Panel size, recruitment and incentivisation
10th May, 2013 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - 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 Paul Kavanagh - 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
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.
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.
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
Beehive Research Launches
23rd October, 2007 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
Beehive Research Ltd has launched as an independent company specialising in designing, building and managing customer online research panels and communities for its clients. In addition to general online research consultancy, Beehive will also be providing clients with outsourced services for monthly management of their panel(s) and support in building and delivering online research studies and reports.
“Custom online panels are a very effective way for organisations to communicate and obtain feedback and opinion from their clients, customers or even employees. Over the past 3 or 4 years, the number of custom panels and customer communities has been growing, and we see this trend continuing, especially with the excitement that web 2.0 is creating”, says Paul Kavanagh, Director and Founder of Beehive Research Limited.
With over 7 years experience using online research software, conducting online research studies, building complex online reports and online panels, Beehive is well placed to maximise the value from a client’s investment in online research.
Kavanagh, who previously set up and was Head of Experian’s Canvasse Opinion research team and online panel, has launched Beehive to meet the growing demand from clients for online research services and consultancy.
“This is a really exciting time for us at Beehive. Online research has been expanding rapidly over the last few years and more and more clients have built, or are looking at building their own customer online research panels and communities.”
“Online research, however, is still comparatively young and whilst clients frequently have very experienced internal research teams to deliver insight, they often lack the time, resource or experience to build and manage an online panel or community. Beehive’s services enable researchers to focus more time on delivering insight and ROI to the business.”
Kavanagh stresses though, that Beehive is not a software solution provider, “There are many excellent online software platforms in the marketplace and our role is not to be software designers. Instead, we work with our clients and the software to provide innovative solutions that really meet their business objectives”.