Customer research panels are pre-recruited groups in an audience of interest willing to participate in marketing research events such as focus groups, surveys, or usability tests. Panel members might be current customers, sales leads, prospective customers, or members of an identified target segment your company wishes to target.
Members of customer research panels may be given incentives in the form of cash or gifts for their participation in the research panel. With rise of privacy concerns among the general public, the customer research panel approach is often viewed as a sound alternative to the use of fresh, random sample probability samples through phone interviews which are sound theory yet impossible to execute without extreme costs. For customer research panels to offer advantages, however, they require excellent management, security, screening, and member replacement. We may contact panel respondents (members) using the internet, phone, mail or home visits depending on the requirements of the study.
A standing customer research panel is one maintained by a panel supplier, some maintaining national and worldwide memberships of a million or more members. These standing panels are quickly tapped as the membership is already in place.
A custom panel is proprietary for our client, such as customer or hot prospect panels. In consumer markets, a custom customer research panel may be built using a standing panel as the starting recruitment base.
Panels are recruited by a combination of online and offline methods (telephone, mail, banner advertising, print advertising, publicity). The recruiting is designed to make the panel as representative of its target population as possible. Sponsorship may be revealed or anonymous.
Internet questionnaires directed to panel members offer advantages in most cases. They have mostly replaced mail and phone contact methods, although these contact methods are sometimes required. Web contact offers the advantages of visual materials and time to ponder questions before answering, and allow members to respond when it is convenient for them.
We typically compensate customer research panel members for completing surveys: the longer the survey, the greater the cash incentive. We may arrange for other benefits, services, and awards to members. We carefully protect members' privacy, confidentiality, and anonymity.
The usage of customer research panel members is monitored and limited. A typical panelist participates in only three or four studies per year. An online help desk provides "live" assistance to respondents during surveys. Out-of-date email addresses are cleaned from each panel weekly. All nonresponders are systematically removed from the panels. New panelists are constantly added to keep each panel "fresh." Recruiting goals are adjusted monthly to keep the customer research panels balanced and representative.