Tag Archives: online panels

Top 10 qSample Blog Posts of 2015


January is the month of awards shows, football playoffs and navigating Jack Frost. For businesses, January is commonly the month of recapping the previous quarters and auguring the new year. We’ve scribed our crystal ball at qSample when it comes to market survey methodology trends; but please allow us to present our top articles of 2015. None of these may get an Oscar—unless Steve Harvey replaces Chris Rock as the host of the Academy Awards—but you might find some actionable marketing insights in your Mad Max research adventures.

Survey says!

  1. Advantages and Disadvantages of Mobile Surveys

Mobile Surveys Advantages and disavantages featuredBeing transparent is an integral part of any firm wishing to survive in the panoptic internet era. The same goes for being mobile. The article proffered the perils and opportunities of mobile surveys. From smartphones to tablets, from GPS benefits to millennial tendencies, we covered ample data real estate before marketers consider mobile survey for research. With estimates having mobile surveys nearing 50% in 2016, these findings should not be ignored.


  1. Boosting Response Rates: Crafting the Perfect Survey Invitation Email

mail-reply-allEveryone wants that magic bullet for a clickable email subject line. This article provides that within the context of how to write a survey invitation email. It’s not a short piece, fortunately, providing specific examples and expert insights into getting noticed in a world that sends and receives approximately 108 billion emails a day.


  1. The Dark Side of Social Media Just Got Darker

Woman despondent while looking at social media on smartphoneSure, this is the golden age of the internet, but light must cast shadow throughout the cosmos of cat memes and listicles. This content provides the latest research on the negative effects of being constantly plugged into social media—from emotional addiction to mental fragmentation. Some of the alarming findings employ qSample’s primary research—like the disturbing reality social media users earn less than those who mainly socialize in meatspace. The post also offers solutions to the dangers of hyperconnectivity.


  1. The 5 Best Books on Market Research

Five books on market researchOutside of academic tomes, few bona fide market research books can be found online or otherwise. That’s one reason this evergreen post remains popular. We deal with market research from historical, theoretical and actionable perspectives, hoping it has made marketers better because by this. If not, we also presented The 7 Best Market Research Podcasts.


  1. The Pros and Cons of Surveys

????????????Another article on the significance of transparency. However, it doesn’t exactly show the negatives aspects of online surveys, but more like what best practices to conduct when involved in internet quantitative projects. Let’s face it: it’s a competitive industry with a glut of online surveys (some statistics have survey participations rates at a paltry two percent). This kind of information is vital for market research in 2016.


  1. The Growing Idealism of Ivy League Graduates

Group of executives under a glowing Ivy League BannerqSample has worked with many great universities on many great projects, the Ivy League members being a meaningful one. In data we trust, as we say here, and the data led to the reality that Ivy League Graduates are as altruistic as they are holistic. With a median household income of over $190,000 and a median net worth of $900,000, marketers should always pay heed to Ivy League graduates as they do Millennials and Baby Boomers.


  1. Mind Blowing Studies About Pets and their Owners

Mind blowing studies about pets and their ownersWe cherish our pet owner and veterinary proprietary panels, almost as much as the world cherishes their pets. The article throws it all together for intriguing insights into the world of pets and their owners. We even afford an infographic with Garfield and Odie as your hosts.



  1. The Man Who Predicted the Internet & Today’s Media Landscape 

Man's eye before digital, amber numbers cascadingNo, it wasn’t David Bowie or Alan Rickman, as much as we miss them. It was a Canadian academic who during the 60s was a genuine hippy celebrity in the same vein as Joseph Campbell or Andy Warhol. This individual’s pioneering research prophesized our current digital world with scholastic and philosophical accuracy. He also coined the terms “surfing” (in the context of media) and “Global Village.” Click and find out who this cat was, and no, it wasn’t Glen Fry either.


  1. Infographic of the Week: Dogs vs. Cats, The Great Debate

Untitled Banner (1)The perennial confrontation between two popular pets is more gripping than that of Aliens versus Predators or Brady versus Manning. Not only did we present a nice visual, but a SlideShare was included to maximize a very important debate. On what side you find yourself on might depend on what’s in your market research wallet.

  1. 20 Overused Marketing Terms that Need to Go 

Frustrated man hitting screen because of so many overused marketing buzzwordsIt’s hard not to get caught up in buzzwords, especially if they make us look good during meetings, conferences or blog posts. Marketers tend to take these terms to dizzying heights, and it gets annoying. The piece offers warnings for those who would “leverage” too many seemingly “robust” words in their efforts to “partner” with their clients for sales. Just stop it.




qSample is proud of its content, but only satisfied if it serves our readers and clients. This list hopefully does just this and more. We shall continue to bring you even better content in 2016, even as we “leverage” more transparency and market research insights. And win Miss Universe along the way…


infographic with a list of market research trends in squares

Survey Incentives: The Key To The Promised Land Of Quality Data


Incentives make the market research world go around. At least they should, especially when it comes to managing and distilling quality data from online panels. Many marketers make the mistake of assuming the population is peaches and cream when it comes to participating in research projects. They assume consumers join market research surveys out of some grand altruism or because they love sharing their opinion on a brand or service.

How wrong they are. As a matter of fact, not only are incentives key to parting the seas of sample for satisfactory survey response rates, especially with harder-to-reach demographics, how they are positioned and framed make a difference.


The data on getting good data by using incentives in online surveys


As we have reported, online surveys are as vast as the stars these days, vying for the notice of an online consumer world with the attention span of a goldfish (nine seconds for humans, eight seconds for goldfish…in case you wanted to know). Some studies have survey participation rates averaging a mighty 2%. Between the locust-storms of surveys and the ADD mentality of internet shoppers, feedback fatigue has come down on consumers like a plague.

Then there is the cold, hard data supporting the benefits of respondent rewards. Studies have shown that incentives will normally lift response rates by 10-15%.

Furthermore, the Market Research Association presents these benefits of survey incentives:

Overall improvement of response rates
– Improved response rates from hard-to-reach groups
– Increase efficiency, especially when it comes to non-response follow-ups


Types of survey incentives


There are various traditional incentives for online research. Some are not guaranteed to every participant, only available for the first of a specified amount of individuals. But here they are:

Electronic gift cards and coupon codes. I just did one the other day—a dollar off in the form of a discount code, just for filling out an online survey for Peet’s Coffee. The only downside of this type of incentive feature might be a respondent’s email spam filter or lack of text message capabilities on a phone.

Physical cards or gifts. That would be the standard Amazon gift card or iPad. These are more commonplace for highly specialized sample like heart surgeons or Egyptian pharaohs wanting to avoid plagues.

Cash incentives. This reward is becoming less prevalent with survey companies, even for those using dedicated sample, but nothing wrong with them when appropriate. God invented PayPal for a reason….or at least the demigod Elon Musk.

Feedback incentives. Companies with smaller budgets utilize this type of participant reward. Instead of a gift or discount, a respondent receives a special piece of information or even content that he or she might find beneficial. Some companies utilize gamification as the reward for being in a survey study.

Drawings. The respondent is eligible to win a prize, plain and simple. If you’re like me, you’re still waiting for that CVS shopping spree.

In case you’re wondering: Research points to cash rewards being the best form of incentive.


The best way for respondent incentives to work


Marketers should understand one very important notion: Promised incentives are not as effective as enclosed incentives. For example, researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs found that the promise of a $5.00 cash incentive up front increased response rates by 50%.

Another crucial factor to remember when dealing with respondent incentives is that the rewards are not a form of bribe or call for submission. Incentives are based on the social exchange model (or theory), which according to a psychologist means:

Social exchange theory proposes that social behavior is the result of an exchange process. The purpose of this exchange is to maximize benefits and minimize costs.

In essence, respondents are participating equally with you in your research, the most valuable commodity their time. This notion not only can assist in determining the size of the incentive but the very quality and length of a questionnaire.

As one marketer put it:

Avoid assuming time and effort too casually; your perception may not reflect reality for the average participant. We tend to assign far more intrinsic rewards to participating in market research as market researchers, and we underestimate the time and effort it takes others to complete our surveys.

Lastly on the social exchange model, too high of a reward may appear like a bribe to many respondents. In other words, so save the new Lamborghinis for a niche focus group.

And lastly on this section, incentives are often injected into a study when participation rates just aren’t reaching an adequate level. Even if you don’t feel incentives are necessary for an in-home study, you can always change your mind midflight.




How much of an incentive be provided for a market research survey depends on the company’s budget, the type of sample, and the ability to deliver a reward. Online sample providers like qSample employ an established program of incentives that keep panels available and engaged. On the other hand, survey software companies should be able to consult with you and your research needs.

In the end, it’s your call but it’s a call that should consider some form of incentive. This consideration will get you closer to the promised land of quality data, with or without a goldfish.

incentives for online research part the way for quality data

2016 Tech That Will Make You A Market Research Blade Runner

In a fast-moving online culture, it seems like we’re always catching up to the next tech advance…or at least waiting eagerly for the next smartphone upgrade. In reality, though, technological innovations are a logical and natural continuum—sometimes long in the making and slow in the perfecting.

This progress could be the case for market research in 2016. Several technologies might finally bear fruit, though, instead of remaining as forbidden fruit no one can touch.

The issue is whether researchers notice instead of lingering in the already-halcyon days of phone polls and paper surveys.

Nobody knows that answer except 2017. In the meantime, here are some of the technologies that could potentially influence market researchers in 2016 (and this list is a suitable companion to our recent Market Research Trends To Follow In 2016 Or Die).

Eye-tracking technology: It’s doubtful this will make you a Blade Runner running around with the Voight-Kampff test, gleefully exposing Replicants trying to migrate to Earth. Yet this technology will get you much closer to deciphering participants’ intimate motivations in qualitative projects.

Eye-tracking technology is not only becoming accurate but also cost-effective, not something only the Tyrell Corporation can afford. As we reported:

The idea of eye-tracking technology on smartphone screens and other mobile technology was once deemed too pricey. This is no longer the case, with companies already offering eye-tracking technology for home devices at under $100. Samsung, as an example in the marketplace, has incorporated eye-tracking technology for a variety of its mobile products.

Automation: The word “automation” probably unnerves many researchers. It does evoke a notion of losing control, and that traditionally translates into wayward data. Yet companies with automating capabilities in their survey software—such as our sister company QuestionPro—can assist gaining insightful snapshots of consumers, as well as quick and often real-time feedback from respondents.

By no means does automation replace a robust research project or nurtured sample. Nevertheless, automation is beneficial for companies seeking “to find efficiencies similar to those enjoyed by media planners and campaign analysts.”

Quick, economical and easy when you need it…

Mobile: At qSample, it seems we’ve been beating this dead horse all 2015. It’s just too important of a stallion to ignore. Some have predicted online surveys completed from mobile devices to approach 50% in 2016.

Don’t get left behind like the career of Nicholas Cage after he did Left Behind.

Big Data: Sorry, but nothing to here see here, kids. Wait until 2017. Please let me repeat the quote from our executive that exemplifies what Big Data truly is:

It’s like teen sex. Everyone talks about it, everyone wants to do it, everyone thinks they know it, but no one is doing it.

If that’s not enough, here is telling research from Adobe explaining that “companies that embrace creative marketing are 3.5 times more likely to see their annual sales revenue grow by 10 percent or more compared with companies that exclusively rely on big data.”

Stay human, my friend.

Social Media Research: Social Media has been around almost as long as Big Data, but at least the former may potentially be harnessed in 2016 by market research. Sure, the age of organic social media is gone; yet that just means that companies like Facebook can corral their demographics in far more tidy ways. It’s a matter of market research listening better and leveraging automation in the right way for real-time data mining (and again, not replacing traditional research projects but complementing them).

As Fernando Anzures, Liquid Thinking Group CEO, recently said:

From Fan Pages to Brand Communities, it’s time for brands to go further and use social influence to create real conversations between brands and ambassadors. Co-creation at the center of social interaction. Social Media at the center of market research. Moving from ethnography to netnography, every aspect of a brand will be observed and determined by monitoring human behavior on social media.

Honorable mentions: Virtual Reality, wearables, and the Internet of Things. These three technologies will likely boom in the next year and beyond—or at the very least blossom—and already they have become vehicles for a sensible amount of market research.

In the meantime, don’t pass up the mentioned technologies in 2016. If not, even the Tyrell Corporation will not be able to save your data slipping away like a Replicant after a badly-conducted Voight-Kampff test.

1982 --- Harrison Ford on the set of "Blade Runner", directed by Ridley Scott. --- Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

Market Research Trends To Follow In 2016 Or Die


Okay, the headline might be a tad sensationalistic. Your market research position is probably as safe as the video store or the phonebook. But just in case, palpable trends loom in 2016 that require your attention. These shifts  will alter the landscape of market research—and perhaps to infinity and beyond (depending on the data).


Surveys Will Have To Be Better


The online survey business is booming like a Star Wars box office. It seems everyone is getting in on that quantitative action. Many tech giants are now offering integrated surveys, the latest example being Twitter and its nascent Twitter Polls. The field is getting crowded.

What’s more, budget-conscious companies are demanding surveys in the name of caution. The result is a watering-down effect. As we reported, this is causing participation rates to drop, with some studies “showing participation rates averaging 2 percent.”

We’re not alone in our findings. Market research veteran Leonard Murphy recently wrote:

Market research surveys are increasingly alienating customers and citizens. As a consequence, response rates for commercial market research are fast reducing below 1%. This means most surveys annoy people and it means they are reflecting the views of a tiny minority.

Between online surveys becoming akin to Nigerian email spam and every company deparment potentially having the ability to provide polls, the solution is not desperation at the glut but just a better, more customer-exciting execution from market researchers.

The question many in the industry are concerned with is not whether surveys are dying, but, as one market researcher put it: “Who will own surveys within the organization in 5 years from now: Marketers, Technologists or Market Researchers?”

I’m betting on market researchers who take this article to heart.


Market Research Will Be More Human


Advances in technology should not mean a less humane approach. After all, tech giants like Amazon or Apple seem to increase customer experience with every tech evolutionary step. The same should go with market research.

In his GreenBook article, Are You Alienating Your Customers With Spam Surveys? Ray Poynter details the robotic attitude of market researchers. Drawing upon data and thought leaders, he proposes two obvious way to improve the industry:

Treating customers like people
Engaging with customers over time

That certainly goes for sample providers. The GreenBook Research Industry Trends Report states that only 40% of researchers are very or completely satisfied with their provider.

We all gotta step it up. (Although, to be fair, at qSample we’re ahead by being a boutique company with an always direct pipeline of communication to our clients).


Market Research Goes Fully Mobile


Everyone has been saying it, but it’s time to fully accept it. More Americans are using mobile devices to browse the internet than on PC’s; and already 60% of cell phones are smartphones. The data will only tilt more in 2016. We’ve written extensively about the advantages and trending of mobile surveys.

As market researcher JD Deitch wrote on the important of going mobile (also in GreenBook):

Research buyers, if you’re still running long desktop-only studies, you are a fundamental cause of this problem. Blaming your suppliers for the quality of their panelists is like blaming the bartender for your hangover. I get that the change is difficult, but unless you really don’t care about people under 35 or moms with kids or ethnic minorities, you’re increasingly buying junk. This has to be part of the 2016 plan.

I can’t think of anything to add to this quote, except to quote Deitch again in the article, who said that all research should be “device agnostic and optimized for mobile by design.”

Just like every website will be by the end of 2016.


Market Research Will Still Be Talking About Big Data


There was a lot of this palaver in 2015, but no actionable illustrations from market research. It looks to be 2017 before Big Data can make even a small difference.

Big Data is still just too big and too costly, unless you’re Microsoft, IBM or Tylor Swift’s wallet.

Take, for example, the words of research executive Annie Pettit:

Big data caught the attention of market researchers and the search for people who know statistics and data and consumers is now full steam ahead. Given that big data is massively relevant to our clients in that it is their consumers, their data, and their intelligence, we need to be ready to merge insights from traditional research with insights from big data.

That’s a lot of talk leading nowhere…

One of our executives, I feel, put it best when it comes to Big Data:

It’s like teen sex. Everyone talks about it, everyone wants to do it, everyone thinks they know it, but no one is doing it.

Like I said…2017…


Market Research Will Focus On Experience And Convenience


The points mentioned above on customer treatment and survey experience should be enough to understand this notion. To highlight this idea even more, take the words of qualitative marketer Rhiannon Price:

Market research is founded on unpicking human character, but this has perhaps become a little lost as research and respondents have become more and more commoditized.

The issue is broader and more prevalent. In our recent breakfast with Google, one of the tech giant’s marketers told us in essence that “consumers are now more convenience-loyal than brand-loyal. Making it easy for consumers to find and buy your product is imperative.”

The same goes with respondents.

Consumers (and respondents) want an experience as much as a product—as much as they want convenience more than a brand. As Eye Faster CEO Kirk Hendrickson recently stated

Retailers are focusing more on what goes on while their customers are in the store and focusing research efforts on the entire experience as opposed to interactions with a given product or category.

As many market researchers have predicted, the lines between qualitative and quantitative are blurring, often on the screens of a mobile device held in a store aisle.

In short, the proverbial journey matters as much as the proverbial destination.




Experience, Mobile, humanity…these overarching themes will continue to sparkle in 2016. They are all interrelated. One could add video, but that’s part of the mobile era. Regardless, keep this in mind and you won’t be the next video store owner—alone and unemployed in Greenland,  moping about and talking about…Big Data perhaps?

The Advantages of Mobile Research

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Consumers Not Jolly About Shopping This Holiday Season (qSample Study)

Santa Claus asleep by a pile of gifts


It’s getting to look a lot like Christmas…at least in the minds of retailers eager to race into the black as the Holiday Season gears up. With a seemingly improving economy, many businesses expect a robust increase in sales this year.

Will their Yule wishes be granted?

Not likely, based on qSample’s syndicated study. Christmas shoppers appear to be stuck in neutral from 2014, in many ways. The primary research was conducted utilizing our general population online panel. More than 300 respondents participated. The findings agree with the National Retail Federation, which sees holiday sales tepid in 2015 (even if it’s estimated that Holiday sales will total $630 billion).

Almost half of surveyed respondents (49%) claimed they would spend the same amount on gifts as last year. Twenty percent said they would spend more, while 24% plan to spend less in 2015. As the National Retail Federation forecasts, holiday sales will only increase by 3.5% from the previous year, the lowest raise since 2010.

That’s a “Ba Humbug!” if it holds true.


Reasons why consumers are resistant to spending


Why holiday spending seems to be sputtering could be due to a negative perception of the economy. However, that doesn’t conform with the study’s results. Thirty-seven percent of respondents claimed to be positive about the economy this Holiday Season. The same margin of respondents (37%) felt that the economy was the same this time last year, with 25% stating they felt negative towards the economy.

The data could reflect a “what and see” attitude for consumers, who are neither excited nor concerned about economic realities or opportunities. It will likely mean more work for vendors to entice shoppers once Black Friday comes and goes. That will be a hard task, it appears, as 40% of respondents plan on spending between $100 and $500 on gifts, while only 20% will spend more than $500 during the Holiday Season.


Other difficulties for sellers


A further startling takeaway is the notion that tech will rule the Holiday shopping world. It doesn’t seem to be the case, or the vision of expensive iPhones and Samsung Ultra’s flying off the shelves. According to the study, devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers and tech accessories come in sixth place for all preferred gift categories. Other technology like televisions or home appliances ranks even lower. Here is the breakdown:

1. Clothing (21%)
2. Gift Cards (19%)
3. Toys (14%)
4. Cash (13%)
5. Home decoration/products (11%)
6. Mobile technology (9%)
7. General technology (televisions, home appliances, etc.) (7%)
8. Other (6%)

As for shopping preferences, a majority in the study (37%) plan on using both online and stores as their preferred method of shopping (with 25% shopping online and 29% going to stores exclusively). Less than one percent said they would use catalogs to buy gifts.

The hospitality and airline industries might not fare better than retailers in 2015. Sixty-eight percent of respondents claimed they would not travel during this Holiday Season, while 54% said they plan on going out for celebrations and parties at the same rate as 2014.

Everything could be stuck in neutral this Holiday Season, even stress levels. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said that they feel the same levels of stress during any given Holiday Season. The largest source of stress are finances (27%), with shopping itself coming in second (20%) and family in third(15%). Dieting was considered the least source of stress (six percent), but it’s reasonable to think that number will go up as the new year approaches.




Clearly, these numbers could shift as the Holiday Season gains more velocity and retailers get creative (and desperate) in their marketing efforts in the latter part of December. However, it seems that, like the economy, Holiday shopping will be neither good nor bad in monetary terms.

Yet when it comes to retailers across the country, average usually equates with having coal in a stocking.

Holiday Shopping Infographic 2015


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Baby Boomers Love Social Media And Tech (Video & Infographic)

Elderly couple using smartphone for a selfie

One of the enemies of market research could easily be conventional wisdom. Perception becomes reality often in the public flow, but that reality is far removed from accurate data. That is how we got the Edsel, Pepsi Clear, Robin Thicke and other poorly-researched products that at one point just seemed…conventionally wise?

At qSample, our research has combatted conventional wisdom for the betterment of clients. Our research showed, before its release, that the Apple Watch would flounder. It also revealed that Millennials are an economic yet altruistic force, today’s college students are not that stressed out, and Ivy League graduates are quite idealistic.

No, we don’t have a preference for the younger generation. Our many specialty panels prove this. As a matter of fact, this week we move into the golden years and focus on baby boomers. Since they make up 42% of the adult population, market researchers should evermore pay heed to their consumer needs.

When it comes to embracing these modern times, baby boomers are far from Sophia in Golden Girls. Here are some examples:

 47% own a smartphone
–  72% have broadband in their homes
  27.4 million engage in some form of social media
  They prefer LinkedIn the most, with Facebook coming in second (don’t even worry about this, Snapchat)
 82% research wellness and health information online

Baby boomers are also very socially-conscious. But talk is cheap and conventional wisdom is seductive, so we the skinny on baby boomers in both video and infographic.

Enjoy, and let us know if you need one of our specialty panels for that accurate data needed in your market research or Robin Thicke playlist. Here is the video:

And here is the infographic:

http://blog.qsample.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Baby-Boomers-Go-Green-1-Final.png, http://blog.qsample.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/4-Senses-of-Buying-Decisions-3-1.png

what makes consumers buy green products graphic

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The Five Greatest Survey Questions Ever

Author Thomas Pynchon wrote: “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”

This quote is socially charged. Nevertheless, in this or any event, market research comes to the rescue. Asking the right question is central to the industry—part of the continued epic of understanding the intimate desires and motivations of various demographics.

qSample has provided research on keeping questionnaires for surveys as concise and straightforward as possible—all to understand the complex behaviors of humans.

Effective questionnaires are especially vital in an era where mobile devices erode both time and space for executing surveys. The mobile ecosystem is just smaller and consumer attentions spans are getting shorter. Mobile surveys are on the rise, so it’s prudent to embrace this new tech normal. As one market researcher put it:

The trend is clear that more and more surveys are being taken on smartphones and tablets. Desktop computers still account for the majority of responses, but for any given project market researchers can now expect up to 40% response on smartphones. This percentage will likely continue to increase in coming years.

So keep it simple, and start with simple. As Leonardo da Vinci once said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

To assist with this approach for suitable marketing questionnaires, thought leaders in marketing have revealed essentially questions that can become the cornerstone for any type of survey (and beyond).


1.  What’s happening in your life that brought you here today?


This wording is found in noted copywriter Joanna Wiebbe’s book, Where Stellar Messages Come From. You can modify this open-ended question depending on your brand or forum. It may seem odd in a provided online survey, but the phrasing can be edited to inquire at what brought a person to a particular store or website.

The question is most effective in brief pop-up surveys, though. It takes an immediate snapshot of an individual’s state of mind, as well as how it relates to a brand. Information about a social media link or frustration at another product bringing them to your fiefdom can be pure gold.


2.  Were you able to complete your task today?


This straightforward inquiry also unlocks several dimensions of a respondent or potential customer. As bestselling author and marketing guru, Avinash Kaushik, states in his blog:

An extremely simple question that asks the survey takers to self report their own perception of your website’s effectiveness in helping them complete their tasks….We have the customers voice telling us exactly how well the website is performing when it comes to delivering the goods.

Again, this can be applied to surveys. It’s surveying the survey. Market researchers should always be auditing their own work, and who better than their respondents fresh in the study.


3.  Would you recommend us to a friend?


This question may sound obvious, yet marketers sometimes miss this elephant in the research room.

In fact, there might not be another better question in marketing. Bestselling loyalty expert Fred Reichheld agrees with this, calling it the ultimate question. He expands this notion fully in his book entitled (surprise) The Ultimate Question.

As with the other questions and repeating myself, the wording and context may be altered to suit the needs of the brand.

Sean D’Souza of Copyblogger offers some variable and follow-ups:

– What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?
– What did you find as a result of buying this product?
– What specific feature did you like most about this product?
– What would be three other benefits about this product?
– Would you recommend this product? If so, why?
– Is there anything you’d like to add?

No, I can’t add anything else to the sound advice in this section.


4.  Any question that isn’t just yes/no or either/or


Not allowing options like “I don’t know” or an open-ended space in survey questionnaires is dangerously close to a leading question. Some experts say it is a leading question.

Inc.’s Jeff Haden is one such example:

Either/or questions, just like leading questions, assume some answer. Instead of sharing options, just state the problem. Then ask “What do you think?” Or “What would you do?” Or “How should we handle this?

Haden further states there is always an undisclosed option, an idea researchers might be missing, and it’s important to leave a space to let it flow out of respondents.


5.  The questions you ask yourself before the survey


This thought leadership insight comes from qSample’s own president, Rudly Raphael. He states: “In my opinion, there are three questions that a researcher should ask before any study.” These are:

Who is your audience?
What is the objective of your survey/research?
– What are your biases (and what can you do to avoid them from polluting) the survey?

In other words, you have to know yourself as intimately as you expect to know your audience. If you assume you don’t have a bias, according to Raphael, you probably do and it’s time you get some feedback on others in the company or project.




These five questions (or more like question narratives) incorporate the same the keynotes: empathy, directness and engagement. They tend to spark the best possible data from respondents.

They can also be utilized by sales people.

Obviously, market researchers are required to mine deeper and into other spectrums of the respondent’s mind. As Raphael says:

The best questions for online surveys are challenging because it depends on the topic. Researchers design surveys for a myriad of a myriad of verticals like products, services, intelligence, etc. An IT question about network adapters will not be helpful to someone writing a finance survey.

Nevertheless, these questions serve as cornerstones for surveys or at least tools for that essential simplicity in a mobile era.

They are the right questions to gaining the right answers in your research.

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Infographic: 3 Aspects Of A Valid Online Survey

Simplicity and validity. Those two elements make life vibrant, and they pertain to market research. Let’s add visual, and with that trinity your research can potentially be nicely rewarding.

This may seem poetic overkill when it comes to online surveys, but it’s actually essential. As qSample has presented, online survey responses rates are lower than ever, with some studies showing participation rates equating 2%. Additionally, there are more online surveys provided than ever; as an example, Mindshare Technologies conducts 60 million surveys per year, which is a rate of 175,000 a day.

So it’s simple and valid: it’s more competitive than ever and questionnaires need to be as engaging as possible.

The trinity of visual, valid and simple is what we present to you, in an infographic based on our primary and secondary research on implementing suitable online surveys.

I’ll keep it simple and let you at it:

3 Aspects of a Valid Online Survey Infographic


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The Looming Online Survey Crisis…and One Way to Avoid It

Woman covering her face at fear of online survey on computer

Online surveys, the final frontier. Okay, maybe they’re not, but they seem to be as endless as the stars these days—with every brand asking for feedback after a purchase or service.

That’s not surprising. Online research has become the preferred data collection method for market research. The Internet and Mobile Eras have made it easier and cost-effective to reach customer bases.

What also might not be surprising is that online surveys may be faltering as a research method, and the solutions have to do with what we do here at qSample.

With that semi-shameless plug out of the way, the predicament of online surveys is presented in a penetrating article by David R. Wheeler in The Week.

The piece is entitled The rising revolt against customer surveys. Here are some of the startling takeaways hinting to trouble in online survey heaven:

According to one study, phone survey cooperation rates have plummeted from 43 percent in 1997 to 14 percent in 2012. Online survey responses rates are even lower, with some studies showing participation rates averaging 2 percent.

Wheeler’s research is partly supported by a recent Pew Research Center study. It states that telephone poll response rates fell from 36% in 1997 to 9% this decade. This is highlighted in this graph:

graph of telephone poll participation

So what’s the problem? At first, one might think the issue is oversaturation, as so many companies can afford online surveys. Wheeler even says:

In more recent times, as scientific methods developed, surveys became the data collection method of choice for government, academia, and businesses. Response rates peaked between 1960 and 1990, followed by a precipitous fall, partly because of the exponential rise in survey requests in the internet era. One survey firm, ForeSee, conducts about a million surveys per month. Meanwhile, Mindshare Technologies conducts 60 million surveys every year — that’s a mind-boggling 175,000 per day.

With participation rates dropping and online surveys spamming, what is occurring is that only respondents in the extreme spectrums are engaging. If only those who truly love or deeply hate your brand are sharing their viewpoints, logically it’s going to hinder survey data.

However, oversaturation really can’t be blamed. After all, everything is saturated on the Internet. That hasn’t harmed companies with determination and astuteness.

The problem, as Wheeler sees and we agree, is that a lack of incentives is preventing online research the ability to cull respondents in the middle of spectrums.

Simply put: if you don’t give people a reason to participate, they simply won’t, especially in a crowded online field. Many people these days suffer from what is known as “feedback fatigue,” where they’re weary and numb of being asked to judge a brand or service after a purchase.

Marketers rationalize that improving their brand for the customer is enough incentive to take online surveys. But that’s obviously not flying anymore by the data.

Wheeler also posits that higher management has become too enamored with machine-gun quantitative research, always trying to coax the right numbers from studies before the next board meeting or end of the quarter. Additionally, he doesn’t see the “drawing prize” incentive as particularly effective. I mean, does anyone know anyone who has won the $2000-in-products drawing for participating in a CVS online survey?

In the end, though, incentivizing is key and will surely improve market research. Studies have shown that incentives “will typically lift response rates by 10-15%.”

Furthermore, an article from the Marketing Research Association states:

Careful experimentation has shown that respondent incentives can improve a survey’s quality and efficiency. In particular, incentives can:

Improve the response rate: Incentives have been found to significantly increase the proportion of the sample that is willing to participate, ensuring a large enough sample to draw generalizations.
Improve response from hard-to-reach groups. Incentives can get the attention of individuals who would normally not participate in the survey, significantly improving the survey’s measurement quality. In particular, they can help improve representativeness in survey response from low-population rural areas — essential to the inclusion of rural voices in federal decisions.
Increase efficiency. Incentives reduce costly and time-consuming non-response follow-up, which can include dozens of call-backs and in-person visits, and may even reduce the study’s cost.

In other, more uncomplicated words: reward and have your research rewarded.

This doesn’t mean offer respondents an Anston Martin for each questionnaire participation. There are sensible rewards a company can offer. They just take some imagination. For example, Starbucks often rewards Gold Member respondents with a bonus Star that gets them closer to a complimentary drink.

Or make sure to utilize an online survey provider that maintains incentivized sample.

At qSample, we continually recompense our panels. They are recruited voluntarily through various online and conference means. They aren’t asked to participate for the “good” of anything, nor will they ever have to worry about a drawing for some smartphone or Amazon gift card. Their time is valuable, and so should the time of any of your respondents—whether you conduct research in-house or contract an online survey provider.

Time is the most valuable commodity we have. Make your respondents’ time worth it with incentives. That will be a final frontier you’ll enjoy reaching.

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Video: Mobile vs Online Research (which one is best for you?)

We take a break from our regularly-scheduled weekly infographic to bring you a breaking video. Or more like a video that might make or break your market research in these evolving digital times. As I’ve mentioned before, online research has become the preferred method of analysis for the marketing industry. The rise of mobile technology offers yet one more dimension for market researchers.

Smartphones make up 67 % of the mobile market and 41% of  research suppliers already utilize mobile surveys. The future may not be exactly now, but it’s getting very now, so understanding the advantages and disadvantages of mobile surveys is imperative.

One of qSample’s specialties is mobile research. We’ve partnered with such companies as Microsoft to execute leading mobile research projects. Since that puts us ahead of the proverbial curve, we enjoy sharing our experiences and insights to assist others in market research.

As always, we hope this continues to assist you:

If you get a chance, please visit our YouTube Channel. Dr. Who, Bladerunner, The Matrix and Matthew McConaughey all endorse…okay, they sorta make an appearance. Regardless, the channel is ripe with data on all things market research and more.


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