The Life of a Research Panelist: Invitations Count

One of my first posts on this blog was about the way online research panels bombard panelists with requests to participate in research. It seemed like I was being invited to take part in surveys that were not relevant and getting these invitations at an alarming rate.

How companies treat panelists came to my mind again last week as I listed to speakers at the Social Media and Community Strategies 2.0 Conference. It seemed like as a research panelist I was only treated as product, not as a part of a community where I had any real control over my own experience.

After tweeting out the question “do panel companies think of their panelists as customers?” (I received a nice reply from iTracks saying that they do and I have no reason to dispute it.) There is no doubt an opportunity to get more engagement and insight from people who have agreed to be a part of your panel. Or at least to better understand my preferences as a panelist, but instead I just get requests to take a survey… and requests… and requests… 120 in all from one company in a week. 120!

As an industry, the market research community often talks about panelist and data quality. Every company has rules for how many responses they will take from a panelist, but clearly the rules do not apply with invitations. The ramifications for market research as a brand are huge. By inviting me to irrelevant surveys I am less likely to respond that those are relevant. I am less likely to feel good about my involvement in research on the whole. And I am less likely (as a business person) to trust the data I am getting. It’s a simple issue that needs to be addressed.

And until then I have 120 surveys to complete so I can get some points I’ll never redeem.

(The conference was great by the way, read a summary here)


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