There’s a common misconception most businesses make with online panel providers. When businesses operate panel surveys they compare providers on price, but rarely consider the actual value of one provider against another. Often each provider gets treated equally as just a vendor. They assume the product involved is going to be the same. It’s a common mistake and one that could be expensive.
Reputable online panel providers are far more than merely vendors of a commodity product; they are likely to offer real, measurable value in a multitude of other ways. A price comparison is never going to identify the best panel provider for your survey. For that you need to look a lot deeper.
The actual process of developing and project managing your survey should have a huge influence on your choice of online panel provider. Different providers offer different systems and while ach may appear to do a very similar job, you may find that certain providers offer options that others don’t. How well they communicate with you and the quality of the online tools available for you to use can make the difference between just hitting your sample targets and acquiring data that you can trust and have complete faith in basing your strategic decision making on.
An good online panel provider doesn’t stop at just running your survey for you; they help you to get the maximum possible value out of doing so. Your online panel provider can advise you on all aspects of the survey project, from deciding on whom to screen in or out, to designing the questionnaire. An experienced provider will be able to tell you when you’ve overlooked an opportunity or suggest an avenue you hadn’t considered. They will also be vital in planning the research methodology so you get the best value possible. One of the most complex aspects of online research planning is establishing and working to a realistic budget. Your online panel provider’s experience with incidence rates, sample sizes and cost per response will help you make the right budget choices.
The real skill of a successful online panel provider is in developing a panel that can suit multiple client needs. The best online panel providers will be the ones with the most versatile panels. In order to access the right respondents for your survey, you need to work with a provider offering a panel that has sufficient respondents to meet your sample target. No matter how good the other facets are, without the right panel you won’t get the right results.
When searching for an online panel provider it’s important to consider more than just the price. You can’t afford to forget factors like experience, ease of communication, ability to assist with shaping your project and online tools that will help you to gain the maximum possible insight from the data.
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