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Best Practices in Panel Management: Incentives

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by Adam Sowers, Specialty Panel Manager, uSamp

The other week, I found myself agreeing to take a survey – after all I am in the business, and thought for good karma, I’d pay it back. The invitation stated that I could earn some pocket change for ten minutes of my time. Twenty minutes later, I was escorted to an over-quota page. With my head in my non-clicking hand, I closed my browser. I felt duped and wanted those lost minutes of my life back. Unfortunately, there are no reward options for regaining lost time – I’ve checked.

Unpleasant experiences like this contribute to panel burn. Jaded respondents don’t want to interact with your brand if they are left feeling unsatisfied, unhappy, or worse – betrayed. Establishing accurate expectations is the first, and most obvious, step to help reduce panel burn. I would like to share with you a few additional fundamental practices that should be instituted to maximize panelist retention.

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June 21st, 2012

Posted in Uncategorized

Best Practices for Panel Management: Dynamic Profiling

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by Josh Brezner, Panel Development Manager, uSamp

This is the third post of our Best Practices in Panel Management series.

Many of us claim to truly “know” our panelists. And why shouldn’t we? Through member profiling, we have the ability to capture everything from basic demographics to leisure, health and business information on respondents. We know what brands they buy, what food they eat, and where they bank. But profile data is often treated as a timeless portrait of a panelist, and not as a subjective snapshot of a person with changing consumer habits. If left unchecked, this approach can have devastating implications.

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June 7th, 2012

Posted in Best Practices

Best Practices for Panel Management: Registration and Security

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by Lisa Wilding-Brown, VP Panel Operations, uSamp

So You’ve Recruited Your Audience. Now What?

Here’s how to make your registration count.

You’ve identified key traffic sources: the sites where potential panelists are hanging out, enjoying themselves, consuming goods on their own time, and sharing opinions with their friends. But just because you’ve got their attention does not mean they’ll listen. The first portal of entry is perhaps the most important for both the registrant, and the company hosting the panel.

First impressions matter

From a panel management perspective, each and every engagement of a panelist should be carefully orchestrated. Whether engaged via email invitation or within the online panel environment, constant care should be exercised.

Panel builders should be mindful of the frequency of contact as additional reminders or an over-abundance of email invitations can get on the nerve of even the most dedicated panelist. Respondents should not be invited on an exceptionally frequent basis as this can cause premature attrition, and provoke bad survey behavior.

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May 23rd, 2012

Posted in Best Practices

Four Years of uSamp: The Men Behind The Story

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As uSamp blows out its fourth birthday candle, co-founders Matt Dusig & Gregg Lavin discuss what the number four means to them.

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March 20th, 2012

Posted in Uncategorized

Sample Aggregation in Market Research: Critical Questions to Ask Online Suppliers

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by Matt Dusig, Co-Founder & CEO, uSamp

 

 

 

 

If you’ve worked in the industry long enough, you’ve experienced a five-alarm fire drill. You’ve carefully plotted out what you believe will be the perfectly executed project. Everything is running as scheduled when suddenly, incidence drops without warning, response rates tank, and the client unexpectedly adds that last minute “little” change that screens out potential respondents. Your best-laid plans are no longer suitable and more resources are needed—fast. What do you do to keep your project alive and your client satisfied? Did you say…aggregation?

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February 15th, 2012

Posted in Uncategorized

Entrepreneur Journeys: Sramana Mitra Talks Sample

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uSamp’s CEO, Matt Dusig recently shared his entrepreneurial path with  Sramana Mitra, founder of the One Million by One Million global initiative aimed at helping a million entrepreneurs to reach a million dollars each in annual revenue and beyond by 2020.

The case study can be accessed in its seven-part entirety on Sramana’s blog.

January 18th, 2012

Posted in Online Research

From The CFO’s Chair: Strategies For Coming Out Top In 2012

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by John Woolard, Chief Financial Officer

What if we told you that one of our leaders was a big wave rider with a photographic memory who once was lost in the Saudi Arabian desert, and now can be found in a corner office in Encino? uSamp challenges you to find another CFO with that street-cred. John Woolard is a CPA with more than 20 years of diverse financial leadership experience in entertainment, retail, manufacturing and distribution, including positions as CFO, VP of Finance, and Controllership. Before taking this role as CFO, he led finance teams in the U.K., Netherlands and the Middle East. Woolard has a proven ability to manage and optimize financial results within rapidly changing environments. He possesses an extensive background in strategic planning, financial reporting, treasury operations and internal controls and has solid relationships in the investor and lending communities. Woolard earned a degree in accounting and finance from Cal State Northridge. Not listed on his resume, but worthy of mention: his ability to read minds and penchant for English pubs especially–when Chelsea is playing.

As we reach the end of a year of rapid growth, it is hard to imagine that three years ago, we were a small but ambitious start-up where office space was a non-issue, and elbow grease went a long way. uSamp has been successful in expanding its reach in terms of employees, projects, markets, and clients. But as with any success comes responsibility.

Over the next 12 months, we will continue to face key challenges like growing the business in proportion to the revenue, and managing this growth while maintaining quality. These challenges are not new nor are they unique to uSamp, but are an inevitable part of maturing in the venture ecosystem. At this stage in our own venture, we continue to think big but stay focused. These key points create the ambition and stability we need to keep our competition guessing in 2012.

Thinking Big:

Over the past year, uSamp expanded its reach across North America, Europe, and India, and hired 100 new employees for entry-level roles, software engineers, and senior level strategy heads. This fast growth was necessary to accommodate for our growing traditional sample business, and essential in building the optimal infrastructure for the suite of new products launched over the year. It all comes down to timing–investing in the right projects and resources, and hiring the right people at the right time.

uSamp announced the official launch of our European business and local presence in London. With the help of our Gaelle Normand, our Managing Director in Europe, our growth in Europe greatly surpassed our expectations. The excitement, energy and anticipation on Grays Inn Road is reminiscent of our early days in Encino.

Additionally, we have invested time and resources into our India presence. This past fall key executives including myself from our North American office had the opportunity to spend time in the Indian office, and to witness the intelligent and dynamic team in action.

We have done a solid job of managing many different moving parts, in large part due to our strong leadership team who operates independently. We do a good job of bringing new ideas to light, and constructing a plan to make those ideas a tangible reality.

But all of this growth doesn’t come easy. It requires the dedicated management of a global enterprise, and staying true to our original intentions. Which brings me to my second point….

Staying Focused:

As uSamp continues to grow in terms of revenue, market grasp, panel numbers, and product offerings, it’s important to remember our original mission and value proposition. At the heart of uSamp is our panel—one of our strongest assets. We will continue engaging current panelists, while sourcing new niche panelists. Our focus will be on cultivating business, medical and Hispanic audiences, and expanding our reach to the Asian Pacific in order to meet the demands of the marketplace and better serve our clients’ needs.

In 2011, we’ve are lucky to have been rewarded by tremendous growth in North America and around the world. But at the end of the day, it’s clients that matter most—the key contributors to our success. We have a dedicated operations team that is on call 24/7, so that we can efficiently meet all of our global clients’ needs day and night. In all of the noise, the excitement, the chaos, it is easy to lose sight of our intentions. But we will continue to prioritize listening to our clients, to our leadership, to our employees. And we will continue to imagine ourselves in start-up survival mode. This past year, uSamp was recognized by The Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the best places to work in Los Angeles. We will strive to live up to the praise, and bring a dynamic work culture to every office across the globe.

 

January 5th, 2012

Posted in Uncategorized

Best of Blogs: uSamp’s Farewell to 2011

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Fall 2011 marked uSamp’s foray into the market research blogosphere. The Greenbook Blog, Next Gen Market Research, Innovation Evolved, Research Access, Love Stats, Forrester, MRGA’s Social Advisory…you’ve certainly inspired and set the industry standards high! We wanted engage in the dialogue that is central to our field of work. We wanted to join in on the debates around  DIY, gamification, privacy, sample quality, and consumer insight. It has been our objective to add value to a space already a-buzz with information.

uSamp is comprised of thought-leaders both wizened MR folks, and young innovative minds. We will continue tapping the intel we have inside in hopes that we can provide a feisty debate, a helpful take-away, a peek into how we work, even just a chuckle or two. We pride ourselves on transparency, and will continue to develop our blog to foster an open, intelligent and colorful community. We hope that you have enjoyed uSamp’s perspective thus far, as we will continue ramping it up in the new year.

To close out 2011, we decide to bring back some of the greatest hits from our freshman album. Without further ado, we invite you to revisit the following posts:

As always, we encourage your feedback and live for your ideas. Thanks for a terrific 2011, and here’s to lots of discussion and insight in the new year!

December 21st, 2011

Posted in Industry Trends

Best Practices for Managing Remote Offices

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by Yanawan Saguansataya Hurlbut, VP, Client Services and Programming

As VP of Client Services and Programming, Yan is uSamp’s global management maverick, as she is responsible for 40 people across two countries and over four locations. She honed in on her adept management skills at Greenfield Online where she was tasked with developing and managing the Sample Only client service strategy with a 33 person organization across three countries. She served 10 years at Greenfield, growing from project manager to VP of the North American Sample Only product line. She continues to leverage this operational experience in her current role at uSamp where her latest endeavor is the creation of a programming and hosting team to support clients looking for a one-stop shop.

The fact that businesses operate as internationally connected networks is old news. It is impossible to function as silos in a global market. As we continue to expand and try to recruit top talent to our companies, it has become imperative to consider how we can effectively communicate across culture, and understand the job market it as it applies to our recruits. With my largest project management team overseas in Delhi, India, I have had to quickly learn how adapt my management skills to address the diverse markets that we’ve entered into.

The lessons that I have learned are particular to the local work culture, but I think that there are many practices that can apply to managers in any circumstance or country. I will elaborate on the keys to recruiting and training employees in an environment outside your realm of expertise.

Hiring

Understand the employment landscape:

We all know that research is invaluable, which is why we are in this world. Before entering a new market, it is critical to understand what makes people tick–in a professional sense. What are the qualification standards? Do workers move around or stay at their post? What drives employee satisfaction?

There is a lot of movement in the competitive Indian job market, and it is quite normal to come across a Project Manager candidate who has a three-page resume with multiple advanced certifications, and two-three year stints with an employer. Advancement, and the opportunities that enable advancement over the course of a career, is paramount versus staying static at the same company for longevity’s sake. This has made the hiring process exciting, but also daunting because of all the well-qualified candidates. Which leads to the next point,

Set clear qualifications requirements:

I know that our PMs are going to be client-facing, so we stress excellent verbal and written communication skills–a must for any multi-national company. We filter candidates by a formal interview with on-site managers, a basic skills test, and a telephone interview with an off-site manager. Once we find a suitable candidate, we prepare ourselves for a considerable wait-period, as often times employees must give 30 to 60 days of notice before they can leave a post. Preparation is the key to finding and securing the right candidate

Training

Customizing the training program to the culture:

As in any on-boarding process, it is important to find out how to best connect with your new hire.  What is his or her central motivating factor? Do they learn by watching or doing? Do they like to lead by example?

Training has been a critical and evolving process for our uSamp India team. Not just because we think it’s necessary to get everyone on the same page, but because our applicants expect it of us. Applicants judge a company’s clout by their training process, and place as much emphasis on learning as achieving. Our team places strong emphasis on formal training versus the “baptism-by-fire” approach that is a popular practice in America. Hires seek to build their resume, and look to a company that will help them enhance a particular skill set, and elevate them to be experts in their field.

As you wonder how to incorporate this into your own program, remember that training takes many forms.  The most obvious is new hire orientation of systems and processes.  Exposure to new study designs and technologies or even a new client set is invaluable experience that should not be discounted.  More obvious training opportunities include industry-level training (CASRO, MRA, etc.) or process-level training (PMP, Six Sigma, etc.).

Retaining

Fostering office culture:

Today’s workplace is a diverse place and retaining key contributors can be a daunting task. It is easy to undermine “culture” as just another industry buzzword, but it is at the heart of any company. Creating a cohesive culture is as important as any hiring or training process. At uSamp, every location has a game room with an Internet–enabled gaming system connecting all our offices. We regularly host lunches/dinners at our offices and quarterly team outings. Remember that fun, flexibility and an open attitude is key.  Good luck!

December 14th, 2011

Posted in Uncategorized

2012 EU Forecast: Can the market research industry beat uncertainty in Eurozone?

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by Ben Leet, Senior Director HRT and Survey Solutions

Ben joined the uSamp UK team at the very beginning, and is charged with building out our new client relationships in Europe. Prior to joining uSamp Ben held senior positions with Decision Tree Consulting, Toluna and Ugam, the first of which saw Ben designing, conducting and delivering full service research programmes to blue chip clients for over 5 years, before joining the online panel business at Toluna in early 2008. This combination allows Ben to understand all aspects of the market research process, adding value to uSamp clients along the way. Ben is a Graduate of the Nottingham Business School in the UK with a BA (Hons) in European Business.

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December 7th, 2011

Posted in Uncategorized