Mar 03, 2020 Jordan Shlosberg

Paying the right price for your survey

In Part 1, we focussed on the power of high-quality screening to get the right respondents but a very important question to ask is... how much does the right respondent cost? Survey panels are opaque assets and pricing is extremely varied between each. Quality varies too.

When you receive survey quotes, how can you be sure if cheap is cheap for a reason or expensive in order to pad a bottom line?

Conducting large surveys is a relatively expensive form of primary research but when done properly, you can generate insights worth ten times the cost. Done incorrectly and a 'cheap' survey becomes extremely costly because the cost is sunk and the time cannot be recouped.

How much would you accept to take a survey?

How much does your ideal respondent earn? Double it to get the contractor rate, divide by 252 to get the day rate and a further 10 to get an hourly rate.

  • I want to survey IT professionals earning $100k per year
  • The appropriate day rate is $800 and the hourly rate is $80.
  • A 15 minute survey should, therefore, cost the panel provider $20. Add the margin and you get to $25-$30.

If a panel provider is offering you an IT professional earning $100k for the bargain price of $10, think to yourself, would this person spend 15 minutes of her life in the pursuit of $10 minus the margin? If not, what are the kind of respondents are you receiving?

What's the incidence?

Some panel providers pay respondents whether or not you use them which means the profit from the accepted respondents must offset the loss from paying the false respondents.

Panel providers work on an incidence rate, which is essentially the % of the panel that would be accepted as a respondent. The lower the incidence rate, the more false respondents and therefore the higher the cost in order to offset these false numbers.

If you are offered a cheap price for a population with a low incidence, be wary. As a rule of thumb a B2C respondent with high incidence (IE coffee drinkers) will cost around $2-3 but a B2C respondent of Uber and Lyft drivers (0.5% incidence) maybe $8-$10.

The higher the price, the more likely the panel is of good quality but conversely the more likely the panel provider is taking a larger margin from you. If you follow the rules set out above, you will likely find a quote somewhere in the middle. When it comes to decision time, regardless if you choose the $20 cost per complete or $25 cost per complete, a thousand-person survey still costs over $20k. Is $5k additional saving worth taking the risk that the cheap provider provides low-quality respondents the invalidates your entire research?

At proSapient, we think about quality and price. Every single person on our panel has been interviewed and their extensive CV is known beforehand. We supplement our own panel with partner panels which we have extensively quality tested. Our platform can reach millions of professions and hundreds of millions of consumers.

We also provide consulting support on your survey design with intense focus on the survey screening questions to ensure you always receive valid data.

Please feel free to contact if you want to learn more!

Published by Jordan Shlosberg March 3, 2020