How to create a customer research panel

Stephanie Knapp
September 8, 2021
How to create a customer research panel

If you want to eat healthier, you meal prep. When you’re trying to be more productive, you organize your to-do list and workspace.

Any time you aim to do something valuable but challenging, you take steps to set yourself up for success. So when you want to make UX research a routine part of your workflow, why not do the same?

Creating a user research panel puts you one step closer to valuable customer insights, and we’re going to teach you how to do it.

What is a user research panel?

A user or customer research panel is a group of customers you can contact to run UX research or interviews.

Rather than finding new research recruits every time you want to explore a hypothesis, you can choose participants from your list. Companies that want to integrate user insights into decision making should set up a user research panel to:

  • Reduce overhead usually associated with setting up customer interviews
  • Ensure you don’t talk to the same few customers over and over
  • Identify engaged customers who are most likely to offer valuable feedback

How to create a customer research panel

Setting up a customer research panel takes a bit of upfront work, but it saves you time in the long run. Here are the four steps to get started.

Step 1: Define your user personas

A user research panel should make your work easier, and filling it with just anybody won’t do the trick. Instead, think about what types of costumes you’ll want to speak to. Perhaps you know that a particular company size tends to have higher engagement with your product. Or you want to validate your idea within a niche.

Create a list of criteria your ideal user research panelist would have to match your goals. This could include:

Create a list of criteria your ideal user research panelist would have to match your goals. This could include:

  • Demographics
  • Product usage
  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Role

Then, create a screener survey to sort panelists automatically. Each person interested in being a part of your panel will answer questions that identify them within your persona, so you only save information for the users you’re interested in speaking to.

If you need help filtering participants, check out our guide to writing great screener surveys.

Step 2: Create a recruitment form

Next, you need a way to gather information from interested customers. Your recruitment form has two components—information about the panel and a palace to enter contact and research consent information.

Your panel “pitch” needs to let people know your objective is research, not trying to make a sale. Include information on why you’re setting up a panel, what research activities to expect, and how you’ll use what you learn.

To collect participant information, you can use a form tool like Google Forms, Squarespace, or Typeform. Alternatively, Great Question lets you manage recruitment pages, participant information, and interviews from a single dashboard.

Step 3: Reach out to users

Your recruitment documents are live, and it’s time to go forth and find participants. Promoting your research panel and actively recruiting will give you an initial burst of participants. Share your pitch page to current customers and followers, post in online communities, or reach out to people directly.

Moving forward, you can set up a permanent place for your research panel recruitment. For example, you could include a CTA on a website popup or at the bottom of emails to continuously promote the opportunity.

Here at Great Question, each new user has the opportunity to opt into research when they create an account.

Great Question sign up page with research panel opt-in option
Every Great Question user can opt into research.

Step 4: Manage your database

Once you’ve created a user research panel, it’s time to use it (wisely). Set up a way to track when you contact and interview each person to avoid burning out participants. Contact them too often about the same topics, and you will quickly find folks getting sick of you.

Managing your database can be as simple as updating and referencing a Google Sheet. Alternatively, Great Question was built to do this and can speed up your workflow.

It’s also vital to manage consent. If a person wants to opt out of the panel, they need a way to do that at any time, and you need to respect it.

Great Question puts research panels on autopilot

Great Question makes continuous customer research as easy as possible. Our built-in customer research panel tools let you create beautiful recruitment pages that you can send to your customers or leverage our recruitment tools.

Once you've created your customer research panel, you can easily sort panelists and quickly see when you last contacted them. Send invites, schedule interviews, and record and transcribe discussions all in one place, too. Get started with Great Question today.

Looking for something more in-depth? Check out our complete guide to research panel management.

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