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Just like the plot is only one part of a story, so can be said for your recruit source in the Community Panel recruitment process. Often when you don't see results you are hoping for, from a recruit campaign, it is easy to blame the source itself: old, outdated email addresses, possibly collected for purposes other than research, or worse yet - origin of email address unknown. Granted, these scenarios are directly related to source quality but it's only part of the story.

A successful community panel recruitment campaign really depends on a number of things in addition to the quality of your recruit source, starting with the invitation you are sending. Sending a personalized message that mentions things like the length of the survey, any incentive for completion or ongoing participation, and close dates for the survey - all encourage people to take part. Studies show that the average email reader spends only 2-8 seconds skimming through a message - so optimize your message for skimming and have your call-to-action near the top. Try to avoid any special characters or words in the subject line that might lead someone to think your message is spam.

We now have people starting the survey - success! Now we have to ensure we have a short (8-10 minutes completion) and engaging (using interactive questions in the right tone that matches the audience) profiling study to capture all the information we need to qualify members to join. It's easy to lose people here with questions that someone might find irrelevant or annoying. Resist the urge to ask everything you've ever wanted to know here - once people join the community panel, you can ask them anything you want!

The recruitment process doesn't end with completion of the profiling study; it extends into the ongoing relationship and the member experience. Recruiting new members can be very time-consuming and costly, so it's much better to invest in the people you have worked hard to bring in instead of damaging that relationship, seeing people leave, and having to go through all that again and again. You know that recruitment is an ongoing process, but doing large campaigns can be avoided with regular engagement and consideration of the member experience. Build on the profiling data you have to send relevant surveys to the right people, reward people for their time and insights, and share back information to show your valued members how much they are helping you.

For your next recruit campaign, don't only track the join rate from the recruit source you are using - be aware of all the elements required for a successful recruit campaign and track response rates closely for the next 3 months to make sure the member experience is meeting expectations. That way, you're considering all parts of the story.

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