Online Market Research Panel – Types, benefits, importance, and best practices

What is an online market research panel?

Definition: An online market research panel is an online group of recruited survey research respondents who willingly participate in various online research studies. The online panel participants answer surveys online and contribute to market research data collection. Market research panel members are also known as audience or samples. These panelists share an extensive amount of information about themselves, which is useful for proper sample selection. Online panel research is a popular way of getting a group-based overview of what customers or employees think of your company, its services, and products. 

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Types of online market research panels

Market research panels are of two types: B2B panels and B2C panels:

  • Online business-to-business (B2B) panel: B2B panelists are business owners, business professionals, and business decision-makers who specialize in responding to business-related surveys concerning the size, industry type, segmentation, etc. of the market.
  • Online business-to-customer (B2C) panel: B2C research comprises customers or end-users of a product or service. Businesses (brands, companies, organizations) seek views from their customers (existing or potential), who might purchase a service or product for their personal use.

Why must you use an online market research panel?

Online panels for market research are more suitable as compared to traditional phone interviews. Traditional telephonic researchers target random and un-categorized respondents that may or may not present privacy issues. Having an online panel makes it easier to research the world. The panel members are already set and ready to go. It saves the companies from the hassles of starting from scratch as the panel information is readily available online. In addition to the high cost of such processes, there is no guarantee that the person coming on the phone will respond to questions. Even if he/she agrees to answer the survey questions, it may be unclear whether the respondent will pass the screener questions to qualify for the survey. This way, it’s a waste of both time and resources.

Top five benefits of a quality online panel for market research

The size of the audience for a study differs quite often, but that does not necessarily affect the credibility of the research results, provided you have recruited the right audience for your panel research. You are likely to get responses that will lead you onwards. Additionally, if you’re able to convince them to partake multiple times, you will also obtain a dedicated group of people to compare and adjust their responses over time.

  1. Saves time: Research panels provide easy access to willing research participants. By nature, research panels build convenience samples. A research project using audience samples takes much less time to complete than using alternative sample recruitment methods. For example, a company may believe in posting an online survey on social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. It may generate a ton of survey completes, but there is no guarantee that these individuals want to participate. By building a panel, researchers can ensure individuals’ participation.
  2. Saves costs: Researchers can save costs and time by using online panels. It is as simple as that! Approaching quality panelists can get responses from consumers faster and less expensively.
  3. Research panels can mimic specific demographics: Businesses can gain consumer feedback comparable to the national population. Researchers use panels in market research to target a particular group of audience. As a result, they can help business decision-makers whether they are looking for feedback from general or niche consumers.
  4. Response quality and response rate: Response rates tend to be high as respondents opt to participate in the research. High response quality is also maintained as the panel members are pre-profiled and chosen before deploying the survey.
  5. Studying sensitive issues: Not every respondent will be comfortable sharing views on sensitive, personal topics. Consumer panels can report on more sensitive matters, including X-rated products, alcohol, cigarettes and, drug usage, to name but a few. These members are more open to responding to personal questions.

Why are online panels for market research important?

Building a quality market research panel is essential as your data depends on it. With a research panel, you can create rich profiles of your members, which will guarantee quality responses. For example, if you are looking to launch a new motorbike, you would want to target panelists interested in motorcycles and automotive technology to yield more informed responses. Additionally, a well-managed audience allows for a faster response rate, as the participants have shown interest in participating in surveys by joining the panel.

Online panels are also useful when you need to collect quick and inexpensive insights. For example, third-party online groups are helpful if you face a low incidence rate in your survey. Typically, adopting an online panel for marketing research guarantees a quick and budget-friendly fieldwork data collection activity.

Best practices for online market research panel recruitment

Here are a few steps that you need to follow for market research panel recruitment carefully:

  • Establish a goal: A survey or a panel for market research must have an objective. For example, a survey may be sent to the customer audience to assess happiness or disappointment with their purchase. Researchers also use surveys to determine interest in a new product or service the company is thinking of launching. Be clear who you want to recruit to your panel.
  • Establish your recruitment channel(s): There are many methods to recruit respondent panels for market research. You may not have an existing list of contacts to call on, so reaching out to your customers via social media channels and POS communication could be more powerful. Determine which methods are best for your organization.
  • Keep it short and straightforward: Once the contacts commit to joining your panel, you’ll also need to collect some essential information. Create a short survey to receive the first name, last name, and email address of each respondent. If you initially ask too many questions during the recruitment phase, your panel members may more likely leave the survey midway or, worse, opt-out of your panel.
  • Send a profile survey after members join the panel: This profile survey collects more information about the panel member to target and sample your audience for better research.
  • Send a welcome email: After respondents have joined your market research panel, and taken the profiling survey, make sure to send a welcome email. This email must remind the audience of the reason they joined the panel. Also, inform them about incentives or rewards policies, if any.

Overcoming the challenges of online market research panels

Online research may pose some challenges, but you can mitigate or overcome the problems with these tips:

  • Create a FAQ page for your panelists. Answer queries promptly and honestly.
  • Have members refer new people to join the panel. Don’t let it stagnate.
  • Communicate through postings, emails, and tweets – Let them know you’re alive.
  • Be honest about payment, current projects, or how often they can expect you to contact them.
  • Take off email addresses that consistently fail to deliver. Ensure to maintain a clean audience list.
  • Continuously monitor panels for undesirable behavior such as speeding, survey gaming, data falsification, and straight-lining.
  • Panels must be revived and enhanced over time as natural attrition takes place.

Without natural processes to address issues, the custom panel audience will never reach its full potential.

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Online market research panels with QuestionPro Audience:

QuestionPro Audience is the most versatile, trustworthy online research panel with over 22 million panelists, across 32 countries and 300+ profile data points. Using this, you can get in touch with filtered respondents to receive insights from them and improve your products/services. Get qualified, reliable, and mobile-ready survey respondents and survey research panel using QuestionPro Audience. Also, get full turnkey data collection including – sample, survey programming, tabs, dashboard reporting, and custom scripting! Ask us anything about panel research on