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Where Do Survey Respondents Come From?

Posted by Frank Kelly on Sep 14, 2012

A version of this post appeared on research-live.com on August 31, 2012

Recruiting online survey respondents has changed a lot over the past 10 years. Rising demand, along with the growth of social media, large web publishers and advertising networks have transformed what was a local, country-specific endeavor into a global business enterprise.

Today there are a number of sources for respondents. Before we discuss them in detail, it’s important to note that there are different kinds of respondents. Panelists, such as those on Lightspeed Research’s MySurvey and GMI’s GlobalTestMarket panels, are respondents who are double opted-in and deeply profiled. Panels provide a high level of data quality, which is required by many market research studies. Because these respondents are very valuable, they are also the most expensive to recruit. Dynamically sourced respondents, on the other hand, are less expensive to recruit because less is known about them and less is required of them. However, they can be extremely useful in market research studies when used appropriately.

With those distinctions in mind and without further adieu, the most widely used sources for survey respondents are:

Affiliate Networks. The recruitment market is made up of buyers and sellers and a variety of middlemen called affiliate marketers that act as wholesalers. The sellers have one objective: to maximize the value of their web traffic. The most prevalent source of respondents is affiliate networks that broker web traffic sourced from a range of small to medium-sized websites (publishers). These networks source web traffic from the site owners and monetize it in a variety of ways. Some affiliate networks specialize in serving the needs of the market research industry. Affiliate networks can identify web traffic sources that are good at delivering panel recruits, as well as those that do better at delivering one-off or dynamically sourced respondents. Most affiliates will sell either way, although their clear preference is to sell dynamically-sourced respondents because they offer higher, more predictable conversion rates.

Social Media. Social media has had a profound impact on recruitment. Often, dynamically-sourced respondents come from social media or gaming sites that provide incentives via site-specific currencies, like Facebook Credits, for example. The respondents are not motivated to join a panel but rather to continue playing a game. They are willing to complete a survey only as a means to that end. Social media provides an increasing number of younger respondents – a demographic that is difficult to get to join a panel at a good price. In addition, respondents from social media sites often give permission for panel and research companies to access their personal data. This derived data can be provided to research companies to help them more efficiently place respondents in surveys.

SEM & SEO. Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) recruitment campaigns are widely used methods to drive traffic to a recruitment site. For example, Google sells advertising space on the right hand column of its search results for ads that appear when someone searches for “paid surveys.” Similarly, online marketers can use a number of tricks to ensure that they appear at the top of the listings when search results are shown.

Co-Registration. Panel recruits are normally double opt-in. This means they express interest in joining and then must return a confirming email to register. Co-registration recruitment is an approach where single opt-in leads are delivered to the panel company, which attempts to convert them to double opt-in status.

Viral or Organic Recruitment. This is probably the most cost-effective recruitment source for established research fieldwork providers. This recruiting method encourages existing members, usually via incentives, to solicit friends and family to join.

Direct Marketing. Direct marketing lists are on the decline as a recruitment source because they have all been overused. However, companies that constantly refresh their lists can prove productive, especially for geographically or demographically targeted recruitment.

Offline to online. This is still useful in selected markets where internet penetration is low. When telephone surveys start to decline in a market, often the owners of the call centers can generate some good online recruits at the back end of telephone interviews. Consumers who have shown a willingness to do surveys typically make good panel members.

Whichever method of recruitment is used, it is essential that the process be carefully managed. Recruitment campaigns and methods must be constantly evaluated, tested and changed. Sample buyers should be confident that their supplier has the expertise to navigate this complex marketplace and ensure the best sample is readily accessible.

GMI, a Lightspeed Research company, is a pioneer and leader in building high quality sample from a variety of respondent sources. To learn more about sample sourcing, visit GMI’s website.

- See more at: http://www.ls-gmi.com/panel-management/where-do-survey-respondents-come-from/#sthash.6NhCZmId.dpuf

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