Online panel research

Merry Baskin

Merry Baskin explains how to avoid the potential pitfalls of online research and optimise the consistency and reliability of results.

The digital revolution has transformed the market research industry. About 90% of surveys in the UK now take place online.

It's not just panels. Marketers are using social networks as research channels. Anybody can log on to Surveymonkey. com and devise a survey, or post a question in a chatroom and get some feedback. The digital research free-for-all of direct customer contact and overnight reports has obvious benefits, but it also presents dangers. Being well-informed will forearm you against any nasty backfiring.

First off, there are plenty of reasons to embrace online research. It is cheaper and the results come back much faster than most other methodologies. Analysis is simultaneous. It's very convenient – you don't even have to leave your home, let alone the office. Thanks to Facebook, people are opening up their homes and families to the social web, free and for all to see.