6 Tips for
Panel Quality and Panel Design
in Research

6 Tips for Panel Quality and Panel Design in Research

One of the most essential requirements of research is panel quality and design. Market research trends point us towards a rapid change in how procedures happen. Conducting research is now easier, but your data can only be as good as the panel you use.

It is essential to get the best panel quality and design possible. 

What is Panel Quality and Panel Design?

Before giving you tips on panel surveys, we need to define our terms first and why they’re essential for your business. Focusing on quality and design is one of the most crucial steps in any research.

Panel design is a way of building a research sample group, known as a panel, to measure research variables. Good panel design considers the possibility of multiple variables of interest for the project and takes the same participants within the same stages.

For example, good panel design entails having the same sample of participants on the same number of testing waves until a change in variable occurs. This allows for an excellent longitudinal change or stability, depending on your research markers.

Panel quality works hand-in-hand with panel design. Panel quality notes the qualifications of your participants to represent the target market and demographic you want to cater to. Good panel quality should provide a good, qualified opinion of your potential customers.

Here are 6 tips to maximize panel design and quality in your research and the best ways to get your research going with the best foot forward.

Pre-Qualify Your Panel

It’s essential to start building the quality of your panel through proper pre-qualification. This means appropriately managing participants and providing active communication with them.

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Panels can be database-driven or actively managed, depending on the needs of the small business. Database-driven panels are mostly a mailing list that a company can send a blast and pull data through online surveys. The quality of panel members who opt-in can be questionable, as you can’t prove their identities regardless.

Actively-managed panels produce better data quality and response rates. As panel members feel more engaged, their participation rates will rise. Proper engagement means providing your panel with publicly accessible information about the research and its importance to the investigation.

Improve Your Panel Recruitment Process

Pre-qualification also entails improving your recruitment process. Most experts use two recruitment approaches to recruit panel members: open and closed recruitment.

Open recruitment allows anyone with Internet access to enroll in the research program. On the other hand, closed recruitment only allows pre-validated individuals to join. Pre-qualification entails ensuring the participants fit the parameters needed by the business.

It is probably the most critical quality component to identify and secure panel participants that match your criteria.  Since many platforms are competing for respondents, finding respondents who are genuine, qualified, and willing to provide their opinions is challenging. Regardless, it’s worth the extra effort.

It is possible to recruit members for your panel research using a variety of channels. Internet marketing, specifically via email and social media, has proven to be successful. To understand your audience better, you can have your new members fill out a short survey after they join. 

Reward Panel Participation

Each research project should also consider the type of compensation. You can use rewards and propositions as incentives to persuade people to answer a questionnaire or join a specific panel. As a result, rewards can impact the quality of the sample, particularly in longitudinal research. 

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Whether a panel is online or in person, providers use several types of incentives. You can fulfill incentives through guaranteed cash, reward incentives, or sweepstakes prize drawings. 

As the simplest form of compensation, cash incentives are awarded upon survey completion. It has been demonstrated that guaranteed cash/reward incentives will lead to higher response rates. However, the quality of the responses may suffer.

Participants are entered into a prize drawing as a reward for completing a survey. A random drawing is held periodically, with varying numbers of contestants. The panel will take a long time to populate if you are using sweepstakes to get qualified engagements.

Prepare A Contingency Plan

What could go wrong will go wrong in any panel. You may lose a few members of your panel, or they have a different schedule available. Whatever happens, it’s critical to have a contingency plan that prepares for worst case scenarios. 

Even today, many demographics lack a strong online presence, despite the versatility and reach of an online panel. Choosing the most appropriate mix of research modalities will help you reach these populations while balancing your quotas. You can improve the quality of your panel results by adding a telephone survey or mailed study.

It’s also best to keep reserve participants if there’s a good possibility that some panel members may get an emergency.

Use A Panel Management System

It is essential to set up a quality management system for your panel. You can make it yourself or use a third-party service, which works like a directory. It can detect and eliminate duplicate members and even detect fraudulent respondents at registration time. You can also use it to monitor and isolate potentially bad data.

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A comprehensive and up-to-date database will increase the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. Whether you create your own online panel or use a third party, knowing how to quickly cull your list and find where aberrant data lies can be valuable. 

Diversify Your Research Panel

Having the same group of panelists throughout your research projects can lead to bias and error. So, it’s important to look for different sub-panels of participants who match the new requirements for each project. 

Members of a panel should be invited to take a survey no more than a few times in a given timeframe. This removes any chance to skew your information towards a bias associated with the person or product.

However, diversifying your approach doesn’t mean you have to avoid using social media. Social media can be a great way to connect with your target audience. You can expand your network through promotional strategies, such as contests and incentive programs. You can also advertise your company’s presence on social media. 

The Bottom Line

There are many advantages to building towards panel quality and design in research. By diversifying your participants, pre-qualifying them, and following a consistent process, you can get better data down the line. Before you launch your research, work towards improving quality. Always think about how your methods will pan out, and do your best to mitigate any data skews ahead of time.

About the author
Bash Sarmiento is a writer and an educator from Manila. He writes laconic pieces in the education, marketing, lifestyle and health realms. His academic background and extensive experience in teaching, textbook evaluation, business management and traveling are translated in his works.

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