Over the years, R&D Insight has experienced a variety of B2B panel as well as consumer-based community-related research efforts. Initiating and maintaining a pool of dedicated research respondents can be extremely beneficial, but is not without its challenges.

Following are key considerations.

  • Populate the Right Participants: Carefully determine segments of who your initial participants will include, and work to screen and recruit the appropriate mix. This may include a variety of sources such as list purchase, customer / prospective customer invitations, outbound custom recruiting efforts, etc.

    Once you locate the right people, invite them to your program, introducing its benefits and setting up expectations in terms of participation, communication and overall commitment. Ensure they have a method to ask questions / provide feedback, and opt out ongoing as needed.
  • Maintain Participants: Over time, it is important to monitor response, including research participation and opt outs (including providing reasons why). Continue ongoing recruiting efforts to augment participants and maintain panel / community quality.
  • Reward Appropriately: Determine what motivates your audience participation. Is it thought leadership? Priority access to valuable content? Discounted products or services, such as access to a special conference? Research results? Recognition? Loyalty points? Cash? A combination?

    Incent and reward accordingly, varying by research effort (i.e., provide a smaller gratuity for responding to a simple 5-10 minute survey effort versus a larger gratuity for participation relating to in-person research, for example).
  • Provide Research Options: Ensure you provide a mix of a variety of different types of research methodologies and communicate on a regular basis with participants, according to their pre-determined expectations (see “Populate the Right Participants” and “Check In”). This gives different options for participation and ensures a range of experiences, which may appeal to different members of your panel or community.

    If you plan to leverage a sub-set of respondents to dive into a specific research project (typically within a defined timeframe), recruit within your panel or community. Help them understand the topic, and different types of research activities they will engage with over time.
  • Check In: Touch base with your pool of participants to determine their satisfaction and needs, such as the following:
    • Would they like to see other types of research offered?
    • Would they like to see changes to research programs, such as different frequency, length, formats or outputs?
    • What about rewards – do they prefer other types or combinations of gratuity?
    • When it comes to communication, are they obtaining the right amount, or do they prefer a different frequency?
    • What other needs do they have?
    • Do they have other colleagues or friends they recommend to participate in the program (and if so, how can you reward them)?

Overall, many of our clients have found maintaining panel and communities well worth the effort. What are your experiences?