience. Here are some helpful tips to make it easier to complete your research and set expectations with your clients. 

Fortune 500 C-Suite: Yes, we’d all like to know what these people are thinking, but how many executives are willing to take a survey? The average CEO salary for a Fortune 500 company is $11.5 million per year, which means they make, on average, $5,529 an hour. They’re also responsible for more than 60,600 workers each. Yes, they make the big budget decisions, but finding the influencers below the C-suite is going to give you better insights into the decision-making process. 

For the record, trying to get 1000 respondents from Fortune 500 CIOs is technically impossible (it’s a math thing, 500 divided by 1000 is still 1/2, even with new math). 

Different Industries: You might want decision makers in a specific part of the company – HR, IT, Sales, Engineering – but you want them from different industries. The secret here is to ask the right question about where they work. Many people whose careers span different industries tend to believe they’re in the HR, IT, or Sales industry, and less so the airline, retail, or manufacturing industry. Many of your colleagues probably believe that they’re in the market research industry, even though they might work for a healthcare company. 

How you ask your question becomes very important here. What answers you accept is just as important. 

Non-Tech Audiences: It’s much easier and faster to find panelists who use a computer or smartphone all day at work. Targeting people who don’t takes more time. If you want to target people who don’t have a smartphone, you have to target respondents who only complete surveys on computers. If they’re answering on a smartphone, they already have one. 

By the way, you will not find gamers or influencers who don’t have smartphones. They just don’t exist. They might have had their phones taken away for misbehaving, but they still own one. 

Smartphones for Success: The percentage of people taking surveys on their mobile device is growing – so much so that about 70% of people are taking surveys on their mobile device now. If you want to reach more people, don’t restrict your survey to laptops or desktops. Especially if you want younger demographics (have you ever seen a student not on their phone?). 

Race is a Sensitive Subject: And it will continue to be for some time. However, it’s important to  remember that diversity is regional as well. You will find more Hispanic communities in the Southwestern U.S. than in the northern central states. Census-balancing nationwide will give you a racial profile that is 12.5% black, 18.7% Hispanic, 5.8% Asian, 2.3% multiple races, and 60.1% white, non-Hispanic. Asian populations increase dramatically in the Pacific Northwest, while black and Hispanic populations decline. You need to be aware of the diversity in the region you want to survey.  

Your Customers Aren’t Always Right: This is particularly true if you’re a niche player. Often companies come to us to sample a 50/50 split of current customers and people who haven’t but are in the market. This kind of research allows them to capture the most representative trends and developments in their market. Continually researching your customers exclusively biases your data and could bias your decision-making. Keep it fresh by reaching out to new people. It’s kind of like changing your socks. 

Very Specific Market with Very Broad Criteria: If you want to survey people who have bought sensible pumps and poodle skirts in the past six months are probably not going to be able to get responses from many middle-aged men in farming communities. At least not that many who will admit to it.  

Similarly, if you want people buy trucks – especially 18-wheelers – you’re probably not going to find a census-balanced respondent pool that includes yoga moms. You might have to open up your description of a truck to include SUVs or accept the people who do respond. Many companies find that their target market (truck drivers in this case, rockabilly fans in the prior instance) provide the best data.  

Also remember that different social standards travel with different generations. You might find that it’s easy to fill a panel with pot-smoking 50 and 60 year-olds, but more difficult when it comes to the 80+ age range.  

What You Can Do 

  1. Be flexible in juggling who you want to answer your survey and how long it might take to get them. We can find the people you want (in most cases); it just might cost more and take more time. Don’t expect to get 1200 responses from hard-to-find people in a couple of hours. It might take time to find them and get them to take the survey. 
  1. Be realistic about how specific you get with your audience. Trying to find a book club that buys dinnerware and lives on Whiteheart Lane is going to take some time, if it’s even possible. It might be what your client or executive wants, but they will be easier to find by going door-to-door.  
  1. Do a little research before proposing an audience. Out-of-work actors are pretty easy to find. Social-media CEOs are much fewer and harder to reach. Besides, they’re all dealing with who to ban and free-speech issues right now. A quick web search will show you that 10% of the global population is left-handed, but 13.1% of Americans. You’ll find that 6.1% of American children are being treated for ADHD while 4.4% of American adults struggle with it. Knowing a little about your market could help you form your survey and select the right audience. 
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