Be Cognizant of Panel Providers for Surveys

In the fourth quarter of 2022, the law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman wanted to survey middle-market private equity investors. To help the firm do so, it engaged a “leading global third-party panel provider platform.” The brief methodology section in the report does not disclose the name of the panel provider or how it found 100 U.S. based respondents. Meanwhile, what is a panel provider (aka research panel) and what do they offer survey sponsors?

A panel provider maintains large rolls of people who have given information about themselves and agreed to take surveys on an ongoing basis. Dozens of providers offer panels, including CatalystMR, Innovate, and SurveyMonkey, and the many more listed on I do not know whether any panels are available of legal industry members.

The Qualtrics website offers five benefits of using a research panel vs recruiting respondents ad hoc:

  1. You can use them multiple times. Panels can take the same survey again at different intervals, giving you a way to track trends and changes with like-for-like comparisons.
  2. You develop In-depth knowledge. You grow a deeper understanding of panel members through their continuing involvement in your research.
  3. They can be multi-purpose. A panel could also take part in other forms of research, such as focus groups and interviews.
  4. Surveying them is quicker and easier. You save the time you would have spent in finding people to take part, collecting their contact information, and chasing down those who haven’t gotten around to taking your survey.
  5. They’re more reliable. Panelists are likely to provide considered and accurate answers because they’re more committed and involved than people who have been recruited on a one-off basis.

Panel providers complement their hosting software with their pre-arranged, cultivated groups of respondents. They do more than just deliver respondents. They’ll be on hand if you want them to:

• Support you with designing your survey,

• Run the project,

• Script (program) the questions you create for the hosting software,

• Conduct computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI),

• Build custom panels or manage long-term private panels,

• Recruit panel members and gather firmographic profiles (what demographics are to people, firmographics are to organizations),

• Cull and select respondents with pre-profiled targeting options or custom screening questions,

• Reach huge participant pools – SurveyMonkey claims access to 80 million consumers in over 100 countries. This vast group may be mostly irrelevant for legal industry sponsors as they rarely reach out to consumer participants. A business-to-business panel provider would be an option for sponsors in the legal industry.