Web Survey Software Panel Features
The most sophisticated web survey software lets you maintain panels of respondents you wish to be able to invite to take multiple surveys. The first ability you will need is the ability to add people to your panel. A good tool will let you import a list of people you have from some other source, such as a customer database.
The tool should also let you direct people to a Web page at which they can sign up to be part of your panel. The procedure for these people should be a double opt in process. A typical way this works is that people will enter their email address along with whatever other information you request and then submit that information to the site. The program then automatically sends an email to their address with a link they must click to confirm their wish to join the panel. This procedure serves two purposes. The first is to make sure you have a valid email address. The second is to prevent anyone from ever claiming they didn’t intend to join your panel. The program should check that any email address entered on the sign-up page is not already in the panel. You wouldn’t want the same person to be in your panel twice.
Your program should let the sign-up page ask people joining the panel some information about themselves. For example, their age, their gender and where they live. They can also ask about relevant product use and anything else you consider important.
Your tool should let people return to your site to update the information they originally provided and change any preferences. This sort of panelist portal needs the usual forgotten password feature to let people sign in, if they forgot theirs. Most panels award prizes to panelists based on their survey participation. One option should be to have a prize redemption link on the panelist portal page. The link should take them to a page where they can select what reward or rewards they would like. The program should let you assign points for completing particular surveys, and then the redemption page should be able to limit which prizes are available, based on a panelist’s currently available points.
Your software should let you select people to invite to take a particular project based on whatever criteria you need to apply. You should be able to use the information people entered on the sign-up page to limit those chosen for particular project. You should also be able to use past survey participation to limit whom is chosen. For example, a survey may be a follow-up to a previous survey, and you may only want to invite people who completed that previous survey. Conversely, you may wish to only select people for one survey who did not take one or more particular previous surveys.
You should also be able to specify what percentage of the sample for a particular project should have certain characteristics. For example, you may decide that the sample should include 53% men and 47% women and equal representation of three age groups.
Another way to limit whom should be included in a particular sample is how recently they completed a survey. You don’t want to inundate panelists with more surveys than they want to take. You should be able to say that a particular sample should not include someone who has taken a survey within X days. You should also be able to limit based on how many invitations were sent to individual panelists. The most sophisticated web survey software lets you ask people how often they wish to take surveys and use that information to decide whom to include in a particular sample. For example, Jack may say he would like to take a survey each week, while Jill only want to participate once a month. The program can then choose Jack and/or Jill based on their individual frequency preferences, rather than a general X days since the last survey.
The selection tool should also let you choose what, if any, of the information you have in the main panel database about individuals should be combined with their survey answers. This way you do not have to ask people the same questions over and over again. You may want different information attached to the data for different projects.