Regardless of what type of market research you’re planning, you need to find people to participate in your study. Sometimes, this can be very simple. If you have a list of existing or prospective customers, use that. It’s readily available and affordable.

However, what do you do if you don’t have a readymade list of people to call upon? And, what if you need to collect survey feedback from niche audiences? That makes the process that much harder.

Thankfully, there are scrappy, nimble ways for you to reach your audience, no matter how unique they are.

The Downside of Survey Panels

A historically-leveraged approach to recruiting survey participants is survey panels. This is an existing group of people who have opted-in to taking surveys. Generally basic demographic and psychographic data is collected from them upfront. That way, when surveys require a certain respondent profile, people can share it with targeted individuals in the panel.

We’re not going to tell you that we’re anti-panel. On the contrary. Panels are fantastic ways to collect valuable data quickly. We absolutely use them today, and will continue using them.

However, there are a few ways in which panels fall short:

  • Gender Skew: More women than men tend to opt-in to panels.
  • Political Skew: People opting in to panels tend to skew left of center on the political spectrum.
  • Status Quo Skew: Individuals with more unique and/or extreme perspectives and interests do not often appear in panels

Depending on your data collection needs, these short falls may not be an issue. If so, keep on using panels. However, if they cause challenges, you’ll need to go beyond panels.

Options For Collecting Survey Feedback From Niche Audiences

Let’s say you do fall into the category of having an audience where recruiting panels just won’t cut it. You’re not out of luck! Thankfully, there are a variety of other options for collecting survey feedback from niche audiences.

A couple of our go-to options include:

  • LinkedIn Groups: Do you need people who are likely part of professional associations? Recruiting them via LinkedIn groups is a great way to find targeted participants.
  • LinkedIn Direct Messages: Do you need people with certain job titles? Try searching for people on LinkedIn with specific title keywords.
  • Facebook Groups: Do you need participants with unique hobbies or interests? Facebook groups helps you find them.
  • Reddit Communities: Interested in finding individuals with especially esoteric perspectives or affiliations? Reddit is a great place to find communities of these types of people.
  • Speciality Lists: Do you need to find people based on consumer purchase data? Voter and consumer list companies make it easy to find the right people.
  • Associations Memberships: Interested in finding people who support certain causes or have certain affiliations? Nonprofits and professional associations sometimes let you reach their audiences.

Keep in mind, this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of options. However, it captures many niche audience scenarios. Depending on how unique your group is, you may need to consider multiple avenues to recruit enough participants.

Distributing The Survey

Once you’ve determined how you’re going to connect with these individuals, you’ll then need to determine how to actually collect response data. There are several typical options:

  • Email: Send survey links directly in an email
  • Social Media: Create posts in relevant social media channels and insert your survey link
  • Phone: If you have phone numbers, call people, read the survey, and collect their responses
  • SMS Invite: For public-sector work, leverage text message-based invitations

Remember, with niche audiences, one approach if often not enough. You may need to leverage several of the options above to get the right mix of quantity and quality in your response base.