SampleCon 2022 | Enhancing the Respondent Experience

by Brad Franz

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the research industry’s only conference solely dedicated to data collection and sampling – fittingly named SampleCon. This conference brings together data collection’s leading providers and users to collaborate, share, and occasionally point fingers on topics affecting respondents’ access and their valuable insights.

Every year the attendee pool expands and diversifies, welcoming not just additional sampling providers but other integral players in the research industry, namely research agencies, direct buyers of sample, and end clients. As a direct buyer of sample and data collection resources, I wanted to share some insights from a buyer’s point of view that can immediately impact your research projects and enhance the respondent experience.

Demand transparency and build trust with your providers

Not all sources are created equal. The allocation of multiple, diverse sources is important when addressing feasibility and cost considerations. However, the wrong allocation could have a direct impact on a respondent’s attentiveness due to their motivation. Consider, for example, a respondent who was intercepted from a website offering a survey opportunity as an alternative to a traditional paywall. Their motivation is to return to the original site – the survey is a means to an end, and data could be impacted. Pay especially close attention to sourcing composition when designing longer or more complex projects. Talk freely and openly about sourcing with your providers so you can make informed decisions. Require full transparency from data collection sources and be cautious if they are hesitant to share details.

Become a champion for data quality

Data quality is everyone’s responsibility. Brands, Buyers, and Suppliers – we are all in this together. We are all responsible for the challenges and successes that will determine the future reliability of data collection. Providers care immensely about data quality, just as much as you do as a buyer, and most are working tirelessly to stay ahead of new fraud behavior. Help them by passing back data to help providers enhance their quality detection tools and weed out poor responders. This can be done via specialized redirects, general term reports, or respondent-level data sets depicting evidence for removing these respondents from your data set. Actively engage your providers to understand how you can better work together to help solve data quality challenges.

Ditch the term “Other”

Especially for demographic questions such as Gender, Race, and Ethnicity. Instead, use phrases such as “prefer to self-describe” or “prefer to self-identify” to be more inclusive to a broader pool of respondents. Additionally, these questions are typically at the front of the survey, and forcing a respondent to classify themselves as “other” could negatively impact their experience, thus affecting the remainder of the exercise.

Do more with less

Providers, especially proprietary panels, have a wealth of information about the respondent based on enrollment questionnaires, profiling, and past survey activities. If you have trust built with your sourcing partners and they have data readily available, consider not asking certain questions and instead receive data directly from the provider. Yes, this can save you some real estate in the questionnaire and bring the LOI down slightly, but the real benefit is the reduction of redundant and repetitive questions posed to the respondent, thus increasing the overall respondent experience and survey enjoyment.

Mobile accessibility is not the same as mobile optimized

Online surveys should always have a mobile-first design and be tested thoroughly for functionality across devices before launch. Smartphones and tablets are no longer secondary access points. For many, a phone is a primary means of access to the internet. Restricting this access will restrict your audience, limiting your ability to capture the authentic voice of the customer.

Join a panel and take a survey

The best way to learn about the respondent’s experience is to become one. Join a panel – in fact, join several. These respondents are fuel for our research initiatives, and as end-users, we often dissociate the human element from research design. Respondents are real people and, in many cases, our direct customers. We must empathize with their experience and use that knowledge to create better standards. So, join a panel and take some surveys. Experience what it’s like to disqualify after long screeners without compensation. Feel the frustration of broken links and poorly-worded screeners. Understand the impact a router really has on an individual being bounced from one survey to the next. Ask yourself if you feel appropriately compensated for your time after completing a 30-minute study. As a buyer, reflect on what price gouging on CPIs does to the respondent incentives. Embrace all of this information and use it to inspire actionable change. Be active, be engaged, and become part of the solution!

In closing, I would strongly encourage you to consider attending SampleCon, regardless of your role in the research process. As an industry, we often refer to respondents as the lifeblood of research, and as such, it’s critical to understand how the decisions we make ultimately impact respondents and the information they provide.

If you have any questions regarding any of these topics, want to dig deeper into any data collection or data quality topics, or simply want to share and collaborate, feel free to reach out to me!

As a Manager in Burke’s Sampling Department, Brad Franz works directly with Burke’s end clients and a network of online panel providers to help create and maintain best practices for online data collection.

Interested in reading more? Check out Brad’s other articles:

Become a Smarter Sample Buyer: A Retrospective, 5 Years Later.

Become a Smarter Sample Buyer – Essential Questions to Ask Your Provider

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