question mark faceWhenever you plan market research using an online panel, you will have target results in mind. It’s very rare for businesses to engage online consumer panelswithout having the ‘right’ answers in mind during the development of the research project. However, in order to prove that your findings are correct, you do need to offer alternative answers. If you want the study to be truly unbiased you need to allow your respondents the opportunity to give the ‘wrong’ answers.

Once the option is there, it creates the possibility of unexpected and more insightful results. The key is to make sure you achieve the correct balance of what you think are the ‘right’ answers, and the ‘wrong’ answers.

Do Ask Why

When you ask online consumer panels questions, you are absolutely entitled to query their answers. In fact, it is advisable to use follow-up questions to look for extra qualitative data and add context to your results. You can do this simply by asking why. If the answers were the ones you were expecting, the why will illuminate the findings. If the answers weren’t what you were hoping for, the why will help to expand your understanding of how the respondent sees the issue you’re exploring in your research.

Don’t Try To Force the ‘Right’ Answer

It’s vital that you don’t try to force the ‘right’ answers. You should avoid follow up questions that might create contradictive results. Including follow-ups that lean a respondent towards the answer you want will only confuse the panelists and may lead to inaccurate results.

Do Look For Comparative Data

Another way to understand results is to ask questions in parallel. If there are multiple variables that might affect an answer, you can use a similar question to eliminate one of these. Online consumer panels offer the opportunity to ask specific questions of specific people, so it makes sense to gather as much data as possible to ensure your results are a true reflection of the population you’re researching.

Don’t Just Rephrase

If you do use similar groups of questions you need to avoid rephrasing the same question. That can only lead to confusion, especially if you get two different answers from the same respondent. Einstein said the definition of madness was repeating the same behavior and expecting different results. That’s particularly apt here as all you’re doing is multiplying the useless data when you could be exploring different angles entirely.

Do Assess the Findings

When you get the results in, it’s important that you accept them and use the data mentioned above to understand the findings. It is ok to question the results and try to spot errors that may have led to these results, but it’s also important that you bear in mind that a well-designed questionnaire deployed to a good online consumer panel has the potential to surprise you.

Don’t Ignore Them

The most important thing is to listen to the results. Businesses use online consumer panels to learn about their market so there’s no value in denying the learning you get back. The key is to make sure that even the ‘wrong’ answers can lead to the right research results.

Online consumer panels can be a great way to hear what your customers have to say about the service you offer. To get the most out of your consumer panel research download our free white paper.

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