Leveraging Online Communities to Solve Data Quality Challenges


Leveraging Online Communities to Solve Data Quality Challenges

Ray Poynter
Ray Poynter
February 6, 2024
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Over the last 18 months, the scale of the problems with data quality have been highlighted, resulting in a multi-agency, Global Data Quality initiative being created.

The partners in this initiative, including ESOMAR, the UK’s MRS, the USA’s Insights Association, and SampleCon (the providers of samples), are working together to tackle the quality issues threatening the future of insights.

Several studies highlight that, in numerous instances, 30% to 40% of data gathered by online panel companies may not be suitable for its intended purpose, and an informative resource to understand this issue better is the material created by CASE (Coalition for Advancing Sample Excellence).

The largest single problem with data quality is fraud, people using technology to pretend to be research participants to collect the incentives. For instance, sophisticated bots masquerading as survey participants can significantly skew data, necessitating advanced screening techniques. Other problems include poor screening and poor questionnaire design.

Whilst we all wish the Global Data Quality initiative success, this leaves a big question about what clients are supposed to do now, in 2024. The answer to many of your data quality concerns is to use an online community.

Online Communities the Answer to Most Panel Quality Issues

One of the best ways of insuring yourself against panel data quality issues is by using an online community.

The key benefits of an online community include:

  • You know who the participants are, and through the incentive scheme, you know they are only in your study once.
  • You know how many surveys and qualitative tasks people are taking part in. The members of online access panels often do more than 100 surveys a week, including surveys on the same topic for different brands.
  • You can monitor the quality of responses for each participant, purging poorly performing cases and recruiting replacements.
  • You can create a sense of mutuality with your community, ensuring win-win outcomes, leading to engaged participants and higher-quality data.
  • You do not need to ask the questions you already have the answers to (e.g. demographics, usage etc), which leads to shorter surveys and therefore better quality.
  • You do not need to ask every possible question on a just-in-case basis, because you can ask further questions if necessary.
  • By using a single questionnaire platform, you can enforce quality standards, asking better questions, leading to better quality outcomes.

Quality Issues to Consider When Using Online Communities

Whilst online communities are inherently more reliable and trustworthy than an arbitrarily selected online panel, there are ways to promote quality.

Key steps include:

a.) Monitor your community health, for example, what is the response rate, the member satisfaction etc.

b.) Regularly purge participants who are suspect or who do not participate.

c.) Recruit new members to keep your community membership aligned with your research needs.

d.) Create a sense of community with regular feedback and include fun projects in the mix.

e.) Create and teach good survey practice to everybody who uses the community, keeping the participants engaged.

f.) Target your invitations to avoid asking people to do projects not relevant to them. Avoid screening people out (this is one of the things that community and panel members hate the most).

What about when you need to use online panels?

Online communities are great for most types of research, but there are some occasions when you need to use online panels. These cases mostly revolve around studying the whole market, including non-customers.

Here are five steps that can help you stay safe.

  1. Try to deal with a single panel provider and develop a relationship with a specific person. Talk to them about the options available and build trust and understanding over time.
  2. Insist on your sample coming only from their database (you do not want routers or blending to be applied to your sample).
  3. Add questions to your survey that will help you spot fraud and then check the sample you are sent to ensure it is fit for purpose.
  4. Have a clear agreement with your panel provider that they will replace any doubtful or dodgy data.
  5. Use the ESOMAR 37 questions to find out more about your sample provider. There are answers from about 40 panel companies to these questions on the ESOMAR website.

Discover how our online community solutions can elevate the quality of your market research data.

To explore how our online communities can enhance your data quality, contact us for a personalized discussion and free demo at info@platform1.cx.

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