“Can you send more sample?”

August 28, 2020

The online survey needs to finish soon, completes aren't coming in fast enough and we can't be late on the schedule. So, we ask the panel provider, "can you send more sample?" But what are we really asking in these situations? The reality is that for many sample companies, they don't "send sample" at all for a particular project. Not like you think anyway. So what DOES actually happen when we ask for that "boost" to get us across the finish line? The answer to that is not singular and varies greatly depending on whom the provider actually is. However, we could be looking at one or more of the below actions. Keep in mind this isn't meant to be comprehensive and it's also true that a single provider may not use a bunch of these. But these are all modern techniques in the tech-driven sample world in which we operate.

Presented in no particular order:
Prioritization of the project in the sample technology
Many algorithms in today's sample tech have a mechanism for driving a greater proportion of traffic to a particular project. Sometimes that's driven by system related factors (like pace of field and conversion rates), or other times it's tied to manual intervention by a project manager.
Premium positioning on a daily email blast
Some providers don't often send invitations to respondents for one survey. Instead, they send 1-2x/day email blasts to respondents, each email containing links to a list of surveys. Not all surveys on that list end up receiving equal respondent clicks, though. Where a survey is presented on that list dictates how many respondents click. If your survey needs to get more starts, the provider may put your survey in a better spot on that list in the email blasts.
Supplemental supply source additions
Many providers won't hesitate to supplement existing panels on a project with another toward the end of field. This often yields a fresh flow of respondents at that new source's initial launch.
Increasing the CPI offer to (a) third-party source(s)
With some providers, they manage their partner panels in financial ways. So, partner panels make a decision whether to help on a study by analyzing the relationship of specs, open quotas and the CPI being offered. It's not uncommon where an offer CPI from your provider to a subcontracted third-party panel changes toward the end of field which then increases what sample is sent to your survey.
Tapping into fresh API partners
Panel providers now have a variety of acquisition methods when it comes to supplemental partner sources. API connections between sample technologies are now more common. Some of these are push, others pull, etc. Some have panel owner checks in place which makes this more semi-automated than fully. As a result, there could be other levers in existing connections that can boost volume on a single survey that may kick in with a simple email or phone call.
Incentive boost
Generally not desirable, but this is often effective and well-proven way to boost traffic.
Improved positioning on a portal survey "Offerwall"
Many panels have portals where respondents can manage their incentives and access current survey offers. These portals often have sections where all current survey opportunities are presented in what's called a survey wall, or "Offerwall". This, like the email blast earlier, also see a dynamic where a survey's total starts are impacted by where it sits on the wall.
And yes, more email invitations for this particular project.

Finally, Yes! Some panels still just use the old fashioned approach of just sending a large batch of direct invites to speed up the pace toward the end of field.
It's just not as simple as sending out a bigger batch of email invitations anymore. In order to ensure consistent project success, absolutely begin with a terrific field plan, but you'll also need to ensure your partner is an effective adaptor when a project's field conditions change. Work with a partner who knows how to navigate the dynamics in play so you can stay on time and on budget.

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