Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Recruitment of participants for Online Research Communities, the role of Online Access Panels

If you know the business of online access panels maybe because you sometimes need that kind of service, you may know that providers of online access panels position themselves on the ground of huge panelsizes or because of delivered quality. The respective underlying business model is correspondingly either quantities or it is defined by the quality of respondents’ information.

Both models of course have several advantages and disadvantages.

Quantity model
- Even small audiences with low incidence rates can be reached adequately
- High demands on field time and costs can be met
- Large numbers of cases are possible

- Higher fluctuation and "panel-mortality"
- Only few qualifying information about the participants available
- Recruitment methods are not always transparent
- Only little knowledge about the influence of the panel model on panelists self-perception as survey participants

Quality-driven model
- High quality responses on more strict rules of access to new panel members (eg member-get-member)
- Extensive screening
- Qualitative analysis of the panelists (eg minimization of screen-outs as the basis of the relationship management)
- Limitation in case of low incidences are needed
- Limitation on the number of cases to be achieved
- Slightly higher costs

Photo by http://blog.allworkandnoplay.de/
In the context of online research community projects it is necessary to recruit participants not only to because of their target-group characteristics. You rather put demands on communication skills beyond “tip-the-box” as well as sufficient intrinsic motivation to participate.

Wherever it is generally a good idea to recruit participants via online access panels, we prefer those providers with a quality-driven approach. Results always are extremely high response rates, low drop-out rates over time (even in communities with longer durations) and last but not least positive effects in terms of ­panelists’ appreciation being a participant in market research. Without participants and their willingness to share their experiences, attitudes and preferences, we would have a hard time. 

So it is always a pleasure to read feedback like this after completion of online research communities:

“Thanks a lot to the moderators and creators of this community. I had a lot of fun and I have learned a lot. I’m happy that I was able to exchange with others and there were a lot of good hints. You, the scribblers, have been a great group! Thanks a lot. I wish all the best to all participants and perhaps we will meet one day on the internet or even in real life.”

Make sure to join the discussions about panels and communities at the upcoming The Market Research Event  in Florida, hosted by IIR, USA. We’ll have plenty to discuss...

About the author: Christian Dössel is blogging about market research in German language here and here. After having worked for TNS, TBWA\ and other strategy and market research agencies he now holds the position of Senior Research Director at MM-Eye in Hamburg / Germany with special responsibilities for MM-Eye's new media and online research approaches

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