One of the key components of an effective survey tool is assuring you have quality sample to survey. When you’re surveying your customers — that’s a no brainer – but what if you want to do a branding survey or a blind study with a specific, targeted audience?
To get some answers, I talked to Rudly Raphael who runs qSample, the data collection division of Survey Analytics and QuestionPro.
qSample was created as a result of numerous requests from customers for quality sample pools. Just as QuestionPro creates tools that are intuitive and easy for its customers, qSample follows suit by automating and simplifying the sample process. One way qSample achieves this is through a thorough determination of whether a panel or a sample is right for each survey.
A survey panel is a pre-recruited community of individuals who share certain characteristics in common. Examples include a panel of consumers or its decision makers or gamers. A sample is a subset of that population. For example, a client may wish to conduct a survey with 500 casual gamers from qSample’s gamer panel. Think of the panel as the overall, and the sample a smaller part of the whole.
People not familiar with the survey process often use panel and sample interchangeably. There is no “hard and fast” rule about when to use a sample as opposed to a panel. It depends more on the survey creator and from where do they want their sample to come. For example, does the surveyor want the names to come from a panel, list provider, industry publication, or random sample.
A well-recruited and maintained panel can provide better data quality than any methodology available. Respondents can complete surveys at their convenience and the data can be collected in less than 24 hours. Online panels also offer more data quality control. More than 80% of the U.S. population is currently online. This figure grows globally. As such, this will soon become the default data collection methodology of choice.
As one begins to construct a survey, it is crucial to ask the company providing the data certain questions to assure the sample quality. Sample questions include
- How is the panel recruited?
- What systems do they have in place to counter panel attrition?
- How do they incentivize their members?
- What is the make up of the panel?
Knowing the difference between a panel and a sample – and what’s best for the survey at hand – is a critical component for conducting effective online surveys. Companies like qSample exist to help users assure sample quality. Don’t make the mistake of constructing a survey when the respondents may not be the right people to give the answers.