6 Tips for Stellar Panel Management

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6 Tips for Stellar Research Panel Management

No longer simply the domain of public access panels, panel management is increasing being taken on as a task within research departments, marketing departments, and research organizations. The market research panel has become the hub of many activities. Its reach extends beyond Voice of the Customer and survey-related initiatives. It includes communities, links to social media, and also represents a path to BIG DATA. By tying in with apps – in-store and marketing-related apps as well as third-party apps – the panel is taking on a larger role in the enterprise.

Many enterprise panels are successful while others fail or never even get off the ground. For that reason, here are six tips and tricks for stellar panel management. In no particular order of importance, they are …

1.Adequate and dedicated resources. Too often – and especially with customer-centric enterprise panels – panel management is a side occupation. An online panel represents a significant investment as well as a promise made to its members. It should be treated in a manner representative of the brand, and its management practices should be consistent and maintained properly at all times. Outsourcing panel management is a preferable alternative to letting a panel’s usage lapse, or ignoring other panel management tasks.

2. Ongoing and targeted utilization. Today’s panelists have many opportunities to participate in a wide variety of research projects. Those who are interested in participating are likely to be selecting from a variety of panels, focus groups, communities, and other invitations. Unless participants receive a sufficient number of invitations to participate, they are likely to leave for greener pastures.

3. Proper use of incentives. In the same light, panelists will continuously be comparing the incentives from other projects against those of your projects. Incentives may not be needed for all types of projects, especially when being asked for very brief responses. However, for lengthier exercises, a small compensation is standard practice. Also, real-time redemptions, with multiple options available, are the norm.

4. Tracking of recruitment sources. Most panels use multiple recruitment sources (and should, to eliminate the inherent response bias from utilizing only one channel for recruitment). Recruitment sources should be studied to understand which are performing best, how they bias the panel, and which deliver the best financial results.

5. Attention to quality. Quality shows in all research panels. Quality includes the panel website design, its features and functions, and how up-to-date it is. Quality includes the attention paid to the underlying projects to which panelists are invited. It includes invitation design and appropriate use with third parties. It also includes the quality of the research itself—to ensure that panelists are properly authenticated and engaged in the research process. Appropriate quality measures not only include response and completion rates, but also frequency of refresh, churn rates, and many other measures. Quality measures should be continuously benchmarked.

6. Testing, testing, testing. Some aspect of the panel should continuously be in test. Recruitment practices, invitation designs, incentive plans, and virtually all aspects of the panel should be rigorously tested to maintain the panel at its highest level.

Successful panel management is not rocket science – but it does require the same amount of thoughtful study and is an ongoing research project unto itself.

– Erica Dent Google+

Queen’s Commerce Class of 2008 group photo 14” by eddiehosa is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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