What You Need to Know About How Sample Providers Manage their Panels

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What You Need to Know About How Sample Providers Manage their Panels

There is a perception within market research that all online sample panels are the same, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every sample panel is different and constantly changing. When it comes to selecting the panel you work with, there are numerous things you should know about how they manage their panel that can have an impact on the results your panelist provides.

There are a series of questions you need to ask any potential sample provider to better understand the data you will be getting from their respondents.  They fall into the following categories:


One key factor that differentiates panels and their respondents is how they recruit. It is important to note how their respondents are recruited, verified, profiled, and monitored. You will want to know what sources they use to recruit and what type of targeting is available.

Respondent Info

Another important factor to consider is the kind of information they have on their respondents and how much. Some things to consider are the type of profiling questions that are being asked and whether they include additional information from 3rd parties.


How a panel incentivizes their panelists is another factor that can impact the data you get from them. Whether a respondent is incentivized by an entry into a sweepstakes, gift cards to various retailers, or cash, it makes a difference. Be sure to compare to the average incentive and understand how the incentives are being provided and at what frequency.

Contacting Panelists

How panelists are contacted and the frequency at which they are contacted can also factor into the kind of panelists the sample provider has and the turnover that panel may experience. If you want to determine whether a panelist may have contact fatigue, consider if the frequency and method of contact seem reasonable.

Quality Control Measures

Any panel provider you consider should have quality control measures in place to combat any fraud or poor-quality respondents. You will want to know if they have a documented quality control measure in place or use a respondent scoring system. You may also want to note how they mitigate poor quality and if they communicate with respondents to help them improve.

Customer Service

The level of customer service that a panel provides may not impact the data you get but will impact how difficult it may be to work with them and could lead to frustration and problems while in field. It is important to know what their customer service looks like.

To get the full list of questions you should be asking your sample provider, download our new eBook, How Sample Providers Manage Their Panels: The 25 Things You Should Know.