Participating in online surveys conducted by market research companies can be a
good source of extra pocket cash. There are some things that you should ponder
before deciding whether to the join survey panels of market research companies.
Here are some suggestions that you may find helpful:
- What are your reasons for participating in online survey panels? Are you taking
online surveys strictly to make money? Do you enjoy the opportunity to express your
opinion and influence marketing decisions? You will want to explore your reasons for
participating, since this will make it easier to determine whether surveys are worth
your time. Don’t ever get fooled into thinking that you can make a full time living off
of taking surveys. Any money you make from taking surveys is supplemental income
at best. I use the extra money to put gas in my car or to buy a cup of coffee from
time to time. I question the veracity of statements such as: You can make $75- $100
an hour by taking online surveys. The average survey offer is between $1- $5, for
10 minutes to 30 minutes of your time. Once in a while, “specialist” surveys are
offered which can pay $20 or more for your time.
- Understand the incentive system that each company offers. Some companies
utilize a points system, whereby you earn a certain amount of points for each survey
completed. Those points can be converted into amounts which can be redeemed for
money or other merchandise. It’s important to understand the conversion factor for
points awarded (example, 1000 points = $10 or 1000 points = $50 ). This way you
will avoid wasting time with surveys than may not pay as well compared to others.
Other companies don’t reward in points, but rather reward dollar (or cents) amounts
for surveys completed. Also, the payout threshold varies from company to company.
Where one company might have a payout as low as $5.00, another may require you
to have $50.00 in your account before you are allowed to cash out.
- Related to #2, familiarize yourself with payment methods. Some market research
companies payout in cash via PayPal or check. Others make payments in the form
of gift certificates with major retailers like Amazon.com, or through virtual gift cards.
If you aren’t aware of payment methods, you could find yourself taking surveys only
to be rewarded with a magazine subscription or points for a tote bag, or perhaps, a
no-name brand MP3 player. There is nothing wrong with this in and of itself. But,
what if these incentives don’t tickle your fancy?
- Know the market research company’s policy regarding account inactivity. It is
often required that you login to your account within a certain time frame in order for
the account to be considered active. If not, you run the risk of your account getting
deactivated. There are market research companies that will go as far as removing
points from an inactive account and then closing the account.
Just as a hypothetical, a panel member at one market research company hasn’t used
her account for over a year. The terms of service clearly states that if a panel
member has not taken any surveys or logged into their account within 12 months,
then the account will become inactive. This market research company considers all
money rewarded in inactive accounts to be forfeited to the market
research company. You don’t want all of your hard work and time to go down the
drain. So, be sure to read up on this. As a matter of fact, you should read the entire
terms of service agreement very thoroughly to avoid unknowingly violating any of the
terms of service.
thing that you want is for a company to take your private information and use or sell
it to another company without your permission. Reputable market research
companies have privacy policies and they do not use your information to sell things
- Never pay to join a survey website. Bona fide market research survey panels don’t
charge members to join. You should not have to pay for a list of real survey
companies, either. This is information readily available to you with a little common
sense and Googling legwork.
- Be honest in the information that you provide to market research companies.
Panelists that provide dishonest answers just to qualify for surveys, are often
permanently kicked out of the panel when discovered. Also, the market research
company is collecting data for their clients. Providing incorrect information during a
survey, leads to skewed statistics and unreliable data. Market research companies
and their clients aren’t willing to pay for bad information.
- You won’t qualify for every survey opportunity that you are offered. You may find
that you start a screener in the beginning of the survey, and get disqualified after a
few minutes. During the screener you get asked questions about your demographics.
That’s because market research companies often target specific segments of the
population. Most market research companies don’t pay for the time it took for
screening. You get paid only if you complete the survey and your results are
approved. If you are disqualified during a screener, don’t feel discouraged. Just keep
- You might want to sign up for a free e-mail address and use this e-mail account for
panels. In the event that you sign up for a company which poses as a market
research company, your e-mail inbox might get flooded with spam. To save yourself
some headaches, refrain from providing your personal and business e-mail unless
you are very certain that you’re dealing with a reputable organization. Scammers
won’t hesitate to sell your information and then proceed to spam you.
10. After you sign up with a market research panel, you will receive an activation email.
It is very important to click on the link in the activation e-mail, so that your
account is activated. Afterwards, you will be able to receive survey invites in your email
inbox. Add the market research company’s e-mail address to your contact list,
so that the e-mails that you receive from them won’t go to the spam folder.