Selecting a Sample Provider? Watch Out for These 4 Things

Posted by Josh Giles on July 12, 2022
Josh Giles


This blog post is guest written by Josh Giles, Vice President of Supply at Op4G.

No one would ever try and argue that a face-to-face conversation isn’t the best way to learn something about someone. But when you work in the insights space, that’s not always practical. For starters, it’s expensive. It takes a lot of time – often more time than you have to spare before your deadline. And now, we live in a world where we need to think about the health and safety of our staff and our respondents.

So where does that leave us?

For nearly two decades, online market research has been one of the most cost-effective ways to gain insights in both the consumer and B2B space. And while we continue to see tremendous advances in technology and what’s capable online, perpetual questions still linger such as, “How do we know who we’re actually talking to?”

Data quality will always be the primary concern for all patrons of online research. As companies roll out new tech and expand capabilities, scammers have followed suit, keeping pace with new and creative ways to infiltrate panels and muddy your data. This is why it’s crucial for market research professionals to stay vigilant and engaged in the sample selection process.

Here are four important questions you should be asking yourself when choosing sample sources for your next study:

      1. Are these respondents double opted in?

Double opt-in (DOI) sources offer up a more engaged universe – simply put. That’s because members or subscribers are asked to confirm or validate their participation. Another way to put it: they’re asked if they really wanted to sign up. If the answer is yes, you can expect them to be more responsive, and more likely to click on that survey link.

If your target audience is very niche, you’ll likely need to move away from sourcing your respondents from a panel (see tip #3). But as long as you go the panel route, make sure you're getting DOI participants.


       2. Has anyone validated or verified the identities of these respondents?

There are lots of ways to make sure the person at the other end of the survey link is who they say they are. Some examples that panel companies will implement include collecting and verifying mailing addresses or uploading a valid, government-issued ID.

In the healthcare space, a true provider of medical professionals should be reconciling their database against the National Provider Identifier (NPI) registry. Every healthcare provider has their own NPI number. In the B2B space, several suppliers verify identity using LinkedIn profiles.


      3. Where did these respondents come from?

Depending on who you’re trying to reach, there are lots of creative ways to source respondents for a survey. Trade organizations, nonprofits, patient or various advocacy groups. The list goes on and on. But the wider the net you cast, the more likely you are to find some tin cans and license plates in your respondent pool.

What do we mean by this? Good question.

You’re not going to find CEOs reading social media message boards. You won’t see lawyers downloading a mobile gaming app and taking surveys for extra lives.

Sticking with the aquatic theme, the likelihood of finding a substantial number of people who fit a very niche criteria in ‘open water’ – and then convincing them to click on a strange link and take a survey they may never be compensated for – is extremely low.

Make sure you know where your suppliers are finding their recruits, and if you’re comfortable with how that aligns with your target audience.


       4. Is the project price tag commensurate with the target audience?

Have you ever gone to a fancy steakhouse and ordered the $9.99 lobster tail? No. You haven’t. That’s because you go to a restaurant like that expecting to pay top-tier prices for top-tier quality. And when you feel like spending $9.99 on dinner, you expect that whatever you eat won’t be lobster.

In all aspects of life, you get what you pay for.

The next time you’re setting the budget for your research study, ask yourself this: how valuable is the time of this particular respondent? And are we adequately compensating them for their time?

For example, we know that doctors are extremely well-compensated for their work. But they work incredibly hard and sacrifice countless hours due to the nature of their job. Twenty minutes of free time is likely much more valuable to them than whatever you can offer them to take a survey, so it's crucial to make it worth their while. 

Online research isn’t going anywhere; if anything its use has continued to increase during the last two years of the pandemic. But without careful selection of a sample provider, insights professionals could face issues including poorly written open-ends, contradictory answers, or even low response rates. By following the steps outlined above and remaining vigilant in the sample selection process, researchers can protect themselves against fraud and in turn obtain actionable, genuine insights. 

For more information on fraud prevention and data quality, contact our team.

Learn More about Op4G's Services. Click here.

Topics: Market Research Tips, Data Quality, Recruitment