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All you need to know about Panel Surveys


Table of Contents

What is a panel survey?

A panel survey can be defined as a longitudinal study used for measuring the behavior of your target audience over time, such as their emotions, thoughts, and feelings. The respondents of your survey can be customers, employees, voters, patients, or anyone who can give valuable insights.

A similar target audience gets surveyed across different touchpoints in their journey for understanding how their behavior and attitude keeps on changing. There are various methods used for data collection like online surveys, questionnaires, interviews, or even barcode scanning. 

By following a quantitative approach, the panel survey helps to gauge numerical data whereas, through a qualitative methodology, it can gather subjective information such as thoughts & perceptions. So, the approach of a panel survey is mainly based on the nature of a specific study and the expected results.

There’s often confusion between “panel surveys” and “survey panels” among most people. While “panel survey” is nothing but a type of survey that is conducted by brands, a “survey panel” is defined as a group of people that are collaborated to openly share their feedback.

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Why do panel surveys matter?

Panel surveys play a pivotal role in determining the changing consumer attitudes over time, towards the products, services, or even a brand.

Organizations can use panel studies for understanding their managerial performance, the reaction to newly introduced policies, or even elevating their employee engagement. Likewise, panel surveys are preferred by news media outlets for collecting data related to elections or public policies.

Panel surveys help to track the changes in respondents’ behavior by conducting similar kinds of surveys numerous times over a period of weeks, months, or even years. Panel surveys can help to gain more valuable information as compared to a survey that is conducted at one particular point in time.

How does a panel survey work?

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It initiates with people that sign up with a company in order to willingly participate in their survey. These survey respondents agree to share their demographic data which is further used in every study. There’s a survey panelist in a large group that helps to showcase a huge range of demographics like age, social backgrounds, interests, employment, marital status, income levels, etc. that are crucial to the researchers. 

In today’s competitive environment, every company wants to tap into the minds of its target audience. Be it a consumer products firm, a market research company, a news media organization, or even a government agency, everyone wants to know what’s going in the minds of their survey respondents. 

Based on the respondents’ behavior and insights, it becomes easy to estimate which product or service is likely to enter the market. Moreover, it also affects the type of procedures as well as policies that companies should create for streamlining their operations and boosting the overall performance. 

While conducting a panel survey, the target audience gets surveyed various times. Every single set of surveys is referred to as a wave. So, a panel study is known to have multiple waves where a similar type of questions are asked to every panel member for delving deeper into their behavior and the changes in it. For example, a 4 wave panel study is basically a panel survey conducted at 4 different times.

In case your panel survey involves focus groups or one-on-one surveys, there will be a need to collaborate with some market research firm for discovering the right set of people who align with your desired target audience profile as well as demographics. Thus, it can be time-consuming as recruiting the audience and conducting the survey might take some time. On choosing an online panel survey, there will be a specific provider who will be responsible for administering your survey.

Many companies prefer using an online survey for collecting actionable information from their intended audience nowadays. With online surveys, it becomes easy to conduct multiple waves across different touchpoints. Here’s what you need to keep in mind while conducting online surveys:

Select demographic data wisely

Consider the characteristics that are ideal for your survey panelists. See if you want to survey customers, employees, patients, or some other group? Select the right demographics that fit well for your panel survey.

Prioritize your survey panel 

Is your survey urgent? There are certain survey providers and market research companies that enable you to mark your survey as a high priority for reaching out to survey panelists quickly.

Notify the panelists 

When a survey is all set to go, an email is sent to the panelists through which they can get started by clicking the link. Once it reaches sufficient target respondents, the specific online survey company restricts further panelists from joining. 

Survey participation 

Depending on your intended target audience, respondents participate in your survey. 

Close your survey

After enough panelists successfully complete your survey, it’s time for survey closure. This helps to prevent your desired results from the impact of additional data. 

Gain a detailed report  

Once the survey gets finished, you’ll receive a detailed report comprising all information that could help to understand your respondent’s mind. With panel surveys, you can easily compare and contrast these reports over time. This lets you understand the changes in your audiences’ behavior! 

How to create an effective panel survey?

Panel surveys are specially created for uncovering the behavior of a particular set of people. A panel survey is mainly focused on certain variables like demographics and related patterns that have an impact on the respondent’s behavior.

For example, let us consider a survey of how many women prefer using a lip crayon vs. liquid lipstick. A company wants to gather this data because they want to improve an existing product, reposition their brand, or even sell a new product. 

In the mentioned example, the company aims to test the variables, such as the customer’s age and their usage, i.e. how often do they use the specific product. 

The respondents were asked a question, “How often do you prefer using the following makeup products: lip crayon and liquid lipstick?”

On the basis of the demographics, the panel survey was categorized as mentioned below:

Gender and location: 

  • Females
  • Live in the US 

Age range: 

  • 18 to 30
  • 31 to 50
  • 51 and older 

Type of preferred product: 

  • Lip Crayon
  • Liquid Lipstick 

Usage frequency: 

  • Daily
  • Alternate weekdays 
  • Once a week 
  • Once a fortnight 
  • Once a month
  • Once in 3 months 
  • Never

By leveraging this survey, it gets easy to gain valuable insights about how to quote the right price, how to position & sell the product in front of the customers who use lip crayons and liquid lipsticks. It represents which product is used by whom and how often is it used.  

Panel Survey Examples: A look inside

Panel surveys play a pivotal role in gaining insights into customer behavior, market research, business performance, and many other aspects. Here are some examples of frequently asked panel study questions: 

Example 1: To evaluate customer service

  • On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend our company to your friends, colleagues, or family members?
  • On a scale of 1-5, please rate your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with our company. 
  • Do you find our products effective enough to meet your needs? 
  • On a scale of 1-5, please rate the quality of our product. 
  • How helpful have we been to resolve your issues? 
  • Would you prefer to purchase our products in the future?

Example 2: To test product or service price 

  • Which among the following brands do you prefer to buy? 
  • How much money do you spend in this category? 
  • On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the money that you usually spend on this product category. 
  • Had the product been priced at $5.99, would you find it  
  • Had the product been priced at $9.99, would you find it 

Example 3: To evaluate employee performance and motivation 

  • While at work, I am fully focused on my job and the responsibilities given to me.
  • I put in full effort to deliver my best every day. 
  • I feel excited every morning about going to work.
  • I am fully involved in my work.
  • I feel happy to meet the defined goals at work.

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