8 Steps to Using an Online Market Research Panel

One of the most exciting moments for a market research professional is when the survey you took so much time to craft and perfect is ready to hit the field! Often times, fieldwork for online surveys can incorporate multiple methods like using the Drive Research panel, online outreach, and other panel sources to achieve the goal number of completes.

The set up involved when using an online panel can be tricky. In this post, we'll discuss the steps involved to take your online survey from word document to usable data.

Follow these 8 steps when using online panel for your next survey!

8 Steps to Using an Online Market Research Panel

Want to know the 8 steps to set your online survey up for success? Learn more below!


Step #1: Program the survey

First things first, we've got to get the survey set up in online survey software. Once you have ensured all of the question and answer text is copied correctly from your survey draft, it's important to test the survey. When testing, it's typical to find small edits to make on question text, answer text, as well as question routing/logic.

Not sure what question routing is? The simple answer is when specific questions are shown or hidden based on the respondent's answers to previous questions. For example, if a respondent indicates they would like to enter the sweepstakes or incentive for completing your online survey, you should have a follow-up question asking for their contact information to be used if they win.

Once you have completed your review of the survey, it's always important to have a team member review the survey as well. Their fresh take on the survey may find further improvements!


Step #2: Get a CPI quote

CPI refers to Cost Per Interview, for online surveys this may also be referred to as cost per complete. Here is where you will find out how much it will cost to reach your goal for the number of completes you would like to receive.

There are many different factors that affect this price. To give you some insight, reaching general consumers is much less expensive than reaching people with specific characteristics (such as retail managers who work within a 5 hour radius of Syracuse, NY, are left handed, and drink strawberry milk).

Want to get caught up with more market research terms and acronyms? Here's a cheat sheet.


Step #3: Add redirect links

Once you sign off with the online panel vendor, you will need to set up the survey redirect links they provide. This will let the survey vendor know when a respondent disqualifies or screens out of a survey and when a respondent completes the survey. You will also need to be able to seed in custom panel IDs, which is a unique code given to each panel member that allows the panel vendor to identify respondents.


Step #4: Set quota

This is a pretty simple one that researchers will use during an online survey project when using an online panel vendor. Researchers can set a quota to ensure they are collecting more responses than their total number of completes goal, meaning that if you wanted 100 completes but you collected 200, the online panel vendor will be charging you for total completes (even if it wasn't intentional).

Setting quotas help us stick to our goal (and budget) for completes!

Don't over sample! Set a quota.


Step #5: Receive test IDs

Always, always, always test!

Here is where researchers work with online panel vendors to ensure the redirect links and panel IDs are working as intended. Typically, the online survey panel vendor will submit a complete as well as a disqualifier. Once this process is complete, the research and panel vendor will ensure the panel IDs match the test respondents.

Remember to delete these tests responses before starting fieldwork! You wouldn't want test data disrupting your actual data or sneaking into your report.


Step #6: Soft launch

We've always got to walk before we can run.

Soft launching your survey (or as we like to call it at Drive Research, a "test drive") is always great practice to ensure all questioning is be interpreted correctly, question logic is working correctly, and data is being collected as expected.

Usually, I start with a handful of responses, say 25 completes, before fully launching the survey. This should also give you some insight into how quickly fieldwork can be completed.


Step #7: Full launch

So your tests and soft launch went well? Looks like you are ready to fully launch fieldwork!

Once you begin the full launch of fieldwork, you will want to keep a close eye on your data to ensure correctness and progress of completes. You may also need to pay attention to data splits of interest. Are genders represented well? Are age groups represented well? You may be able to work with your panel vendor here to ensure you're collecting data effectively to reach your end goal.

3... 2... 1... Let the full launch of fieldwork begin!


Step #8: Send IDs

Once you've reached your goal for the number of completes, your next step is to clean the data and identify any respondents that you would like replaced.

Here are some classic data quality checks in market research:

Speeding: When respondents complete a survey too quickly, meaning that they may not have read questions fully before answering.

Flat-lining: When respondents choose the same answer for several rating questions, similar to speeding this means that the respondent may not have read questions fully before answering.

Duplicates: You'll want to check to ensure all respondents are unique in your data set. This is typically more difficult to identify when using an online panel vendor, but you can check for duplicates in IP address or any other types of personal data that should be unique to each respondent.

Bad open-ended responses: This is a pretty simple one. Researchers need to read through each open-ended response provided by respondents for comments that don't make sense. Don't just look in the open-ended questions but "others" as well.

Once you have replaced any cases that failed quality checks, your last step is to export the data file and send a list of panel IDs that completed the survey to the online panel vendor.


Contact Drive Research, Online Survey Firm Serving New York

Have you heard of Drive Research yet? Our team of pros manages a number of online survey projects in New York State and from coast to coast.

Have questions about an upcoming online survey project or need a quote from our online survey firm?

Contact us at info@driveresearch.com or call us at 315-303-2040.

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