In an industry that hinges on anonymity, it’s natural for our researchers to have questions about how survey panel providers source their respondent pools. It can be daunting to make strategic decisions based on feedback from survey respondents -- but rest assured! In this article, we’ll examine how Centiment finds survey participants (also known as survey respondents), how they’re compensated, and the security measures in place to ensure that your data is top quality, actionable, and dependable:
Two of the most common questions our fielding experts hear from their researchers are simple ones: how does Centiment find people to take surveys and why do they spend their free time providing feedback? Let’s jump right into the respondent methodology that sets Centiment apart from other panel providers.
Signing up for Centiment’s panel
A survey panel is at its best when it’s comprised of a healthy variety of respondents from different walks of life. Because Centiment can source consumer and professional (B2B) audiences equally, our respondent pool is diverse in every sense. One manner we’ve used to ensure diversity is to advertise our panel through various social media channels. We recruit from Facebook and LinkedIn as well as our partner network. Regardless of where a respondent is recruited from, all respondents go through a series of security checks before being introduced to a researcher’s survey.
Once a respondent signs up to join our panel, we begin building their profile by asking basic demographic questions. We collect the most typically targeted data first, such as age, income, employment status, and industry. At this stage, respondents are self-identifying based on closed-ended, quantitative demographic questions. Their responses will become data markers that we can directly target.
We continue surveying our respondents with various questionnaires regarding their health, purchasing/consumption habits, and travel preferences, among other subjects, as we build a fully fleshed-out profile. The information provided during this stage is crucial; it serves as the basis for our back-end targeting capabilities. When respondents are asked about the components of their lives, from workplace revenue to relationship status, they select the response option that best aligns with their lived experience. Centiment then uses that data to qualify survey respondents as members of your target audience.
You may still be wondering why respondents sign up with Centiment over other panel providers. The answer is simple: unlike other market research companies, we balance researchers’ needs with our respondents’ experiences in-survey.
We believe that good survey experiences create happy respondents, and happy respondents yield the highest quality data. Before introducing our survey respondents to your project, your fielding expert will test your survey with the respondent experience in mind and provide feedback as needed. By using best-practice approaches in the survey design and formatting, your fielding expert will highlight opportunities to refine your build, tweak wording, or otherwise ensure that respondents can easily move through your survey to give you real, actionable data. We also allow respondents to choose where their incentive goes: most respondents cash out via PayPal, but some donate their survey rewards to a non-profit organization of their choice.
Sourcing specific target audiences
To confirm that each respondent has an equal opportunity to answer surveys, we alert all respondents who may qualify for a survey once it goes live. If a respondent may qualify for a survey but they haven’t answered a required targeting parameter question in the past 30 days, we’ll re-ask it ahead of your survey to further ensure that only qualified members of your target audience see your survey build.
It’s obvious: reaching the right people matters! That’s why Centiment collects over 150+ data markers on survey respondents in order to secure members of your target audience. To keep things simple, you simply tell us who you want to reach and we’ll align targeting with our profile data. If your audience is more nuanced, meaning that you have a specific qualifying parameter that isn’t accounted for in our robust targeting capabilities, don’t worry. We can use in-survey qualifying questions to further hone in on the respondents whose feedback and opinions are most critical to your research goals.
Below are examples of target audiences -- Example 1 shows audiences that can be directly targeted based off of demographic information while Example 2 is more nuanced, requiring an in-survey qualification question to qualify audience members:
Example 1: Demographic-Targeting Only
- Mothers of children aged 3-18 who drink wine regularly
- Nurses employed full-time
- IT decision-makers at organizations with 50+ employees
- Millennial females in the Northeast region of the United States
Example 2: Demographic Targeting and In-Survey Qualifying Question
- Mothers of children aged 3-18 who spend more than $100/month on wine
- Nurses employed full-time at Magnet hospitals
- IT decision-makers at organizations with 50+ employees who purchased security software within the last year
- Millennial females in the Northeast region of the United States who have purchased skincare products in the last 3 months
*It's important to note that while we can target demographic data on the back-end, any information you’d like in your final output will need to be asked in-survey. For more information on question types, including demographic questions, check out our article here.
The examples above illustrate the difference between survey audiences that we can directly target by their reported demographic data alone versus those more specific audiences that require an in-survey qualifying question. More nuanced audiences, like those illustrated in the right column, are more challenging to reach consistently. If we don’t have historic data on highly specific audiences, your fielding expert will run a combination incidence test and soft launch to determine the depths of our reach.
Are you thinking globally for your next survey project? While the majority of our market research is conducted in the United States, we can assist with international studies in 100+ countries by leveraging our integrated partner panels.
Now that you know more about how we find our survey respondents, let’s discuss the steps Centiment takes to secure the data that you need the most.
Here at Centiment, we guarantee the quality of the results that we deliver — but you may be wondering what happens behind the scenes to facilitate our researchers’ satisfaction time and time again.
First, there’s an important detail to keep in mind when it comes to data collection through Centiment — because respondents don’t know what response options will qualify for the survey and we don’t share details regarding the survey’s subject matter until they’ve qualified for your build based on existing profile data, they simply select demographic response options that most closely align with their lived experience. In short, respondents qualify themselves through self-reported demographic responses blindly, without knowing the subject matter, survey research goal, or any other details that may bias their responses.
When respondents receive notifications that a survey is live, they’ll only see the estimated time to complete the survey and the reward that they stand to earn for their time. This methodology subverts the potential selection bias caused when respondents have the option to participate based on their personal feelings toward the subject matter of the survey as opposed to entering into the survey blindly.
Beyond our respondent targeting process and the elimination of selection bias, we also use a scoring system to monitor respondent behavior across surveys. This scoring system is called the fraud score. A respondent’s fraud score can be impacted in a few ways: by behaving poorly in-survey, answering demographic questions inconsistently, and speeding through surveys. When Centiment notices a survey respondent behaving in a manner unbecoming for top-quality data collection, we increase their fraud score. If their fraud score exceeds a set threshold, we remove the respondent from the panel altogether. If you’d like to learn more about the mistakes researchers make that encourage bad behavior in respondents, check out our article on respondent behavior.
Additionally, we use technology to secure the quality of every data set we deliver. One such piece of technology, called fingerprinting, monitors the IP address, device type, and screen size, and cookies of each respondent to ensure only unique panelists enter your survey. We also use invisible ReCaptcha to defend against bots.
To further protect your data, Centiment uses TLS (transport layer security) for the security/encryption of all transmitted data which may sometimes be referred to as SSL or HTTPS. As such, respondents do not encounter the less-secure HTTP links anywhere in our data collection process with properly configured surveys. Our security is ever-changing but we hope this overview helps shed some light on the fact that there is a lot going on behind the scenes to ensure we keep our panel secure and our respondents happy.
Lastly, all of our servers are secured by firewalls and have DDoS preventive measures enabled. We have more information regarding our compliance with GDPR and CCPA available here, but one key takeaway to keep in mind is that Centiment does not store any project data housed in 3rd party tools once results have been delivered.
Please note that, if you’re using a third-party survey tool such as Qualtrics, Survey Monkey, or Survey Gizmo, then the tool may store your data and is subject to each individual companies’ encryption/security set-up.
To summarize, respondents are attracted to Centiment’s panel because we balance the survey experience with the researcher’s goals. They stay active in our panel because we allow them to reward themselves or to donate their rewards to a nonprofit organization of their choice. Your fielding expert will review your survey build to ensure that respondents can easily provide you with the information needed to create an actionable story with your data set. We’ve written a couple of articles regarding question types and the different formats we see most often in quantitative studies if you’re feeling inspired to utilize our panel with a new survey project. If you’d rather hire a PhD researcher to wrap their head around your survey goals and write, program, and/or analyze your data, we offer services beyond data collection too.