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3 Tips to Build an Effective Online Survey Panel

Mathew Maniyamkott

19 September 2023

5 min read

In the words of Dan Zarrella, marketing without market research is like driving with your eyes closed. If we take that analogy further, developing and marketing a product without customer feedback is like driving with your eyes closed down a dark tunnel, with no idea what’s on the other side. That’s why an online survey panel is the solution here.

This article will talk about panel research and how to build an effective online survey panel.

How to build an effective online survey panel

Use these three stellar tips to build your online survey panel:

#1. Have clear expectations from the online survey panel

First and foremost, your research objective should be well-defined and transparent. Then, you will have to choose the relevant audience and have a set expectation from your online panel. For example:

  • Does it measure users’ behavioral patterns and attitudes?
  • Should the respondents be experts in your niche or have a general idea about business?
  • Are you planning to build a community for a particular business purpose?
  • Is the data collection immediate or at intervals?

#2. Narrow down the expertise of your panel members

While the panel provider does this, here are a few steps you can follow if you’re planning to create a survey panel yourself.

  • If you already have a contact database, you can recruit via email or text message. If you don’t, you can ask people to opt in via social media, apps, or your landing pages.
  • When someone opts in, trigger a survey to gather data about their profile. It will help you build a database of demographic details.
  • With this database, you can choose research panelists based on their ability, interest, and expertise in the subject.
  • After you select your panelists, you can send them a welcome email explaining why you chose them and the benefits they’re eligible for.
  • Give them a clear idea of what you expect from them, how their responses will help your organization, and when you will be contacting them.

Did you know that you can make all these aspects easier with automation? For example, you can automate every step of your research with SurveySparrow’s online survey software, from recruitment surveys to emails and reports.

#3. Keep expanding the panel member count

Here are the reasons why:

  • Sometimes, you might not get many responses from your existing research panel.
  • What’s more, as your business matures, it becomes necessary to recruit more panelists to reflect your expanding audience.
  • Your panel members may not respond equally. Some may drop out after the initial enthusiasm. Others may join the panel, but they won’t complete any surveys, while some are there only for the incentives. That’s why you have to update your survey panel periodically.

online panel survey infographic: steps to create a credible panel

How do survey panels work?

A panel study is a marketing research method where businesses collect data repeatedly from a selected group of people.

Thus, the purpose of panel research is to provide you with a pre-screened custom audience for feedback on your products or services. Although many assume that survey panels and focus groups are the same, there is a slight difference. The latter’s size is restricted to 5-10 participants, while the former has a larger sample size.

By implementing panel services, companies can get accurate insights for just the beta products or throughout the entire product lifecycle. In addition, qualified panelists generally get incentives for their participation.

Online survey panel for research

What is the purpose of a panel study?

Let’s take the case of 3D TVs (not the ones sold now).

The TV manufacturers assumed everyone would love them based on the success of ‘Avatar’. But it turned out to be a colossal dud. It is why extensive market research with effective market research software is essential.

Also, another point to note is that you will make incremental changes to products over time due to feedback from the customer. A panel study is the quickest way to test these changes before they hit the market.

What is an online survey panel?

An online panel is a pre-screened online group that accurately represents your target group. These panel members can be drawn from various locations to participate in research studies. An online panel is used for many research studies like online surveys, mystery shopping, concept testing, and more.

Online panels, like SurveySparrow’s Audience Panels, profile each panel member before we can accept them for your study. We collect detailed demographic and background information to ensure that you have relevant data on the table for effective decisions.

A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience

Advantages of online survey panels

There are multiple advantages for a company that has a readily available group of panelists for data collection. The advantages include:

Quick turnaround on fieldwork

Data is collected online and almost instantly. Thanks to online survey software, you can process and analyze that data almost instantly as well.

Cost savings on panel studies

Compared to other methods like phone calls, online survey panels are a cost-effective solution as the provider conducts recruitment and profiling, along with appropriate incentives. A B2B panel usually costs more for the expertise and higher compensation compared to a consumer panel.

Geographic Diversity

Online survey panels often comprise respondents from different regions or countries. This allows you to gather a diverse set of opinions and ensures a more comprehensive understanding of market conditions across various geographies.

Reduced Researcher Bias

Since the surveys are administered online and standardized for all respondents, there’s less chance for researcher bias to creep in. This ensures that the results you gather are more objective and reliable.


Survey instruments can be quickly updated or modified based on ongoing feedback. If you spot an issue with a particular question or need to add more information, online panels allow for rapid adjustments without disrupting the entire survey process.

Higher participation rates

Panel members get incentives for their feedback which helps boost the participation rates. What’s more, panel members are people who have opted in to taking your surveys. So they will be more interested in your survey than the average respondent.

panel research members

Constructive feedback on your features:

A dedicated panel is a boon for the product development cycle. That’s because they are involved in your product from the beginning. In addition, their user experience from previous stages helps them to give more insightful feedback.

Measurable changes in perception:

An online panel will provide you with a realistic, long-term view of your business. For example, by periodically using Voice of Customer surveys, you can measure the changes in user perception. Tools like SurveySparrow’s NPS will help you gauge overall satisfaction and enable you to drill down to the root of a specific problem.

Rich ROI on online survey panels:

The best part about employing an online survey panel is that you get exceptional ROI due to the highly targeted and qualified respondents. What’s more, due to previous interactions and familiarity with your brand, the respondents are more willing to talk to you.

goal of panel research

Wrapping Up

This article describes the concept and purpose of survey panels, the definition of an online survey panel, its advantages, and tips for creating one.

Once you follow all the steps outlined, you have a good starting point for long-term market strategies. Good luck!

Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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