Quite simply, without panelists you don’t have a panel.
In every research panel, there are some key members. Knowing a little about these groups and how they tend to behave is important in getting your panel off to a successful start:
- Passive joiners — these agree to join but don’t “bite” and get involved
- One-time visitors — these will join, get involved in a some research and then decide it’s not for them
- Prize chasers — those who will respond to research invites most readily when there’s something in it for them
- Research fans — these respond to research invites but need an email invitation to do so and won’t log in unless prompted
- Panel super fans — your most responsive group of panellists. These members will log in frequently, perhaps even every day to see what research there is to take part in and without email invitations
It’s perfectly natural to get a mixture of these groups and it’s important not to panic if you get some passive joiners and one-time visitors when you’ve just launched your panel; what’s important for having a responsive panel is the other groups making up the majority of your panel.
By taking inspiration from the next few points you’ll be well on your way to creating a research panel that’s ready to respond to your next invite.
1. Give panellists an Incentive
Panellists not only like to know what’s going to happen on a panel but also what’s in it for them. We know from research across our panels 87% are motivated by prizes and rewards so it’s a really good idea to use this to your advantage.
If you’re going to be offering rewards or prizes for taking part in research at some point, let your members know from the moment they join. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the specific details of your rewards, just give the panellist a sneak-peek and the desire to find out will get the better of them and will keep them logging in.
Emphasising the importance of why panellists’ feedback and participation in the panel matters is also really important at the start of a panel. Those who join a panel do so as they want to help and want to have their voice heard, so tell them what you or your client will be getting out of their feedback and how it will help them in the long term.
2. Immediately Immerse Panellists
There’s nothing worse for a new panellist than joining an empty site. If they join and there’s nothing for them to do, then it’s quite likely that they won’t come back for a second look.
Whenever you’re adding panellists, make sure there’s something for them to take part in. It might be that you don’t have any research for them at the time; don’t panic, simply set up a quick survey or feedback activity. This is your opportunity to be able to slot in that question you’ve always wanted to know the answer to!
3. Remember Panellists are People
Remember, panellists are people with day-to-day commitments and aren’t just 24–7 feedback generators, so you need to take this into consideration when planning your research.
As tempting as it is to set up new research and send invites out every day in your enthusiasm, this won’t see your panel getting off to a healthy start. Instead, have a plan for the first few weeks of what you want to ask, remembering to space things out a little. Each bit of research will spike your new members’ interest in the panel and what it has to offer.
Don’t panic if you get a sudden urgent request from a stakeholder, just try not to overload your panellists. A key thing to avoid at any point in a panel, but especially in the early days, is to go too long without any research. 42% of panellists take part for fun, so if you find the panel research requests are a little quiet, why not try introducing some gamification?
4. Carefully Consider Communications
Something that might not necessarily spring to mind as a matter of importance at the start of a panel is your research invites. But with newly launched panels it’s really important to get your email invites right. You want to get your panellists enthused by the site and your research so make sure your emails do this.
This is also linked somewhat to the importance of timing. When launching new panels we often try to get panellists into a bit of a routine. This helps them know when they can expect to see a research invite winging its way into their inbox, so it’s important to plan your research around this.
One of the best times for email invites is about 11.30am on a Friday — why? You’ll capitalise on people winding down for the weekend and those surfing the net during their lunchbreaks. If you have a B2B panel, not only which day your invite is sent but also the time you send it becomes important. We have found that within office hours just before lunch gets the best response rate.
Once you have your panel up and running, long-term panel management strategies take over. You need to explore ways and means of getting your passive joiners and one-time visitors engaged and responding to your panel invitations.