INSIGHTS

Getting the Most Return for Your Research Dollar with a Flexible, Longitudinal Research Panel

Tom Rhinelander
April 12, 2024

 

Understanding the behavior, attitudes, and needs of prospects, customers, and internal users is critical for organizations that build effective SaaS products and mobile apps. However, even a well-funded and staffed UX research team has trouble meeting the needs of product groups and senior executives. For those with limited resources, delivering insights that translate into exceptional experiences is even harder. Most rightfully resort to what is possible: point research initiatives designed to tackle today’s most pressing issue. While this is the pragmatic solution, it limits flexibility and often produces valuable but siloed, frozen-in-time results. Another option, available at a variety of price points based on scope, is a long-term research panel. It can often deliver more of what is needed, and in a more timely fashion.

Common Research Challenges Hinder Product Improvement

Product teams want insight and actionable feedback from users to short- and long-term questions, but often, as UX researchers, we have to temper expectations. We know what we would like to deliver, but we often take longer than anyone wants or can only provide limited results. Some of the common challenges faced include:

  • Slow starts due to issues of recruiting qualified people. Particularly for focused projects, such as wanting feedback from a small user base of a niche product, finding, vetting, and scheduling can take much longer than desired. Instead of starting a week after kickoff, weeks can pass before the full roster of participants is confirmed.
  • A lack of insight into attitudes and behaviors over months or even years. Yes, we can ask all sorts of questions in quantitative and qualitative projects, but often they are “one and done” activities. We can approximate tracking long-term sentiment by asking the same questions six months later, but often it is with a similar type of user, not the one we talked to previously.
  • A frustrating inability to follow up after iterating designs or launching a new feature. Often, we ask users about what they want or what they think about a product, and then designers and engineers iterate or create something based on what we reported. Most times, we don’t get to re-engage with the same people who gave us input to see if succeeding in meeting their desires.

The Value of a Turn-key Research Panel

To combat this issue, Proximity Lab developed our Research Panel offering. It’s a flexible product designed to meet the real-world needs of organizations. For example, it can help track customer sentiment over a 12-month period, but it can also make it simple to jump-start a last-minute research project in minimal time with qualified, pre-vetted respondents. Having Proximity Lab manage the panel delivers many benefits:

  • Collaborating with an unbiased team with a wide range of industry experience. Proximity Lab researchers have worked with many organizations in a variety of verticals, and we ensure that we work with clients to improve what either could come up with on their own. As a neutral party, we can push back on something that doesn’t seem helpful, or advocate for what might be difficult to do within an organization. From start to finish, we will let you know what we think, working with your team to deliver insights no matter whether they will be popular or unpopular internally.
  • Allowing your team to focus on the questions, not panel management or recruitment. Researchers love talking to users and product teams love getting evidence to back up a decision, but no one likes dealing with the expensive, time consuming process of recruitment and vetting. By letting us handle management, research teams can focus all their energies on how to best utilize this new, powerful resource.
  • Letting you tap into a diverse pool of participants that may be difficult for your team to access. For many reasons, it can be hard for some in-house research teams to access the people they really want to talk to. As a third-party, we can find, recruit, and incent a wide-range of panel members whose voices might normally be unheard.

Panel Details

So what, exactly, does a panel look like? While each panel is a bit different, key features include:

  • A dedicated, long-term panel. The participants, usually in the 25-100 person range, are recruited and vetted to meet the needs of an organization. Most often, panel members commit to 6- or 12-months worth of activities. As for the members, they could be focused on a primary distinction, such as those in an industry at companies with a certain revenue size; divided into two or three relevant cohorts, such as buyers, influencers, and users; or grouped in a variety of other ways.
  • Quantitative research via quarterly surveys. Typically, in a year-long engagement, all the panel members respond to a kickoff survey that gets at the most important foundational information. Three additional surveys, one per quarter, can then be used to help track trends or to answer specific questions that arise.
  • Qualitative interview sessions each quarter. Once a quarter, a portion of the panel can be engaged for individual research sessions. Most often, these are one-hour, moderated sessions with Proximity Lab facilitators. Topics can be planned out in advance, or they can be utilized by teams with the greatest need during a particular quarter.

A Complementary Research Tool Delivering Greater Actionable Insight

As with any third-party service, offerings like this can sometimes be seen as competitive with internal resources. But rather than competing with in-house teams, the Research Panel and Proximity Lab team is about enabling them to deliver better, faster insights enabling evidence-based business decisions. 

With a long history of working with many types and sizes of internal research teams, we know how to be an exceptional partner. For us, the Research Panel is a natural evolution of what we have been successfully delivering for over 20 years. 

Contact us to discuss how a panel could benefit you, your research and product teams, and your organization as a whole at hello@proximitylab.com.

 

Understanding the behavior, attitudes, and needs of prospects, customers, and internal users is critical for organizations that build effective SaaS products and mobile apps. However, even a well-funded and staffed UX research team has trouble meeting the needs of product groups and senior executives. For those with limited resources, delivering insights that translate into exceptional experiences is even harder. Most rightfully resort to what is possible: point research initiatives designed to tackle today’s most pressing issue. While this is the pragmatic solution, it limits flexibility and often produces valuable but siloed, frozen-in-time results. Another option, available at a variety of price points based on scope, is a long-term research panel. It can often deliver more of what is needed, and in a more timely fashion.

Common Research Challenges Hinder Product Improvement

Product teams want insight and actionable feedback from users to short- and long-term questions, but often, as UX researchers, we have to temper expectations. We know what we would like to deliver, but we often take longer than anyone wants or can only provide limited results. Some of the common challenges faced include:

  • Slow starts due to issues of recruiting qualified people. Particularly for focused projects, such as wanting feedback from a small user base of a niche product, finding, vetting, and scheduling can take much longer than desired. Instead of starting a week after kickoff, weeks can pass before the full roster of participants is confirmed.
  • A lack of insight into attitudes and behaviors over months or even years. Yes, we can ask all sorts of questions in quantitative and qualitative projects, but often they are “one and done” activities. We can approximate tracking long-term sentiment by asking the same questions six months later, but often it is with a similar type of user, not the one we talked to previously.
  • A frustrating inability to follow up after iterating designs or launching a new feature. Often, we ask users about what they want or what they think about a product, and then designers and engineers iterate or create something based on what we reported. Most times, we don’t get to re-engage with the same people who gave us input to see if succeeding in meeting their desires.

The Value of a Turn-key Research Panel

To combat this issue, Proximity Lab developed our Research Panel offering. It’s a flexible product designed to meet the real-world needs of organizations. For example, it can help track customer sentiment over a 12-month period, but it can also make it simple to jump-start a last-minute research project in minimal time with qualified, pre-vetted respondents. Having Proximity Lab manage the panel delivers many benefits:

  • Collaborating with an unbiased team with a wide range of industry experience. Proximity Lab researchers have worked with many organizations in a variety of verticals, and we ensure that we work with clients to improve what either could come up with on their own. As a neutral party, we can push back on something that doesn’t seem helpful, or advocate for what might be difficult to do within an organization. From start to finish, we will let you know what we think, working with your team to deliver insights no matter whether they will be popular or unpopular internally.
  • Allowing your team to focus on the questions, not panel management or recruitment. Researchers love talking to users and product teams love getting evidence to back up a decision, but no one likes dealing with the expensive, time consuming process of recruitment and vetting. By letting us handle management, research teams can focus all their energies on how to best utilize this new, powerful resource.
  • Letting you tap into a diverse pool of participants that may be difficult for your team to access. For many reasons, it can be hard for some in-house research teams to access the people they really want to talk to. As a third-party, we can find, recruit, and incent a wide-range of panel members whose voices might normally be unheard.

Panel Details

So what, exactly, does a panel look like? While each panel is a bit different, key features include:

  • A dedicated, long-term panel. The participants, usually in the 25-100 person range, are recruited and vetted to meet the needs of an organization. Most often, panel members commit to 6- or 12-months worth of activities. As for the members, they could be focused on a primary distinction, such as those in an industry at companies with a certain revenue size; divided into two or three relevant cohorts, such as buyers, influencers, and users; or grouped in a variety of other ways.
  • Quantitative research via quarterly surveys. Typically, in a year-long engagement, all the panel members respond to a kickoff survey that gets at the most important foundational information. Three additional surveys, one per quarter, can then be used to help track trends or to answer specific questions that arise.
  • Qualitative interview sessions each quarter. Once a quarter, a portion of the panel can be engaged for individual research sessions. Most often, these are one-hour, moderated sessions with Proximity Lab facilitators. Topics can be planned out in advance, or they can be utilized by teams with the greatest need during a particular quarter.

A Complementary Research Tool Delivering Greater Actionable Insight

As with any third-party service, offerings like this can sometimes be seen as competitive with internal resources. But rather than competing with in-house teams, the Research Panel and Proximity Lab team is about enabling them to deliver better, faster insights enabling evidence-based business decisions. 

With a long history of working with many types and sizes of internal research teams, we know how to be an exceptional partner. For us, the Research Panel is a natural evolution of what we have been successfully delivering for over 20 years. 

Contact us to discuss how a panel could benefit you, your research and product teams, and your organization as a whole at hello@proximitylab.com.

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