Panel Vetting: The Online Dating of the Market Research World—#TBT Edition

Is this person the right fit? Do they have what you’re looking for? Can they make the commitment? No, I’m not asking you to evaluate your date last night: I’m asking you to evaluate an online market research respondent.

The process of panel vetting is basically the market researcher’s equivalent of online dating. Whether you and your audience have hit a rut, or you just want to explore new opportunities, there’s a lot of crossover between the two approaches. When dating online, there are steps you can take to increase your odds of finding the best match—one you will be happy with for a long time. The same can be said of the panel vetting process, which we take just as seriously as those willing to open their hearts to strangers on the Internet. With that, here is the process that we go through to find and vet new panel providers; heck, maybe the same process can help you find true love!

Identify New Audience Needs

Your needs aren’t being met. Maybe your current relationship has grown stale and it is just time for a change, or perhaps you are simply considering a backup plan. Whatever the reason, the first step is deciding to take action.

Research All Options and Determine the Best Fit

Now’s the time for the crucial questions that will guide your search. What type of people are you looking for? What qualities do they possess? Where do they live and how do you reach them? Your rating criteria should be two-fold, rating both the provider and the actual participants. Items like responsiveness, quality, customer service, costs, and communication are hugely important.

Introduce Yourself

Who are you looking to meet? How are you similar to others in the market? What makes you different? Are you easy to get along with, or do you have certain eccentricities that those under consideration should be aware of? Honesty is truly the best policy here; you need to set proper expectations right out of the gate.

Swipe Right or Left

By this point, you’re likely able to properly define the person/people you are looking for. Furthermore, you can determine if the avenue you have chosen will get you to your goal; now it is time to test it out.

Conduct Tests and Monitor Results

Panel providers and participants themselves can make outlandish claims that should be taken with a grain or two of salt. It is up to you to look out for your best interests, and decide for yourself whether these claims true. Are these companies keeping up their end of the bargain? Are the participants really who they say they are? In the online world, it is easy to pretend you are somebody that you are not; nobody wants to get catfished.

Complete Tests and Review Areas of Strengths/Weaknesses and Next Steps

You have run your tests, and now it’s time to make your decision. Do you move forward with this service? Did the available prospects match your expectations? Could this be—gasp—the one? If indeed you have found a good fit, perhaps it is time to take the next step, and try to catch the proverbial lightning in a bottle.

If Moving Forward, Set Expectations for the Future and Proceed

Congrats on finding a match! Now it’s time to focus on what you hope to achieve moving forward. What are your relationship goals? Any red flags or deal-breakers? It’s best to address these crucial items early on. To create a lasting relationship, it must be amicable on both sides. In other words, a high level of trust must be achieved; both parties must be on the same page and willing to give it their all. This is the only way to attain any semblance of a successful relationship.

A properly vetted research panel can be the difference between a successful research project and one doomed to fail from the beginning. Identifying and finding your target audience is how you ensure that you receive feedback from the right people on the right concepts at the right time. For an example of how a product marketing team used feedback from their targeted audience to inform design and development early—and gain an entire phase of development back—take a look at the case study below.

Download Case Study