My work is primarily based around measuring event marketing, but every once in awhile, the need for panel research arises. Panel research studies are interesting because they are essentially a three-month-long project condensed into a couple of weeks. This can be fun, but it can also be hectic. It quickly becomes apparent if data collection is suffering. You have less time, and need to invest more money in order to fix the problem.
Choosing a panel research partner
The best way to avoid spending too much time and money (or sanity) is to have a good panel research partner from the get-go.
Having a list of four to five different companies you prefer to work with can make the bidding process flow quickly. Having preset expectations for each company reduces the likelihood of getting unexpected surprises.
What to watch for during the bidding process
The bidding process can be an effective way to see the early warning signs of panel research becoming a struggle.
The obvious top-level concern is if multiple vendors come say that they won’t be able to deliver on your expectations.
If you find that your regular vendors are struggling to hit your target, you can work around this by sourcing from multiple vendors. Should you chose to do this however, always make sure to inform those vendors.
This will help to prevent them from using the same sample should they bring in outside partners.
Should you have one company that says they can deliver your complete sample size, despite multiple others saying they cannot, you should advance cautiously.
Vendors commonly share many of the same or similar sources for panelists, so one group having a strikingly large amount compared to others should be a red flag.
Follow up to try to determine how they have the resources to do this. Sometimes they will have special lists that happen to match your goals, or a partner that the other vendors you have talked to, but don’t work with.
As a general rule, when looking at bids, I recommend cutting 10% from any delivered sample size. This lets you take into account any bad data and still have a robust base.
Data quality checks in panel results
All panel research surveys are going to contain some bad data. Typically, it’s people who simply rush through the entire survey and give absurd answers. Other times, it’s a result of people taking the survey multiple times.
If this is something you want to know more about, read my post on ensuring the integrity of your online panel data.
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