What is a Research Panel? | Market Research Company Albany, NY

Market research panels are growing in popularity among all organizations. As a market research company serving Albany and Upstate New York, Drive Research has worked with a number of organizations to help them build their in-house research panels. Requests to build a research panel have grown tremendously in the past 5 years.

We all know there is a lot of market research and survey noise in the industry. Consumers are being asked left and right to complete surveys from everything from hamburgers to customer service calls. This abundance of market research invites as well as a decline in response rates from phone surveys has resulted in companies trying to find new ways to gather the data they need. A decline in landlines and caller ID on cell phones has crippled response rates.

What is a Research Panel? | Market Research Company Albany, NY

Panel members opt-into to participation in future market research opportunities.

What is a Research Panel?

A research panel is a group of respondents who agree to participate in research opportunities. This could come in the form of an online survey invite, a phone call, or mail survey. The group of panel members opt-into the panel and expect invitations to participate. As payback for being a member or taking part in the research they are often rewarded with sweepstakes entries, points, or gift cards.

How can a Research Panel Help Your Organization?

A research panel is a way to inexpensively and quickly gain feedback for market research. Rather than seeking survey completes through social media, companies can reach out to their panel members to obtain the data they need. Reaching out through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are good options to collect survey data, however, return varies from project-to-project and the response rates are largely unknown.

Should You Build a Research Panel?

There are several benefits to building a market research panel with a market research company in Albany, in Upstate New York, or anywhere in the United States. Many market research companies specialize in building and recruiting panels for your business needs. Panels are an excellent way to create efficiency and save money in the long-run.

They also create a pre-set audience that can be used for any market research needs that arise. Want to test creative for an upcoming commercial? Reach out to the panel. Want feedback on your new customer service phone protocol? Email the panel. Care to better understand how users perceive the new organization's website? How about some User Experience (UX) research with the panel? The options are endless.

What are the Core Benefits of Building a Research Panel?

There are several advantages to building and using a market research panel at your organization. These range from time savings to cost benefits as discussed earlier which could be the 2 largest benefits. All of these benefits will be explained in a bit more detail below.

Quick Turnaround

This may be the most important benefit of all. If you were to attempt to complete a survey via social media it could take days or weeks to finish. Your survey link may take this time to build buzz, shares, and likes. Customer emails will offer a quick turnaround but the response rate will likely be much lower than invitations to a panel. Remember, panel members have previously agreed to participate in market research.

Increased Ownership

As a "member", panel participants take an active and engaged role in your market research needs. Members feel as though they are owners and drivers to product improvements, service improvements, and improving business in general.

Cost Savings

Instead of spending extra time sending out reminder emails on your customer survey or spending expensive dollars on social media to obtain completes, having an in-house group of willing participants saves your organization money. Rather than using someone else's panel for survey completes, think about building one in-house instead.

Continued Awareness

If you are conducting several studies throughout the year it creates a side benefit of keeping your company top-of-mind among customers. The panel serves as an e-blast for your organization each time you send out an online survey. These panel efforts become additional marketing touch-points.

Growing Relationships

By using the panel feedback to drive improvements at your organization, you develop a relationship with customers on deeper level. They know your company listens to feedback and takes action which results in them being more likely to offer feedback next time.

What are the Steps Involved in Building a Research Panel?

Several steps are involved in putting together a research panel from start to finish. The acronym Drive Research, a market research company in Albany, NY likes to follow is named PROLES. Each of the letters stands for 1-step in the process which related to a panel build.


This is the first step and the most crucial part of the process. This is when you determine the goals and objectives of the market research. Do you want to develop a panel of only customers? Do you want to recruit non-customers? Past customers? Potential customers? Defining the make-up of the panel is the first step.

The planning also needs to include the design of the registration form, payouts, frequency of use, etc. Determine how you will market for the panel. Determine what your budget is. All of these factors need to be addressed before you press "go."


The recruit involves the actual recruitment of panel members. Will you use a quick build and send out email invitations to your customer list? Or will you begin to market it slowly through your Facebook page and Twitter profile? Are there specific audiences you'll be targeting? Perhaps you'll want to consider oversampling the younger audiences to make sure they are represented in the panel.


This step may be the most labor intensive step of the PROLES process. This involves monitoring sign-ups, sending welcome emails, and answering questions as they come in. The oversight of the research panel can be an everyday task if recruitment is open enrollment. It's a large time commitment. This is another reason you should consider hiring out for this work.


The listening portion of the market research panel is the actual fieldwork that is collected from panel members. These are the studies designed to answer business objectives. The market research company and the sponsoring organization uses the panel feedback to answer key business questions and make better decisions.


The examination step of the panel build and usage is the analysis and reporting portion of the project. The examination of the data allows analysts to dig into the results and understand key metrics, data points, and highlights. If your panel respondents were kind of enough to give their time to offer feedback, you need to spend the appropriate time in the analysis to uncover these key themes.


A final step in the market research panel build that is often forgotten about is the sharing of the data with members. Sharing some of the nuggets from the research and findings with members helps them understand how the data is being used to take next steps. This helps promote ownership and encourages feedback on the next panel survey.

This can come in the form of an email with bullet points. It can also be shared as an infographic or another visually appealing graphic. No matter what you choose, make sure you share at least some of the takeaways with respondents on your panel.

Interested in a Research Panel?

A panel build-out is a large commitment and long-term initiative for any company. Using a third-party who has experience in this area can ensure the process works efficiently and smoothly. Choose a market research company that can not only build the market research panel but work with you as a strategic partner for the long-run.

Once you build and recruit the panel to create a base of respondents, your organization will need to commit to using the panel on a regular basis. Working with a company who has the past experience building the panel and knows of your objectives can only help with future projects.

Drive Research is a market research company in Albany, NY. Questions about building a market research panel with your customers or non-customers? We are a market research panel company who assists organizations in designing, recruiting, and managing surveys. Contact us at 315-303-2040 or email us at [email protected].

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