Panel Management Explained

A panel is a group of people with relevant backgrounds who agree to participate in surveys. Businesses can organize a panel for each group of key stakeholders: customers, employees, resellers, partners, prospects, etc.

Because panelists agree in advance to participate in surveys and feedback efforts, they become almost a guaranteed source of information for the sponsoring organization. Customers typically participate in the panel because they value their relationship with the sponsor, and they appreciate the additional information, influence and early access that comes from participating in the panel. For general market panels, panelists instead often look to merchandise and cash rewards, though even for many general panels people participate because they want to make their views heard.

How does a panel work? You invite an individual to participate in a panel and communicate the ground rules:

  • What they will be surveyed about
  • How you'll use the information
  • How frequently they'll be asked to participate in surveys
  • Why it's important that they participate
  • How they can opt-out if they change their mind
  • What's in it for them

Once you gain their permission, you invite the panelist to complete a registration survey, which will gather detailed demographic or firmographic information. This information can be used to target individual surveys to panel subsegments and also provides for rich opportunities in cross-tabulating survey results.

In contrast to online communities, in a panel, members communicate only with the sponsoring researcher, through the medium of the surveys they are sent. In online communities, members can engage in discussions with one another through an online portal.

Want to learn how to set up your own customer panel? Download a complimentary copy of my white paper, Customers as Confidants: Customer Panel Management Made Easy.

by Jeffrey Henning -

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