We recently ran our fourth webinar, part of the People for Research series we started earlier this year. This time we talked about ‘Tailoring content and processes to panel recruitment’, and shared our five top tips to help you grow and manage a panel of users for user research or testing in an ethical and sustainable way.

The webinar – hosted by our Business Development Director, Jess Lewes, and Head of Marketing and Data Protection, Maria Santos – was inspired by the workshop they both delivered at this year’s User Research London. Keep reading to find out how we adapted our user recruitment processes to successful panel recruitment.

✍️ Adapt your content to your audience 

It’s essential to start by mirroring your audience’s behaviour when planning your communication strategy, especially when recruiting vulnerable users, for example. Make sure you are using unambiguous language in your content with a clear call-to-action, that encourages people to find out more about your company or organisation before joining your panel or gets them to apply to one of your projects. Also, don’t forget to test different versions of your content to find out what works for your audience.

Read this blog to find out how we applied empathy and adapted our content strategy to suit recruitment of vulnerable audiences.

🚶‍♀️ Go where your users are

If you are looking to build a diverse panel with different segments, these different groups will be spread across different online platforms, including social media channels: this means you will need to do some research to find out where your users are depending on how you are segmenting the data. Keep in mind that people’s behaviours and tech adoption shift very quickly these days, so refresh your knowledge on your chosen recruitment platforms as often as you can.

Here’s an example, originally shared by Forbes, of how the profile of your average Facebook user changed in only two years.

If you are planning to use social media as a recruitment tool, remember that organic reach is quite low on social platforms these days, so sometimes it’s best to invest some budget on paid advertising to maximise your results.

👬 Keep them engaged

Engagement can happen in many ways, and it helps if you have the resources (including time!) to spend building a rapport with your panel members. It’s important to make them feel like they belong to a community: look at what Monzo did when they first started developing their product, using Trello to create an online community of users eager to share feedback and be involved in usability testing.

Although they started by using an informal tool and approach, Monzo have since created a more structured community section on their website, where they still share all the relevant information about upcoming updates and new products, allowing people to have public discussions on their forum. Monzo have proved that it is possible to grow and become a big company with two million customers, and still maintain a sense of community among their users.

At People for Research, there are a few engagement techniques that we use regularly and have found successful:

+ Follow up with your panel when they show interest in a project.

+ Gamify the process, if and where possible – read our case study with Comic Relief to find out how we kept a panel of users engaged throughout an eight-week diary study.

+ If they have questions, go back to them as quickly as you can.

💓 Make them feel like they belong

“When we begin a project we take time to explain to the client how important it is to ensure websites are accessible and that great design is more than just nice aesthetics, and that the goal is to design for inclusion.” We borrowed this quote from our most recent guest blog, written in collaboration with Megan Howell from Atomic Smash. In this article, Megan shared the studio’s journey during the redesign of the Bristol Pride website, ahead of their 10th anniversary.

Two perfect ways to make sure that your users will feel like they are part of a community is by making sure your content is inclusive and your processes and platforms are accessible and user-friendly.

A practical example of how we applied these principles is our Accessibility Collective, a panel of people with accessibility needs that our clients can access directly to select relevant participants, leaving the booking logistics to us. We made this process more personal at the stage of booking the participants for the sessions, reducing the screening time and doing our best to avoid problems with tech compatibility. To achieve this, we had to be flexible in the way we approached the creation of this community, and had to adapt our processes to fit the participants’ requirements and needs.

📢 Keep them informed

Not only is this ethical, but in some aspects it’s also a legal requirement. The current data protection guidelines state that it’s the responsibility of the data controller (whoever is building and managing the data, in this case) to make sure that the participants are aware of the panel’s processes and can easily find or request information about their journey and privacy rights.

It’s also essential to make sure you keep the panel members up to date if any changes are implemented in the way you recruit them for sessions, how you process their data, etc. This means being absolutely transparent with the way you collect, store and manage their personal details – this includes obtaining their consent if you, for example, have decided that you need the assistance of a user recruitment agency like People for Research to help you organise your data and collect further details, as we have done for many clients.

To summarise our five golden rule: be ethical with your recruitment and panel management practices by making sure your data protection policies remain user-centred.

Putting these guidelines into practice

During the webinar, we also looked at how we applied these rules when building our business panel for niche user recruitment. The demand for business owners and professionals in senior and niche roles has grown over the last few years, and to create a sustainable supply of users for testing and research, we have had to invest time and resources into creating a dedicated panel geared towards collecting the right information about the participants.

A specific group of people like this represents a unique set of challenges, which we identified when initially trying to apply our general user recruitment processes to finding these participants. To find out more on how we applied these golden rules to specific examples like our business panel, watch the recording of our webinar.




By Stacey Hirst, Digital Marketing Manager

If you would like to find out more about our in-house participant recruitment service for user research or usability testing get in touch on 0117 921 0008 or

At People for Research, we recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner up with a number of end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.