Panel companies are a great resource for driving targeted respondents to your online survey. A panel company is an organization that matches online respondents to the target audience of your survey, for a fee per complete response. Panel companies can help answer the question, “Who is going to take my survey?”
Quality Survey Respondents?
One thing to know about panel companies is that their entire business is their panel. This means a panel company takes great care to manage and care for the panelists that answer their surveys. You are paying for these respondents and you should feel confident that you are getting quality survey respondents.
If the entire panel becomes fatigued from taking too many surveys or if they don’t have enough quality panelists in order to serve their customer base, the panel company would be out of business. The same concern that you have over response rate is amplified for panel companies.
Where Do Panelists Come From?
Panelists could come from a variety of sources. Most often a panelist is going to come from a community website where the individual has subscribed and answered profile questions in order to answer surveys for incentives such as cash or prizes.
The panelists are fully vetted and managed over time.
When you order a panel, it is possible that one panel company might not have enough respondents to fill your order. In those cases, it is possible for that panel company to then place a suborder with another panel company in order to supply you with your complete list of panelists.
PLEASE NOTE: Not All Panel Companies Are Equal!
You will need to identify the best panel company based on your survey’s target audience. Panel companies tend to specialize in specific geographic areas or industries. Contact a project manager at the panel company you are interested in to see if they can meet your needs.
External and Integrated Panel Companies
You can work with a panel company that is external from your online survey tool, or one that is integrated with your online survey tool.
When working with an external panel company you’ll provide them with a link to your survey. They’re going to append several URL variables to that link to anonymously identify the panelist. The panel company will also provide you a link to use to redirect completed respondents back to the panel company’s website. This will allow the panelist to be rewarded for participating in your survey. Most panel companies also have a disqualification link. You’ll use this link to redirect individuals who are not qualified or do not fit your population.
Panel Tips for Working With a Panel Company
Regardless of which panel company you select, here a couple of tips that will help you in working with panel companies:
- Use disqualification questions. This is very important anytime you are buying panel. Make sure that your survey contains disqualification questions; that are questions that remove respondents from your survey that are not in your target audience. Even though it is the panel companies business to get you the right respondents, people and their circumstances change over time. Make sure that you do that extra check.
- Don’t ask for personal information. Panel companies’ entire business relies on their panelists. That means that you will not be allowed to ask for e-mail address, mailing address name or any other contact information that might identify their panelists. All surveys using panel companies for respondents must be anonymous.
- If you’re going to be doing follow-up surveys to the same group of individuals — let the panel company know ahead of time. Many panel companies have the capability to allow you to re-contact respondents, but they will need to let the panelists know that this will be an ongoing study. The panel company may need to pass specialized information into your survey in order to anonymously identify those participants who complete it.
Go ahead, and go out there and get those respondents. Use these tips to drive your project to success.