Panel size, recruitment and incentivisation
10th May, 2013 - Posted by GreenfieldsPR - No Comments
In the third in our series of posts on global panel management we thought we’d look at some of the things to consider when deciding how large your panel should be, and how to recruit and incentivise participants.
Assuming you have already determined the primary use for your panel and you have identified who you want to take part in it, a key question to ask is what do you know about your target group of respondents? Do you already have information on these people that could be incorporated – e.g. recency, frequency, monetary (RFM) data, or a customer segmentation – to help inform projects, manage representation and generally assist in your approach to their recruitment and incentivisation?
Decisions around the volume of responses required per project and the frequency of projects that you intend to run need to be made early, as they will impact your panel design. You don’t want your panel to be too small to be fit for purpose, but then neither do you want it to be any larger than absolutely necessary. It is important to understand the impact that a larger panel will have both on budget and sustaining engagement levels.
Panellists like to feel engaged and there are a number of ways to incentivise people to take part and to avoid them becoming disengaged: for some regular invites to take part in an activity can be enough; but if you contact panellists too often they can suffer from over exposure or fatigue, and become disengaged.
Another good technique is to communicate openly with panellists about how their feedback is helping to shape your business, as this will make them feel that their contribution is valued. However, this alone might not be enough to keep them motivated. Do you need to consider additional incentives? If so, it’s worth remembering that what works for one market might not work for another. For example, while prize draws and sweep stakes are a fairly common way of rewarding panellists, competition laws are country specific and thus it can be difficult to implement one standard scheme across all markets.
Charitable donations are also widely used, but then you need to consider whether this is an appealing enough incentive for everyone in your target group. It is unlikely that you can use the same incentive programme in every market.
When deciding on the number of people you need to recruit to the panel you should take into account various factors including the frequency of panel use, the volume of responses required for each study and the likely response rates. Typically between 20-50% of panel participants usually respond to a panel survey, so this should give you an idea of the number of panellists you will need to ensure responses will meet volume requirements and be representative.
Nespresso case study: A global panel in action
Nespresso gives each of its panellists the choice to enter a prize draw or have it make a donation on their behalf to an Ecolaboration project that supports coffee producing communities. Read more…
Global panels – what drives engagement?
27th March, 2013 - Posted by GreenfieldsPR - No Comments
In our last post on ‘What do I need to consider when designing a global panel?’ we talked about the importance of being clear on your objective for your global panel and who you want to take part in it – and how these will dictate just about every other aspect of your panel. This includes the engagement levels of your panel respondents.
It is certainly easier for consumers to engage with some brands and topics over others. People are more likely to want to talk about their favourite brand of coffee than their personal finances, for example. This is likely to be the case in most countries, but engagement with a particular brand or topic could well vary according to market.
Having an emotional investment in the brand certainly helps with engagement levels. Brand loyalty, for example, not only helps to motivate panel participation but can also negate the need for more ‘explicit’ (e.g. financial) incentives to participate. Consumers tend to invest more emotionally in brands and therefore consumer panels often enjoy higher levels of engagement than B2B panels. But don’t forget that emotions are culturally specific. That means the level to which consumers emotionally invest in a brand varies by country.
The type of panel you choose to run will naturally have an impact on engagement levels as well. A panel used to run surveys won’t achieve the same level as an interactive community that allows for two-way communication between you and your respondents.
Communicating with people in their chosen language might lead to greater engagement, but this needs to be balanced with other considerations. (See our 4th March post for more on language considerations in survey design.)
Your choice of communication channels, their content and design, will also influence respondent engagement. Are you planning to have a panel website with a members’ area? Are your target respondents likely to be online? Who is going to manage and update this with interesting content? Is what you’re saying really of interest to your panel members?
Just as language is culturally specific, so too is design. Would you render the website unbranded, fully branded or create a brand especially for it? Again, your decision will come back to who you want to engage.
Nespresso case study: A global panel in action
What do I need to consider when designing a global panel?
4th March, 2013 - Posted by GreenfieldsPR - No Comments
Everyone has a different business or research objective for running a panel, from concept and product testing to customer feedback. Your objectives are the starting point for us at Beehive, as it influences just about every aspect of your panel including its design.
Your objectives will determine the size of your panel, and who your target audience/respondents are. The type of interaction you want to have with your respondents will influence how you mine for information and dictate the type of panel you run; this might be a straightforward quantitative panel or one of a number of more qualitative community types. The difference between these is largely to do with the extent to which you want to allow two-way communication – between you and your respondents, and between respondents.
You also need to bear in mind that the type of information you need to get to has implications for whether you can select to run the panel in English or will need to provide respondents the option of using their language of preference or residence. Some questions will have country specific answers, such as those around the availability of brands and relating to currency. Assuming you have allowed respondents the option of using their language of preference to complete the survey, you will need to consider at the panel design phase how to manage responses to questions specific to their country of residence.
How do you plan to manage respondent queries? You’ll need to answer queries quickly and preferably in the respondent’s chosen language. How you reply and the speed with which you respond will impact their perception of your brand.
What methodology should you use? Qual or quant, or a blend of both? How should you run your panel? It doesn’t necessarily need to be online, although this is usually a more efficient and cost-effective method. Focusing again on your target respondents for a moment, you need to reach out to them using their preferred channel of communication in order to keep the panel representative. If they aren’t online, then do you consider using the telephone or other channels?
Case study: A global panel in action
Nespresso challenged Beehive to come up with a global panel that would enable it to source feedback in a systematic way across 13 countries and consolidate its customer insight practices, allowing it continually to improve its performance.
Why bees don’t make stupid decisions, and people do
5th October, 2011 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
When we observe financial meltdowns or environmental debacles, often behind each were people who exercised very poor judgment. What’s more, step back from the decisions that were made and it is easy to conclude that the decisions were suspect from the start and should have been called out at the time options were being considered. Since bees can’t afford to be wrong (since it may cost them their lives), they protect themselves against decisions that can spiral out of control in wrong-headed directions. They do this in a number of ways.
Briefly, bees avoid going off course by listening to what other bees have to say; exploring contrary facts; changing their minds when better alternatives appear; and making judgments for themselves without the undue influence of others. When bees advertise an unlikely spot to find nectar, what do the other bees do? They check the place out. Some researchers think that bees lack certain cognitive-perceptual abilities that prevent them from visiting implausible locations, but another, equally likely explanation is that bees have no reason to suspect their sisters of deceiving them. Given that all members of the hive want the same things, when a bee is advocating for something that will potentially help the colony, why not listen?
Additionally, honeybees do not prematurely close off discourse when presented with facts in opposition to their recent experiences. For example, after the bees have fully exploited the nectar of a flower patch, they abandon the patch, checking back periodically to make sure that circumstances have not changed. Later, however, they may observe a scout bee directing them back to the very place that they have previously abandoned. Still, the bees do not gaze incredulously at the scout as if to suggest, “We’ve been to that spot, and there is nothing there,” the organizational equivalent to, “We’ve tried that before, and it doesn’t work.” What do they do instead? They visit the site to see for themselves, knowing that their prior assessment may no longer apply.
Bees also give up on their initial positions and yield to other, better alternatives. This ability is most striking during the bees’ swarming process. When hives get too large in numbers, they divest themselves of little less than half their members. The swarm then sends out a couple hundred scout bees to search for a new home. Most scouts return to the swarm without having found a site that satisfies minimum requirements. A dozen or so return with good news. This news is expressed through the bees’ dance language. The higher the quality of the site, the more enthusiastic the dance. The ultimate purpose of this dance is to recruit uncommitted scouts to the targeted site for a showing. Scout bees repeatedly return to their chosen sites for additional assessments, but their enthusiasm for each site declines at a relatively fixed rate with each visit. This means that bees’ attraction to lower-quality hives extinguishes first, creating the opportunity for them to find and settle on higher-quality spots. In effect, bees may abandon their initial positions and “reset” their commitment levels as they become open to new possibilities. What is most illustrative of this decision process is the trust placed in the independent assessments of evaluators. This independence prevents bad decisions from proliferating. A decision is finalized only after every bee with something to say (communicate) has said it, and the other bees have individually made their choices. The result? Bees find a new home that won’t be the death of them.
How do we apply this in research or online panels and research communities? Well, by merely having a research panel or community an organisation is already tapping into the ‘hive consensus’ and learning from their customers. By listening to the ‘buzz’ they are making enables the marketer to make more informed decisions, which is an effective way to keep bad decisions in check!
This is an extract from an article in Psychology Today by Michael O’Malley, who is a social psychologist and best-selling author of The Wisdom of the Bees.
Secrets of the beehive
27th April, 2011 - Posted by Tom Raybould - No Comments
Management consultant Michael O’Malley took up beekeeping as hobby, but he soon realised that the way hives work can teach us many lessons in business. After studying their behaviour he began to understand that bees perform extremely complex tasks within their communities by working together and achieving goals.
They rely on coordination, efficiency and productivity from many different sets of workers within the hive. In short, the hive is an ever evolving organisation that often behaves in similar ways to successful businesses. Michael O’Malley recently published a book “The Wisdom of Bees” – here are some of his observations. See which ones could apply to you!
Protecting the future
Colonies do not look to maximise return in the short term. If bees find a rich vein of nectar in a given patch of flowers they don’t all rush off to mine it immediately, despite the enticing short term gains.
They also maintain their “R&D” in the form of scout bees always looking further afield for richer pickings. Opposite to most businesses, the worse conditions get, the more they invest in exploring new areas by sending more scouts.
It’s a common misconception that the queen bee does all the work and dominates all activities in the hive. In reality she delegates relentlessly, and worker bees make daily decisions based on local stimulus and requirements. The most important decisions are those made by the bees closest to the action who have the best information.
Safeguarding against destruction
Genetically diverse hives are more productive – having “different” bees enables the hive to be more sensitive to a wider range of environmental stimuli and prevents it from responding in unison to a narrow set of similar cues.
The hive can never lose essential functions otherwise it breaks down and will cease to exist. For example too few foragers or too few nurse bees to nurture the young will put the hive’s future in serious jeopardy. If something breaks down the hive has a resource of precocious “cross-trained” bees that can be fast tracked into filling the needed roles quickly.
Bees do make mistakes in that they often over-adjust to outside supply conditions. When building a comb (which is very expensive to manufacture) they under-build when nectar resources are low, but over-build when it is abundant. Interestingly though, they don’t do the opposite: over-build when times are hard or under-build in times of plenty, thus safeguarding the long term prospects of the hive.
Hives are also socially responsible organisations. When pollinating, they replenish the nectar they extract. When harvesting they don’t take all the pollen or nectar from flowers because plants recover faster when they are not completely depleted.
It would appear that everything bees do is geared toward sustaining personal well being and in doing so, the ongoing life of the hive; this is the ethos we strive to achieve at Beehive Research . The Wisdom of Bees is an interesting and entertaining guide for any manager looking to get the most out of his or her organisation . To find out more click here http://www.thewisdomofbees.com/
Custom panel or ORC – managed in-house or fully outsourced?
13th July, 2010 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
There is plenty of debate over which is more appropriate a custom panel or an online research community (ORC), and the choice of one or other of these is very specific to an organisations business and research requirements and there are certainly merits for both.
This in isolation though is just one of the decisions an organisation has to make when considering the value a custom panel or ORC can bring to its business. One of the lesser discussed topics and one that can cause far more issues is whether the panel or ORC should be managed in-house or fully outsourced.
The benefits of management of any project in-house are that it gives the organisation greater control, means that cost becomes an internal one rather than external and enables the organisation to set its own agenda, processes and usage.
However the arguments for a fully outsourced solution are equally compelling, especially when considering a custom panel or ORC. The first is the benefit of wider experience and skills that an external organisation can provide. Many organisations are not able to recruit a specialist with relevant experience and more often than not will put “someone in the deep end” and leave them to make their own learning and mistakes.
In addition, managing a custom panel or ORC requires more than one skill set, for example a technical person to build and develop the solution; a campaign / project manager to build and manage the research studies or moderate the forum; a researcher to provide research know how and derived insight; a data processing specialist to manipulate data and manage CRM feeds; a compliance manager knowledgeable about Data Protection, MRS guidelines, Gaming and Prize Draw law; an overall manager to give it direction and drive value into the business.
The issue for the organisation is whether to spread these requirements across a group of individuals, often not in the same team or division and with other duties to perform or to incur the cost of recruiting a specialist team which adds to overall cost. The advantage of the outsourced custom panel or approach is that all of these key skills are available on an “as needed” basis allowing an organisation to benefit from specialist knowledge as and when required and cutting internal salary and associated infrastructure costs.
Resource is a key factor and at a time when most organisations have recruitment freezes or policies for staff replacement only, the outsourced argument can look very favourable.
Outsourcing of a custom panel or ORC also provides the organisation greater flexibility in usage, is far more scalable and there is less of an issue when key staff are on leave or ill.
So are in-house or fully managed solutions the only options or are there any alternatives? One option is the “hybrid” management solution where certain key skills are retained in-house but the organisation works closely with a partner in a partially/shared managed custom panel or ORC. This approach has many of the benefits of the fully outsourced solution but also enables the organisation to utilise existing internal resource. Teamwork, definition of roles and responsibilities and a good working relationship are essential in such an approach but with trust and careful management can be an extremely effective option.
So the decision is not only a custom panel or an ORC, but also how it is managed.
We would be interested to hear your views on these issues and any key successes/challenges that you have experienced.
Research Community – benefits
9th June, 2010 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
The most significant benefit of a research community is its ability to enable community members to interact and communicate on specific subjects between each other; instead of just having a one way dialogue with the researcher they are able to discuss, collaborate, and coerce with others. This organic growth of conversation, similar to that seen in a focus group though on a wider scale, can take your research in directions that you never expected and reveal insight that would be harder to extract from traditional methods. With the careful moderation and administration this can deliver wider opportunities and information.
Research community feedback is more continuous; the cycle of feedback is not restricted to when you want to ask a question but rather when a community member wants to be involved. This means a subject can remain open for a longer period of time enabling the conversation to evolve. Multiple discussion strands allow many conversations to be going on at any one time enabling feedback on the same subject but looking at it from different angles. The continuous feedback enables your customers to tell you what they want to buy, how they think improvements can be made or products they would like to see without direct questioning; all you need to do is listen (and steer).
Word of mouth
Word of mouth is rapidly becoming a strong influencing factor when it comes to people investing in a brand. Some people don’t trust the word of corporations and are blind to the glossy advertisements on TV or in print preferring instead to follow the advice of their peers; having champions of your brand within these circles give you a voice where otherwise you might not be heard.
As a company, being seen to deal with any detractors or negative views about your brand swiftly and effectively can actually turn a potential pinch point into a demonstration of how well you treat your customers. Whatever the touch point with your organisation customers like to feel involved and listened to; the more positive a community member feels the more investment they have with your brand and, as has been clearly shown in many situations before, loyalty and their keenness to spread the good word of your company are linked. Thus a research community can influence behaviour and the way a member engages within their own social circle and how they champion your brand.
As a versatile research platform a community can be linked to other survey methodologies enabling you to quantify ideas that are extracted from discussions. It can also spark new areas of research that previously may have been ignored or simply overlooked and enables a business to follow customer thoughts and really listen to customers rather than trying to steer them.
As with all research methodologies though there are pros and cons and like a research panel unless the right foundations are put in place in your community and the objectives fully understood before creating one it may not deliver its full return on investment.
Further information on foundations that underpin a research panel or community can be found at www.beehiveresearch.co.uk/members.
Firm foundations at the heart of any research panel
6th May, 2010 - Posted by Tom Raybould - No Comments
This principle stretches beyond the SEO work I am currently doing on our website and applies also to the research panels that we build. It’s easy to get distracted by the bells and whistles, the shiny new features or the newest technology, however without the fundamentals underpinning your research panel or community, the integrity of any of your research or feedback could be flawed.
For example focussing your budget on the appearance of a web portal such as a gimmicky flash animation at the expense of the basic cornerstones that underpin a quality research panel or community may be unwise. Likewise a failure to collect the right information on panellists could compromise bespoke segmentation systems and undermine the effectiveness of monitoring representation.
Jimi Hendrix once sang “And so castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually”. If your research panel is not solidly built on firm foundations it will fall apart when it comes under serious scrutiny. Without robust data any further interrogation could cause any research inferences you make to crumble as the shortcomings of its foundations are highlighted.
We really believe that foundations are fundamental and should be at the heart of any research panel or community otherwise budgets are being wasted. Why not refer to our 7 Key Principles of Best Practice Custom Panel Management.
Using the right tool for the right job
24th February, 2010 - Posted by Tom Raybould - No Comments
You can use a hammer to drive screws but the results tend to be less than satisfying, likewise you can use a screwdriver to hammer nails with little to no effect. Both the screwdriver and the hammer are highly effective tools when applied in the correct situation. This doesn’t apply just to potentially self-harmful DIY escapades, everyday we make choice after choice to ensure the tools we use give us the results we desire. It’s about using the right tool for the right job.
Research evolution has brought us “Communities” and as with many new solutions the research community is touted as a silver bullet for many research requirements. There is no denying that the research community methods and applications are potentially vast, but is it always the best solution in every situation? Converting the potential of a community requires a great deal of skill, effort and time and with the wealth of other methodologies and tools available to the researcher the question should perhaps be is it the most appropriate in all situations?
Thus are you using the right tool for the job?
Research panel management best practice guide
16th November, 2009 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
How will our FREE 24 page guide help you?
Sometimes online research can seem a little like the “wild west”, there are lots of pioneers out there, but not much clear guidance on how they should operate. Whether you are thinking of setting up a new online panel, a research community or managing an existing one, we at Beehive have put together a clear, practical road map to help steer you in the right direction.
Our 7 Principles of Custom Panel Management will demystify the process of developing your customer panel into a key business asset. This guide will help you tune into the true voice of the customer, improve the integrity and validity of your panel and, through panel enrichment, deliver greater depth of insight in research findings. We will show you techniques to keep your panel in good health and maintain information accuracy, while ensuring your panel members are engaged and motivated.
We highlight tried and tested quality control routines that will help you standardise your practices and improve consistency. This guide will also help you avoid the potential costly pitfalls of failing to meet legal compliance and Industry codes of practice.
Why is Quality Panel Management so important?
Investing in a custom panel pays huge dividends to an organisation, not only in the cost saving that can be gained from conducting research to the group (savings of 40 to 50% not uncommon), but also in the valuable and rapid insight that the panel can give to help make informed decisions and drive businesses forward.
However, when making important decisions that can have an impact upon the success or failure of a new product or service, an ad campaign, a pricing strategy or other strategically important objective, the credibility of the information on which the decision is based must be robust otherwise the wrong direction can be taken.
Your key asset
For this reason the quality of the sample or audience interviewed must therefore be of the highest quality otherwise any cost saving derived can be insignificant to the impact of a misdirected decision. Custom panels therefore, whilst a massive business asset, must be treated as such and the implementation of a well designed custom panel (a separate best practice guide is available on this) and a quality panel management process does lead to better informed decisions, competitive advantage and a better return on the investment.
At Beehive we therefore believe that every custom panel should be treated as the asset it is and by adhering to our principles of best practice will deliver the organisation greater value, more robust results and more informed decisions.
In the guide we have isolated 7 key principles of Best Practice Quality Panel Management that will make an organisation’s custom panel more effective:
7 key principles of Best Practice Quality Panel Management
- Principle 1 – Diversity and representation – “Obtaining balanced opinions”
- Principle 2 – Validation and enhancement – “Real people, real information”
- Principle 3 – Information accuracy – “Keeping it current and true”
- Principle 4 – Managing engagement – “All people are not the same”
- Principle 5 – Reporting and monitoring – “Panel health”
- Principle 6 – Quality control – “Auditable processes”
- Principle 7 – Compliance – “Keeping it legal”
To obtain your free 24 page guide register in the Beehive Members area – www.beehiveresearch.co.uk/members