Online research panel size, recruitment and incentivisation

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 on your online research panel size, and how to recruit and incentivise participants.

Online research panel size, recruitment and incentivisation

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. See the case study…

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