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A Brief Overview of Panel Management | IntelliSurvey


As the demand for accurate and reliable survey data grows, effective panel management has become a critical component of the research process. This overview will cover what you need to know about managing survey panels, from designing effective surveys to optimizing panel recruitment.

What is a Survey Panel?

Survey panels allow market researchers to leverage large groups of consumers, B2B, or healthcare respondents to conduct various studies. A pre-selected group of individuals who agree to participate in questionnaires regularly are known as panels (or samples). Survey panels feature respondents from multiple backgrounds and demographics and can range from a large subset of a general population to a smaller set of respondents from a specific department within an industry.  

Different customer segments have unique needs, preferences, and behaviors. Therefore, researchers must carefully select panelists to create a representative sample of the study’s target population. Panel selection involves balancing demographics such as age or gender, other attributes, and additional criteria such as availability and reliability. Selecting panelists that accurately represent the survey’s target population enables researchers to obtain more reliable data.

Reliable survey panels are helpful for organizations that conduct market research and other types of surveys regularly. Having a group of individuals who volunteer to take surveys helps streamline the research process and ensures the data collected is consistent over time.

What is Panel Management?

Panel management is the process of recruiting, retaining, incentivizing, and managing the members of research panels. For many studies, researchers apply their respondent criteria to an existing panel to narrow the number of respondents and ensure they're surveying the correct profiles. The requirements will vary depending on the type of project, such as competitor analysis, product tests, advertising tests, and healthcare market research.

Panels can be sourced in-house, by third-party sample companies, or by sample-sourcing service providers such as IntelliSurvey, where we use our blended sample approach in 65% of our projects. When sourcing a survey panel, it is crucial to ensure that effective screening measures are in place to maintain the integrity of the data.

Each sample source has both benefits and drawbacks. In-house panels can be more cost-effective but can also present risks, such as introducing bad actors and low-quality data. Panel companies can help save time on projects by providing respondents but may need more time to deliver a big enough sample size to meet the requirements of a project. Organizations that offer sample sourcing as a service can obtain panels from multiple providers, decreasing the time required to meet quotas and minimizing the risk of fraud.

What are the Benefits of Panel Management?

Proper panel management provides a multitude of benefits. These include but are not limited to increased project speed, larger response rates, and cleaner data.

Increased Project Speed

One of the primary benefits of multi-supplier sample sourcing is increased project speed. The sample sourcing aspect of panel management can take significant time, especially if quotas are adjusted or respondent criteria change during survey fielding. When sourcing samples from multiple suppliers, research resources are freed up to work on other aspects of the project.

Panel management using a diverse set of sample providers can also increase project speed by recruiting panels based on expediency and quality of the sample delivered, allowing for better project management and faster turnaround times. For instance, projects managed by IntelliSurvey are typically 2–3 times faster than those without panel-agnostic sourcing services.

Larger Response Rates

Panel management that includes multiple sample sources offers several advantages for businesses seeking customer feedback. One of the key benefits is the potential for higher response rates. Sourcing samples that target specific areas of interest or product lines can increase the panel size of the segment most relevant to your survey, resulting in higher response rates and more accurate data.

In addition to higher response rates, panel management can provide valuable insights into customer feedback. By comparing and contrasting the feedback of different customer segments, organizations can identify areas of opportunity and improvement, which can inform targeted marketing strategies and product offerings.

Partnering with a field management or panel sourcing partner can further streamline the process and improve response rates by simultaneously sampling multiple panels for new suppliers, continuous performance assessments, and simplifying administrative tasks through APIs, saving time and resources while ensuring high-quality data.

Clean and Accurate Data

Panel management helps ensure that the data from respondents is clean and accurate. With panel management, participants are qualified based on specific criteria for every survey. Using the most qualified participants helps reduce the likelihood of invalid or unreliable responses and ensures relevant data.

A strong panel management strategy or partner includes monitoring participants for inconsistencies or irregularities in their responses. This helps identify fraudulent or unreliable data. In addition, researchers should design questionnaires that follow best practices for fighting bad actors, such as including offender traps, red-herring questions, and attention checks. IntelliSurvey has also developed a proprietary algorithm, CheatSweep™, that detects and removes fraudulent responses.

Finding a sample provider with a solid reputation is essential when working with an organization that provides sample sourcing. For example, IntelliSurvey doesn’t just provide a sample from any panel provider on the market. We employ superior panel vetting processes, incorporating measures such as identity validation, geo-IP checks, and more. These measures help ensure that only qualified and trustworthy respondents participate in each study. By using panel management to obtain clean and accurate data, companies can make better-informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes.

How Does Panel Management Affect Survey Response Rates and Completes?

Panel management has a significant impact on survey response rates. Using targeted screener questions to create a high-quality panel is crucial for high response rates. By selecting participants based on detailed demographics, location, past behavior, and other criteria, researchers can identify respondents who are most likely to respond and are motivated to complete the survey. Effective panel management ensures you invite the right people to take a survey and eliminate non-qualified participants early in the process. 

Panel management also helps eliminate survey fatigue by using separate survey panels, each tailored to the specific needs and interests of the group. Incentives can increase participation, while well-designed questionnaires keep participants engaged and focused while completing surveys. Sending reminders and follow-ups that emphasize the value of their feedback can also increase response rates.

Data Aggregation vs. Panel Blending

Data aggregation is a technique used in research to combine data from multiple sources into a single dataset, such as when one source isn’t enough for the desired pool of potential respondents. Panel blending, on the other hand, merges data from contrasting panels for additional feedback in a survey.

Data Aggregation

Aggregation is appropriate when one data source is insufficient to provide the desired level of information. By combining data from various sources, researchers can obtain a more comprehensive and accurate view of what they are studying.

In surveys, data aggregation may involve collecting responses from multiple panels. Using numerous survey panels can increase the sample’s representativeness, as different panels may provide access to other subpopulations of interest. 

Panel Blending

Panel blending is a technique that improves the quality and representativeness of survey data by combining responses from multiple panels. Some panels are different, and others may provide biased or incomplete feedback. By blending responses from additional survey panels, researchers can reduce the impact of these biases and obtain a more accurate and representative view of the population they are studying.

Panel blending typically leverages statistical techniques that weigh the responses of each panel according to its reliability and validity. These weights create a blended dataset that reflects the most accurate and representative view of the population.

How Does IntelliSurvey Use Blended Sourcing?

IntelliSurvey is committed to providing reliable and accurate data through a blended sourcing approach to field management. Our team uses multiple sources to build samples, including systematic multi-sourcing, AI-powered expert human fielding, and data cleaning.

More than 80% of our clients use our rapidly growing field management service, successfully providing cleaner data than other providers. Using multi-sourcing, we draw on reliable panel sources to reach even the most nuanced respondents, ensuring diverse and representative samples. Additionally, our AI-powered expert human fielding and data cleaning processes result in survey data free from duplicates, fraudulent responses, and other sources of bias.

Smoother projects, faster delivery, a larger sample size for challenging projects, and enhanced quality control are just a few examples of how our blended sourcing approach has helped our clients achieve their research goals.

Whether your survey project is hitting roadblocks with survey management or needs additional market research support such as programming or data analysis, we’re here to listen and partner to find the best solution. To explore ways we can work together, please contact us.

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