By Ashton Walz
Are you new to Market Research? Or do you know someone who is new to market research? Many of us came out of business school with no more than one market research class under our belts so that means we had to learn the art and science of market research while on the job. But learning our craft while doing the job can be tricky because you’re often “trying to safely fly the airplane while building it.” With this in mind, the SIVO team thought it would be great to share the basics of quantitative online survey design with the next generation of market researchers out there. To our experienced clients and friends, please feel free to pass these nuggets on to someone new to our industry!
The Art of the Market Research Survey
An online survey for quantitative market research can be the key to gaining critical insight into your market, consumer, brand, product, or competition. Collecting this valuable data will lead to a better understanding of the market you operate in and your consumers’ preferences, opinions, behaviors, and needs. Leveraging the data and insights gathered from surveys, business teams can make informed decisions, shape their strategies, and refine their products or services.
But collecting this data can be tricky. If the survey is not designed well, organizations can be misled by inaccurate data. Market researchers have a phrase for this…“Garbage in, garbage out.” No one wants to make bad decisions from bad information so here are 10 tips for writing a great market research survey.
10 Tips for Great Online Surveys
Survey development requires both rigor and creativity. It takes experience and practice to get it right but there are some basic rules that will help you garner more accurate results:
1. Define Your Objectives
Clearly establish the purpose and objectives of your survey. Identify the specific information you want to gather and the decisions or actions that will be influenced by the survey results. This should be done first to give your survey questions purpose and direction. A best practice is to categorize your survey questions under each business objective so that when the data is collected, you know that you’ll have the answers you need.
2. Include an Introduction and Instructions
Provide a clear introduction at the beginning of the survey, explaining the purpose, importance, and estimated time for completion. Include instructions for navigating the survey and answering the questions.
3. Ensure Anonymity and Confidentiality
Assure respondents that their answers will remain confidential and anonymous. Avoid collecting personally identifiable information unless necessary for specific research purposes. Be transparent about how you will handle, store and share out the data. This allows the respondent to be comfortable and candid in their responses, which improves accuracy and depth of insight.
4. Avoid Leading or Biased Questions
Frame questions in a neutral manner to avoid biasing the respondents’ answers. Use balanced language and avoid leading statements that could influence the respondents’ opinions. A survey created with biased questions will ultimately be thrown out as the respondent’s answers are not representative of how they actually feel. An example of a leading question is, “Which product features do you find most useful?” This question assumes that consumers find the product useful when they might not find it useful at all.
5. Provide Response Options
Offer a variety of response options that cover the range of possible answers. Include options like “don’t know” or “prefer not to answer” to account for respondents who may not have a specific answer or may be uncomfortable sharing certain information. In doing so, it becomes a lot easier to avoid bad data and get an accurate look at your consumer target’s preferences.
6. Use Logical Flow and Organization
Organize your survey in a logical and coherent order. Start with easy, less intimidating questions to engage respondents and progressively move towards more specific or sensitive topics. By using this ‘funnel’ technique it helps prime the respondent to think more critically when the in-depth questions come up. This organization can also help the researcher to weed out any respondents that would not provide accurate or helpful information for the study. (e.g., if someone doesn’t buy carbonated water, don’t ask them what their favorite flavor is.)
7. Avoid Double-barreled questions
To ensure that your data is clear and insightful, be sure to avoid asking about two topics in a single question as it creates ambiguity in the data and leaves the analyst wondering how to interpret it. For instance, the question, “Please rate how well you like the lighting and atmosphere of this store?” leaves the analyst wondering if the respondent considered the lighting, the atmosphere or both when providing a rating.
8. Make it Interesting
A well-designed market research survey aims to uncover crucial information while simultaneously engaging with the target audience, to cultivate a sense of involvement. A mix of closed and open-ended question types can create a more interactive and enjoyable survey. Not only does it provide for an immersive experience but generally leaves the respondent feeling like they are being heard as they can freely express themselves through various types of questions.
9. Keep Survey Length under 15 minutes
In the same vein as making the survey interesting, survey length should be no longer than 15 minutes and ideally, 12 minutes or less. When respondents get fatigued, it can negatively impact their attention and diligence which impacts data accuracy. Long lengths also lead to incomplete surveys as respondents drop off.
10. Test Your Survey
Before launching the survey, conduct a pilot test with a small group of respondents to identify any confusing or problematic questions. Adjust based on their feedback to ensure clarity and relevance. This can prove to be extremely useful as there could be some things the survey designer didn’t catch that a respondent will.
Your Source for Expert Consumer Insights
At SIVO, Inc., we dedicate ourselves to creating engaging and accurate quantitative market research surveys that help you better understand your market and consumers. We are experts in developing the appropriate questions and applying the right analytic techniques to deliver insights that meet your business objectives.