Customer Research Best practices

How to choose the perfect panel management software tool

August 13, 2022
7 min
How to choose the perfect panel management software tool

Everyone that works in ReOps knows the complexity of research recruitment. Matching contacts to user profiles, scheduling interviews, orchestrating incentive programs, etc. It’s even worse when you’re running multiple research projects simultaneously.

You need a tool (preferably a panel management tool) to help you do all of the above to make your research easier. But you already know this. You’ve looked at all the online panel management software products, and you’re still unsure where to start.

Panel management software is much more than managing your customer panel. It’s the foundation of your research recruitment. But it can be hard to find the right tool for you. We’ve put together this article to help you choose the perfect panel management platform for your next round of customer research.

Key features of a panel management solution 

Choosing your panel management tool is essential to your user research recruitment process. If you don’t have the right tool, you won’t be able to track duplicates or know whether you’ve sent email invitations to your research panelists. This leads to over contacting, a biased sample set, and even worse, customers who won’t participate in research.

Here are five features you need to manage a research panel successfully:

Integrations

Chances are you already use a bunch of tools to do research, you might have your customer contacts stored on your CRM software. So you want to be able to get these contacts easily uploaded into your panel management tool. You need to ensure that your panel management tool easily integrates with your existing tool stack and that it’s easy to bring your data over from other tools. It could be as easy as being able to import via an integration to a platform like Salesforce, importing a .csv or using Zapier to bring in data, but you don’t want to be accountable to a support team just to move your customer data from one system to another. 

After bringing data over from other tools, it’s also important that your panel management platform also integrates with a tool that enables you to host your interviews or surveys. Whether you use Zoom or Microsoft teams, your panel tool should readily offer this integration. No one in ReOps has enough spare time to send Zoom meeting invitations to each research panel member manually.

Even if your panel management tool doesn’t integrate with all your current research tools, you should be able to integrate with Zapier. With Great Question, you can integrate your existing tools into our platform with Zaps.

Customizations

There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to research recruitment. So your panel management tool must have customization features. You might not want a participant to participate in a research project more than two times over a six-month period. So you need to be able to set custom eligibility requirements for contacting your respondents.

You also need to ensure that your tool has customization features that enable you to recruit a diverse pool of participants. After pooling and building rich profiles of your customer panel from your screener surveys, you want to be able to set custom filters to shortlist candidates.

 

Personalization

Branded research recruitment pages

When asking participants to join your focus group, you don’t want to send generic emails for your research survey requests or unbranded brand assets. You need a tool that will give you the ability to customize communications.

With Great Question, you can create branded landing pages in minutes for your whole panel or a specific study. You can also share your newly created branded landing page on social media to get more participants. Also, you can send custom emails to your participants. Customizing emails and adding personalization touches may also increase your response rate.

 

Automation 

Any panel management software solution you choose should offer you the ability to streamline your recruitment workflow with automated features. From two-click scheduling to automatically created landing pages, there are a few key automations any panel management tool needs:

  • Tracking candidate status: See what customers you’ve invited, who’s scheduled, who didn’t show, who completed, and who received their incentive all in one screen—no more spreadsheets with multiple status columns.  
  • One-click invite: Once you filter through your entire candidate database and find the perfect list, you can send off branded emails with just one click. 
  • Batch scheduling emails: Don’t get overbooked and waste your customers' time by inviting everyone all at once. If you just need five respondents, send invites in batches to ensure you ask for feedback from just the right people, saving potential customers for future studies. 
  • Screen to schedule: Screeners are a great way to ensure you are talking to the right candidate BEFORE you schedule an interview. But, validating a survey response and THEN sending a calendar invite just adds a step in the process. Look for a tool that lets you set up automatic calendar invites for folks that fit your “perfect candidate” criteria. 
  • Incentive delivery: After conducting your user interviews, you should automatically be able to send panelists their globally accepted research incentives and track the progress of their incentives. Including one-click incentive re-issuance, so everyone feels valued. 

Centralization

Okay, so you’ve conducted some successful interviews and handed out your incentives. Now, where do you keep all your research files? You can decide to store your research files on your desktop in individual files, but what if you need to search for something or send a file to a colleague?

What do you do when you want to cross-reference or double-check the participants in your previous study, so you don’t include them in a future study? Ideally, your panel tool should have a centralized place where you can find all this information. You need to be able to store all your research findings, re-watch your interviews and view previous communications that have been sent out to users.

Every panel tool should have a research repository where you can find all information relating to your research. With Great Question’s research repository, you can create custom tags to organize your research findings and highlight keywords and insights.

Collaboration

You know how the popular saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work. The same applies to customer research. Even if you’re a research team of 1, you’ll still have to collaborate and share your findings with your colleagues or stakeholders. That’s why choosing a tool with collaborative features is essential.

You need to consider a tool that can easily share your research insights with your team. For instance, interactive dashboards where you and other team members can see the number of interviews scheduled for a particular week. Or the ability to share URL links to research interviews with colleagues.

You also want to ensure that your panel tool allows you to add researcher and viewer seats under one plan, so you all have access to the same research data.

Shortlisting: this is great for big teams that want to share a list of potential candidates BEFORE sending an invite. You can build the list, send the shortlist to a colleague, and get their approval. 

Factors to consider when choosing your panel management tool

Now that you know what features your panel tool should have let’s talk about the factors you should consider when choosing your tool. You can find a tool that ticks all the boxes and has all the above features, but what if it costs $35,000 a year and isn’t easy to use? Here are four factors you should consider.

Pricing

Any tool you pick must be compatible with your research needs and your finance department. Pricing is the top factor when choosing which tool to go for. After all, you want to ensure you get value for your money. But when looking at the figures, don’t automatically just go with the cheapest option available. Weigh up what features you need and how they fit your budget.

Great Question offers a wide range of plans with varying features. You can check out our pricing page here.

Data security

Data security and compliance are paramount to ReOps. The last thing any organization wants is to get in trouble by unknowingly violating data and privacy laws. Every panel management tool on the market will comply with basic data security regulations such as GDPR. Still, very few panel tools go the extra mile with enhanced data security. With SOC 2 Type 2 Compliance, you can rest assured that your PII data is safe and secure with Great Question.

Ease of use

You need a platform that is easy to use and navigate around and works across all browser types and operating systems. You don’t want a tool that requires specific plug-ins to work. It’s always a good idea to try before you buy. See if you can request a demo before you commit to using any tool, this will give you a good indication of whether the tool is easy to use.

It’s always a good idea to try before you buy. See if the tool you’re interested in offers a free trial. That’s the only way you’ll be able to tell if the tool is easy to use or not. Also, get your team members to sign up for a trial and get their opinion.

Great participant experience

Lastly, you want your customers to feel valued and respected throughout the research process. Don’t bother them with irrelevant research requests (which you can avoid with the right filtering). Make sure they aren’t over-contacted with batch sending & eligibility settings. Make it easy for them to signup and get their research incentives with speedy/automatic responses and find a solution that keeps their data secure. 

A great panel management tool will lead to better research

Your decision to choose the perfect tool shouldn’t be taken lightly, there’s a lot to weigh up and consider. Take some time to consider your options. The right tool will lead you to do better research that is easier and faster and save you money. But you won’t make a mistake by choosing Great Question. Come and chat with us so that we can tell you more about our panel management solution.

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