Carina Cornesse, Barbara Felderer, Marina Fikel, Ulrich Krieger, Annelies G. Blom
Recruiting a Probability-Based Online Panel via Postal Mail: Experimental Evidence

Social Science Computer Review, 2022: 40, issue 5, pp. 1259-1284
ISSN: 0894-4393 (print), 1552-8286 (online)

Once recruited, probability-based online panels have proven to enable high-quality and high-frequency data collection. In ever faster-paced societies and, recently, in times of pandemic lockdowns, such online survey infrastructures are invaluable to social research. In absence of email sampling frames, one way of recruiting such a panel is via postal mail. However, few studies have examined how to best approach and then transition sample members from the initial postal mail contact to the online panel registration. To fill this gap, we implemented a large-scale experiment in the recruitment of the 2018 sample of the German Internet Panel (GIP) varying panel recruitment designs in four experimental conditions: online-only, concurrent mode, online-first, and paper-first. Our results show that the online-only design delivers higher online panel registration rates than the other recruitment designs. In addition, all experimental conditions led to similarly representative samples on key socio-demographic characteristics.