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10 Essentials When Conducting a Survey

April 7, 2017

Conducting surveys can be a tricky business, to get the most of the results and to ensure the survey is valuable and successful you must get a few essentials right…
1.Preparation is key!
What do you want to achieve from your survey, how will you be using the results, what is it you actually need to know! All these are essential elements of preparing for your survey
2.Who to Target?
Who do you need to target, which consumer group, businesses, industries, size of companies, job titles…the real question is who is most capable of answering your questions, who holds that knowledge you need for your survey? Once you know this you know who your targets are.
3.How to conduct your survey
With email, phone, online, social media, even snail mail they all have their advantages. You need to decide where your target respondents are, where they like to conduct business and where they are most likely to respond. Its no good sending a survey to 70+ year olds via email, the majority of 70/80/90 year olds do not have a computer never mind an email address! (this is a generalisation please do not be offended if you are 70 and have an iPad!) Other considerations here include costs, time pressures and resources and will sway your direction.
4.Sample Size
So how many people do you want responses from? You do not want too small a sample size as the results can be swayed by one or two people and the results may be skewed. However too large and you may see costs spiral out of control, you need to analysis this information at the end remember! Your sample may need to represent the population for example, so perhaps you need a percentage of 18-24 year olds that live in the North of England. What are these statistics and where can you find them. Perhaps its SME’s with a certain turnover in a certain industry, you need professional reliable data to ensure you are allowed to contact everyone legally (Telephone Preference Survey and CPTS etc comes into play here). If your data is wrong you results will be too.
5.Consider a pre-test
It can be useful to conduct a handful of surveys to begin with to judge how the questions are perceived and how the results are looking. You may need to tweak your survey at this point, make your mistakes here it is less costly!
6.Content and Design
The platform you have chosen to deliver your survey (phone, online etc) will have an effect here. A phone survey will be less visual as it will need to be easy understood when spoke. With online or written surveys you may want to include graphics and more visual representation to fully gain the most from the respondent. Remember to keep the layout simple and number the questions it will help the respondent and you later down the line (analysis!).
7.Keep it short!
The longer the survey the less willing people are to give you their time. In this day and age time is a valuable commodity and no one has hours spare to help you conduct your market research. Short, simple, successful is a great mantra to live by when it comes to surveys!
8.Develop your questions
Avoid using open questions for everything, when it comes to analysis you will have a nightmare trying to collate the results into a readable format. Some questions may need to be spontaneous but others will need promoting or you may want to look at specific attributes. Every respondent needs to be able to read the question and understand what it means, in the same way. Do not included unnecessary questions they all must lead back to your original objectives (see preparation!). Closed questions (yes/no) and scaling questions are useful (on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the strongest what do you think…). BEWARE of creating biased questions, let someone else look over your questions critically so an question is leading or assuming, vague or confusing, negatively phrased questions or redundant questions. Let someone outside of your industry look over the questions for a truly unbiased true opinion.
9.Conducting the Survey
Does the order of the questions make sense and flow easily? Start with the most interesting and relevant questions before moving onto the more boring ones, it will ensure people have the mentality of ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’. When distributing the survey (which will depend on your chosen method…online, phone etc.) remember you will need reminders and follow ups to increase the respondent rate. Often incentives are used with promotions and ‘win this’ campaigns to get the right people to complete the survey. Note: paper surveys have the lowest response rates, online surveys are the easiest to analyse…but does this fit with your target audience??
10.Analysing the results
You will need to think about your data profile, who did you receive responses from? Where they your target respondents? Crunch the numbers and find out! Analysis each question as its own entity, it will be part of a whole but need to stand on its own to link to your objectives (because remember every question you have asked is relevant to your objections…what you want to find out..no waffle questions for the sake of it!). Always report the results well and make the data visible, the specifics are most important!

Finally…USE THE RESULTS! Don’t go through the whole process to scan through the results and not implicate any of the findings within your business. Remember the reason you needed the market research in the first instance and make it count.

If you need any assistance with your next market research project we, of course, are happy to help!

# surveys #marketresearch #The4Group

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