If you’re contemplating running a panel survey for your study, be sure to develop a thorough and realistic plan of action. Here are some other helpful tips...
Panel surveys are a method of collecting consumer research data; ubiquitous in the fields of marketing and academia, these surveys involve gathering audiences and measuring changes in their behavior over time. This is a kind of longitudinal study that provides invaluable insights to researchers looking to observe how their audiences react to new events or product updates.
Unlike other surveying methods, panel surveys are administered to the same group of participants several times over a longer period. They utilize a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods to capture both numerical figures and qualitative data. These surveys can take the form of digital questionnaires, online or in-person interviews, and or even short research tasks.
The key difference between cohort and panel studies lies with their audiences. While they are both types of longitudinal studies, a cohort study gathers groups of individuals based on their shared characteristics; additionally, cohort studies will survey multiple unique sets of participants over the course of one study. This differs from panel studies, where the audience members being examined are kept consistent throughout the entire course of the study.
Both cohort and panel studies operate over a longer time frame than traditional surveys, as the data they collect is heavily dependent on detecting changes in results.
Designing a research panel survey involves gathering up the various tools and methodologies required for testing. Take the time to first consider the goals you’re looking to accomplish through panel surveying; from there, follow the remaining steps of the panel research process.
Panel research is a labor and time intensive process. As these tests are conducted over extended periods of time, large amounts of data are collected & analyzed; breaking this process down into distinct steps enables researchers to make focused and decisive survey methodology.
The first and most essential step in the panel survey design process is defining a purpose. Researchers strive to narrow down their goals into specific and clearly defined objectives; often starting with asking “how” or “why” a phenomenon occurs. The more sure you are of your research goal, the more clearly you can visualize the methodology needed to complete your study.
This step goes hand in hand with developing your research objectives. It’s not enough to know how you’re going to conduct a study; you must clearly identify your participants as well. After considering which demographic segments you want in your audience, you will have to then consider how they might respond to your testing methods. Structuring your methods around the beliefs and abilities of your target audience is crucial to the success of your research.
This is where you pair your objectives with the proper tools and procedures necessary to achieve them. Identify the online panel survey platforms you’ll use to manage data collection and interact with panelists. Create a plan for how you will use the data you collect later on in your analysis.
Notify your panelists and execute your panel survey testing. Deliver your survey to groups of select panelists, collect feedback, and reconvene. Make changes to your survey design according to notes and audience comments, and then re-submit your survey for additional rounds of testing.
Compile your research and analyze your data. Develop your findings into actionable conclusions that can be directly applied to your research topic.
Create an action plan based on the conclusions you’ve made. Deliver your report to the appropriate stakeholders; work with other departments to implement changes into the system.
Once your teams incorporate the new changes into your product, begin planning for the next set of panel surveys. Panel surveying always works best when treated as a continuous process; one that occurs over the course of a product’s lifetime.
Due to the flexible nature of panel surveys, researchers utilize them to gather insights on a wide variety of topics and interests: purchasing behavior, product performance, changes in consumer preferences, and more.
Below are some of the most common cases for panel study use:
Example 1: Evaluating Product Performance
One of the most common uses for panel studies is for the purpose of evaluating the performance of a product. As panel studies are longitudinal, they can look at how audience perception of a product changes over time; possibly hinting at potential problems with the brand.
Questions in a product panel study may look like:
These questions help researchers to identify key pressure points their customers have about their products, and enable companies to evaluate if their policy changes are moving them in the right direction.
Example 2: Measuring Employee Satisfaction
Measuring employee morale and motivation provides managers and businesses with a number of important benefits. They increase employee engagement, help managers identify bottlenecks or bad policies, and can dramatically increase employee retention; so long as that company is willing to make the appropriate changes to accommodate their workers.
These sorts of panel survey questions, done over several months or longer, will develop your managerial relationship with your employees. Implementing these changes and removing barriers helps increase employee satisfaction and job efficiency.
Example 3: Understanding Changes in Consumer Preference
Panel surveys are one of the most effective ways that businesses can keep informed about changes in consumer taste. When companies track shifts in the preferences of their users, they can more readily adapt their own product to fit those new needs.
This line of questioning can provide researchers with the information necessary to keep up
Panel sampling involves making several key decisions about the size and scope of your research project; as well as the number of participants you’ll be testing and their origins.
In order to properly sample for your panel survey, start by choosing the panel survey website you plan to conduct your polling research with. From there, narrow down your audiences by demographics - until you have a clearly defined group of panelists you want to target.
For example, your panel studies might divide panelists along the lines of their shared:
The panelists sampled for your study will ultimately represent a mixture of these unique demographic groups. When it comes to sampling, a larger test audience often means that your testing is representative of the true population.
If you’re contemplating running a panel survey for your study, be sure to develop a thorough and realistic plan of action. Panel surveys are extremely useful for longitudinal research, like in cases where customer behaviors or preferences evolve over a period of time. Interviewing panelists over an extended period of time - asking them the same questions and noting the differences - can give researchers valuable insight into the minds of their audiences.
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