The Decline of Email and the Impact on Online Survey Respondent Availability

ZoomPanel Facebook application There are two groups we always consider when evaluating decisions related to the management of our online panel – our customers and our survey respondents.  Keeping both of these groups engaged and happy with the quality of their experience is essential to the success of our business.  
One of the most important ways to keep survey respondents engaged is to make survey invitations available on the channels where they are already most active online.  And since the only constant variable online is change, it’s vital to keep pace with the new ways consumers prefer being communicated to online.

Historically, email has been the most important channel to solicit respondents to take online surveys, with most panelists tending to provide a webmail address as their primary contact.  However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to engage with panelists solely via email invitations – not surprising because webmail usage is on the decline, specifically with younger and male demographics. So, the medium through which online panel companies rely on the most to reach respondents with survey invitations is less effective than ever at reaching respondents – particularly those who are hard to reach anyway.  Over the long term, we need to understand that email will become a secondary communications channel.

In response to the shift in panelists’ online behavior, survey-taking opportunities should adapt to the wide array of channels where people spend their time online.   Following are two unique channels that ZoomPanel is leveraging to stay in front of our targeted consumers:

  • Social Networks – As consumers continue to establish social networks as a primary online destination, so too do online survey respondents.  They are looking for survey-taking opportunities directly within the social networks where they increasingly spend their time – whether they have joined a panel or not.  There are two key ways that ZoomPanel engages with respondents through social networks: by presenting individuals with the survey-taking opportunities they seek via a social network application, and by building relationships between respondents who have joined a panel and the panel company.  Our ZoomPanel Facebook application (seen in the screenshot above) provides the entire respondent experience within Facebook – survey invites, profile opportunities, and the rewards center.  In addition, we engage with panelists directly through our ZoomPanel Facebook fan page, and provide the opportunity for panelists to connect with one another.  
  • Browser toolbars – The web browser remains the most common window through which consumers view content on the internet.  So in addition to following consumers across all the online destinations they seek within the browser – email, social networks, search, etc. – another approach to staying in front of consumers is to present an online experience directly within a browser toolbar.  There are actually thousands of types of toolbars that can be downloaded and added to a browser.  We’ve created a ZoomPanel toolbar (see below) that, much like our Facebook application, provides survey invites and profile opportunities within the web browser itself.


ZoomPanel Toolbar


These are just two methods we’ve implemented to stay in front of survey respondents and keep them engaged in taking surveys in the face of declining email usage by consumers.  Mobile is the next frontier, and our company, along with many others in the market research industry, is working hard to develop the right strategy to remain in front of respondents in the channels where they are spending their most time online.  More on that in a future post!
 


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