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How a Community Panel differs from an Excel sheet

Charles Pearson
LDN - 09 Feb 2015
Charles Pearson
How a Community Panel differs from an Excel sheet

As SVP Client Development for Verve in North America, I spend the bulk of my time pursuing new clients in that region (and overseeing the relationship once these new clients come on board). Through this process, I have encountered several different client situations regarding their potential use of Community Panels for research that lead to our having further discussions.

For some companies, they have considered a Community Panel but have not yet progressed due to budget constraints or other issues. For other companies, they claim to have one and call it a "panel" but acknowledge that it is really just an excel sheet containing the contact details for those who have agreed to be contacted for research. And finally for other companies, they have been managing it themselves and are realizing that the nuts and bolts of managing the panel in-house is not a great use of their time.

Community panel diagram

Recently, I was asked by one of those companies, who has a "panel" with the excel sheet approach, to tell them what the advantages would be if Verve were to build and manage a Community Panel for them. In response, I outlined the following advantages and am now thinking that this information might be useful to other companies who are in a similar situation:

  • Size and scale – our Community Panel approach and platform easily enables panels containing many thousands or even tens of thousands of members, this means more targeted research opportunities that can be conducted with ease, as well the ability to utilize but not over utilize your panel members. This does not preclude the opportunity to also easily create sub-panels or smaller digital communities for specific qualitative projects, as needed.
  • Deep profiling – our Community Panel approach can contain an unlimited number of profile measures that we would collect, store and utilize including maintaining all research data points, so that all of the information can be used to provide better research and deeper insights either through more targeted research and/or enhancing the analysis.
  • Transactional data integration – Verve can append, store and utilize transactional data alongside attitudinal and self-reported, to provide a more complete and holistic picture of each panel member, thereby providing even more targeted research opportunities and insights.
  • Higher response rates and improved engagement – when your panel is professionally managed by Verve as a Community Panel, with a highly professional website that provides relevant and updated content including sharing back of results and opportunities to participate through forum discussions and quick polls, you can expect higher response rates. Also, Verve would ensure that every research project – quant or qual – can be accessed and easily completed on the panel member's mobile devices.
  • Lower attrition – when your panel members have a great experience always with the Community Panel, they stay on it longer as they are obtaining value from the experience and being treated with the respect they require, this also means deeper insights as we have a much longer and more continuous history of learning and understanding of each panel member.
  • Platform for giving back to members – the ease with which we can share new and “exclusive” information, or the results or how the insights are being used, is much greater with a Verve managed Community Panel. Our approach also provides cost savings on incentives, since panel members are motivated to participate for reasons other than being paid.
  • Can include both customers and target customers – we can design and position your panel to accommodate and attract both customers and non-customers, if desired, and can source those non-customers for you. This approach would extend your ability to provide insights to your stakeholders by being able to identify the best ways in which to attract new customers through products, services, features, communication, etc., all of which can be evaluated and tested through your Community Panel.
  • Enables your team to focus on what they do best – (defining research objectives, analysis and reporting to stakeholders) – your team’s time is better spent on interacting with stakeholders, responding to their questions, developing research objectives, and interpreting/delivering those results (although Verve can contribute greatly to this). You could then rely on Verve to build and manage your Community Panel on-going, as well as the nuts and bolts of fielding and project managing your research (and analysis/written reports, as desired).
  • Outside and highly experienced perspective for further and differentiated insights – the Verve research team assigned to your account would be available at any time to handle the development of the research approach/questionnaire/discussion guide as well as the analysis/report writing and delivery to you and your stakeholders, if desired. This can help ensure that you are obtaining the benefit of another perspective, from those who will know your business over time but are not influenced by having worked there and can take a fresh look at finding the right answer and delivering accurate and unbiased insights. Verve’s team also have a wealth of experience with other clients in your as well as other sectors, all of which can help as we advise on research approaches and derive insights.