Tag Archives: surveys

Seven Sins to Avoid When Designing a Survey

A year ago, we published a series of best practice for questionnaire development. This year, we would like to highlight some common mistakes that research practitioners should avoid, to ensure their data collection effort is not wasted. We are calling them The Seven Deadly Sins Of Questionnaire Design. The Seven Deadly Sins emerged from an ecclesiastic era, and since then have evolved as broader ethic markers for those who prefer disinfected consciences. Gwyneth Paltrow lost her head over them in the movie Seven, and the secular world has incorporated them as business credos (an example being The Seven Deadly Sins of Management, from the Harvard Business Review).

As long as people are dropping the ball in their professions, the Seven Deadly Sins work as a values template. They certainly work in market research, specifically when it comes to designing online survey questionnaires. Without a heavenly questionnaire, a survey will plunge into the deepest recesses of hell.

Below are the Seven Deadly Sins of Questionnaire Design that every researcher should avoid.

LUST

You are passionate about your project. You let that lust pollute your wording, even allow bias to possess the questions like a Linda Blair dream. Sometimes you don’t even know you’re doing it! As one research expert put it: “Bias is the mortal enemy of all surveys, and as a survey creator, it’s important to guard against it to make sure you get reliable results.”

To avoid this Hades, keep your language neutral and dry; employ a sensible number of opt-outs and open-ended questions; and make sure you use a second and even third set of eyes while crafting questions.

GLUTTONY

You crave that data or have a reprehensible voracity for it. You write an extremely long questionnaire, which ultimately results in crappy data collection.  You ignore the fact that respondents don’t care much for long, boring surveys, or your greediness for the data causes tunnel vision in your data collection methodology.

As some of our own research has shown, respondent fatigue sets in after 20 minutes of a survey. This may result in respondents exerting less effort and spending less time thinking about their answers as they journey deeper into the survey. A survey over 35 minutes is an indicator that your craving for data is approaching its peak with little consideration for the survey participant.

Some had predicted that online surveys completed from mobile devices would approach 50%. In an era where mobile devices are displacing computers, long survey questionnaires are just a sin.

SLOTH

Put it simply, edit, edit, edit! Mistakes won’t make you look slothful to respondents, just demonic. Furthermore, on the side effects of sloth, a good research practitioner explained:

But the problem is rarely “bad respondents” – instead the problem is lazy researchers.  When people discover that the survey they just agreed to take is boring, tedious, repetitive, or too long, they either quit altogether or they stop providing good answers. As I’ve stated many times in the past, when it comes to data quality, the burden should always be on the researcher first.

WRATH

You want to defend your research project or the sanctity of your data. Full of wrath, you will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those unsuitable respondents who access your holy survey. Okay, maybe not Ezekiel 25:17, but you’re going to place a lot of screeners and trap questions to weed out the unfaithful.

Recent studies indicate the methodology of trap questions for surveys may not be as effective as originally thought. In reality, trap questions might have unexpected results—such as shifting the thinking of respondents to critical thinking from “optimal thinking” (that is the state of mind they reason as they normally would in daily life, which is typically necessary for reliable data).

There are other analytical ways to evaluate respondent data that don’t include placing land mines in your questionnaire.

GREED

Budgets are rarely fun, unless you’re working on the next Marvel film or you’re a Congressman(not from the state of Illinois). At the same time, a sense of greed within you assumes that the internet ought to make research economical.

Therefore, you skimp on incentives. Bad move.

Some reports claim that 175,000 online surveys are conducted a day. This volume has influenced a drop in participation rates to historic lows, which some estimates to be at 2%. On the other hand, studies have shown that the proper incentive will have a positive effect on survey response rate. We touched base on this topic on a previous blog.

This form of avarice can be avoided by rewarding your respondents properly for their time, and never assume they care about your brand as much as you do.

ENVY

Okay, you’ve done all this work and soon respondents will joyfully complete surveys, while vying for an iPad, that trip to Hawaii or Starbucks gift card. You say to yourself: “this is a lot for a 40min IDI or telephone interview and it’s all from my blood, sweat and tears”.

This attitude of envy will harm your research project. You’re not just envious, you lack empathy—the key ingredient for a successful online survey questionnaire. As stated in a previous blog, empathy is significant.

“Companies need to have more empathy for the research participant. The person(s) who writes the survey instrument should ask themselves if they could sit through that survey for 25-30 minutes. Companies should make surveys fun and engaging, regardless of the topic. They should test their surveys over and over again to identify the fatigue points in the survey. This is usually the area where data integrity is compromised.”

This quote addresses all the other deadly sins, mind you, because they all overlap. It certainly overlaps with:

PRIDE

Pride is also known as vainglory. It basically means you think you know better than everyone, including study participants. Pride has become a positive quality in western culture, but don’t let it fool you.

Pride also tends to stifle the ability to be open-minded. With all the tech innovations changing market research this year, such as eye tracking technology, social listening etc., don’t let your pride assume your ways are absolute and unchangeable.

The opposite of the Seven Deadly Sins are the Seven Heavenly Virtues. We’ll discuss them pertaining to online surveys in the future. Right now, though, avoiding the above list will likely create a paradise for your next online survey undertaking. Hell might not freeze over, but neither will your data.

The Nine Circles Of Survey Research Hell

 

When Dante Alighieri was composing the Inferno section of his epic poem, the Divine Comedy, he was surely thinking of online survey content and execution. Okay, maybe he was thinking of something else. Nonetheless, Dante’s visionary landscape of falling into a place where everything around you burns to ruin can apply to various situations. It certainly applies to how shoddy survey research can incinerate your market research.

Let’s keep it heavenly then, by avoiding these survey circle hells.

 

First Circle (Limbo)

 

 

This place (or state of being) is not that bad. It’s full of nice gardens where pagans like Plato, Virgil and Julius Caesar hang out. They never had a chance to convert to Dante’s religion, but get a pass for being notable and thus hang out in blandness for eternity.

Here on earth, that’s the problem when it comes to market research. Nothing happens. You’ve released a survey, and it’s as quiet as a Nickelback internet fan site. Response rates are low. Why is this happening?

How to get out of this hell: There are many explanations, as you will see, found by plunging deeper into the rest of the survey circle hells.

 

Second Circle (Lust)

 

 

In Dante’s poem, the condemned here float continually by the fury of strong winds. It’s an allegory of what happens when one lacks emotional control. Helen of Troy is imprisoned here, and surely Bill Clinton and Don Draper will join her in time.

For researchers: You’ve allowed your passion for the project to pollute the survey. You have a bias, and it’s often unconscious. As one researcher wrote:

One of the leading causes of misleading survey data is researcher bias that comes directly from the survey writer. This bias is sneaky. It’s caused by survey creators who innocently influence the results to reach an outcome they hope or expect to reach. It’s sneaky because survey creators are typically unaware it’s happening.

How to get out of this hell: Allow others to edit the questionnaire; keep questions concise and neutral; offer opt-out questions so other souls don’t drink (and later spew) your Kool-Aid.

 

Third Circle (Gluttony)

 

 

Here the three-headed mutt, Cerberus, makes sure that all gluttons linger in frozen, dirty slush (people in Chicago can relate when commuting in the wintertime).

For researchers: You’ve overstuffed your questionnaire. As our research reveals, respondent fatigue sets in at approximately 20 minutes of a survey. Respondent fatigue may result in respondents exerting less effort and spending less time thinking about their answers.

How to get out of this hell: Keep questionnaires as short as possible; keep your vocabulary simple or at least at the level of your audience; place important questions at the beginning.

 

Fourth Circle (Greed)

 

 

Greedy and hoarders end up stranded in this dimension, forever carrying bags of money they can never enjoy, under the control of Pluto (the Roman god of death, not Mickey’s dog).

For researchers: You’re pressured by a budget and end up skimping on respondent incentives. Bad move.

As we’ve reported, incentives have these benefits:

–  Response rates that are 10-15% higher
–  Improved response rates from hard-to-reach groups
–  Increase efficiency, especially when it comes to non-response follow-ups

How to get out of this hell: Reward your survey participants, bro. With online surveys flooding the market these days, it might not be an option—unless you want to carry around bags of non-filled surveys for Pluto.

 

Fifth Circle (Anger)

 

 

For some reason, Dante envisioned this place being the River Styx with the condemned floating on or under its icy waters. We do find a city called Dis that is about as attractive as Gary, Indiana.

For researchers: You won’t let anyone edit your survey, or you place too many trap questions (which we revealed can harm survey data—by shifting the thinking of respondents to critical thinking from “optimal thinking,” the state of mind they reason as they normally would in daily life). No one better get in the way of your research project, or it’s Khan wrath, baby!

How to get out of this hell: Place fewer trap questions and make sure there is a second or third set of eyes on your questionnaire. Yes, these circles overlap like an infernal slinky.

 

Sixth Circle (Heresy)

 

 

Welcome to an eternal landscape of flaming tombs. You should avoid this place at any cost unless you’re doing a heavy metal video.

For researchers: What is worse a heresy in market research than not checking your data? As examples, you don’t notice that some respondents are finishing surveys in less than 30%-50% of the median time; that others are marking the same line in each question; or that some are even leaving a Christmas Tree pattern in the survey (it does happen!).

How to get out of this hell: Double-check, my friend, like we keep saying, and don’t go at it alone.

 

Seventh Circle (Violence)

 

 

Witness a place where all violent thugs spend time beating each other up, under the governance of a Minotaur, harpies and whatever monster Dante must have found in his ancient copy of World of Warcraft. It’s a cosmic Fight Club!

For researchers:  Your survey research may not be threatening you, but a lack of empathy can be just as perilous. As qSample’s president Rudly Raphael stated:

Companies need to have more empathy for the research participant. The person(s) who writes the survey instrument should ask themselves if they could sit through that survey for 25-30 minutes. Companies should make surveys fun and engaging, regardless of the topic. They should test their surveys over and over again to identify the fatigue points in the survey. This is usually the area where data integrity is compromised.

How to get out of this hell: Did you not hear Rudly through the din of the harpies? Cultivate empathy. Picture yourself taking the survey, perhaps on a smartphone waiting for a bus in the rain. Picture the vocabulary of your audience as well as their habits.

 

Eighth Circle (Fraud)

 

 

Some monster called Geryon goes around in this place harassing all manner of fraudsters. We’re sure that this includes the founders of the startup you invested in back in 2012.

For researchers: It’s still surprising that so many researchers don’t communicate to participants the length of the questionnaire or clearly explain the purpose of the survey. They avoid placing progress bars or timers. They don’t engage the respondents after the survey. It may not be a scam, but it certainly makes survey participants provide lesser data quality.

How to get out of this hell: Like the figures who guided Dante in Inferno, take a journey with your respondents. That in itself lets them know that they’re actually heading to a paradise.

 

Ninth Circle (Treachery)

 

 

This level is the sucky-suck of all places. It’s hot, and you’ve got the company of such fiends as Cain, Mordred, and Judas. Need we say more? Should we include Carrot Top to seal the deal?

For researchers: We don’t have to say anything else, really, pointing to the vibe of the Seventh and Eighth Circle. Your survey ultimately represents your brand or client. You are truly your respondent’s keeper. Anything but utmost professionalism can go beyond compromising survey data and response rates. It may hinder future surveys.

How to get out of this hell: If you’re this low, ignored all the advice from the other circles, then may it’s time switch to selling insurance or swindling people by founding a startup. There is little hope.

 

Conclusion

 

 

At the end of Inferno, Dante crawls through the center of the earth and enters Purgatory. If you avoid these circles in your survey research projects, you won’t have to worry about any purgation. You’ll be already rising through heavens of quality data.

 

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The Fascinating Founders Of Market Research

 

In a past article, I created the quote: “Those who do not learn from market research history are doomed to average data.” As far as I know, the quote hasn’t made it to any social media memes or posters with cats. I still stand by it. I’ve advocated the importance of retaining some understanding (and context) of the history of market research—on this blog and in such sites like The American Marketing Association. As with the pioneering concepts of Edward Bernays, many market research ideas can actually go full circle and become relevant today.

In this article, I present a summary of all the principal Founders of Market Research. I drew from various resources, but mainly from Paul A. Scipione’s A Nation of Numbers: The Development of Marketing Research in America. It’s an excellent book we included in our article The Best Books On Market Research.
Get ready to journey on a Tardis of market research chronicles (or perhaps modified DeLorean if you have more American time travel sensibilities). I believe you will find that these fathers of market research to be far more interesting (and even controversial) than you could have imagined.

 

George H. Gallup (1901-1984)

 

 

Most Americans are aware of the Gallup Poll, but few know about the individual it’s named after, George Gallup, who also happens to be the chief developer of public polling.

Gallup began as a journalism and advertising academic, teaching in such hallowed institutions as Columbia University and Northwestern University. His breakthrough happened in 1932 when he helped his mother-in-law, Ola Babcock Miller, during her election for the position of Iowa for Secretary of State. No Democrat had won statewide office in Iowa since the Civil War. Gallup’s polling of the counties gifted Miller the insights to understand voters. The only question on his questionnaire was, “What are you most worried about?” Miller calibrated her political message depending on the majority answer of each county. This resulted in a landslide victory.

The Iowa election not only propelled Gallup to nationwide celebrity, it eventually led him to found the American Institute of Public Opinion, which soon became a perennial bellwether for national politics. His one black eye would be his calling for Thomas Dewey against Harry Truman in 1948 (Gallup blamed the blunder on closing polling too early).

Market Research Legacy: Gallup was a champion for dry quantitative research, claiming one should focus on the “what” instead of the “why” in research. He held little patience for research that delved into the subconscious motivations of respondents, as well as focus groups in general.

Quote: “I could prove God statistically.”

 

Arthur C. Nielsen (1898-1980)

 

 

Nielsen is also a household name like Gallup. His story is one of how adversity can create opportunity. During the Great Depression, Nielsen’s firm ACN (which tested and measured technologies) struggled like most businesses.

Struggling for income, Nielsen came up with two innovations in 1936: the Nielsen Drug Index (NDI) in 1933 and the Nielsen Radio Index (NRI). These innovations were based on his idea that he could develop a nationwide probability sample of drugstores. His company began auditing key brand statistics like purchase invoices and shelf stock, and then plugging those numbers into a proprietary equation. This analysis produced sales and mark share statistics for competitive brands of the over-the-counter drugs.

Large companies like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble soon began paying Nielsen for his insights. This gave birth to the power of price reductions, sales, and promotions within stores. In time, ACN became the first market research firm to exceed a billion dollars in annual revenue. Later on, of course, Nielsen entered the television market to become truly immortal.

Nielsen always claimed he “accidentally” entered market research.

Market Research Legacy: Beyond his sample statistic innovations, in 1948 Nielsen’s company built the first ever general-purpose computer, the Univac, for $150,000. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates would later work on cheaper products, thankfully. Moreover, Nielsen Ratings have been the standard-bearer for marketing television for decades.

Quote: “The price of light is less than the cost of darkness.”

 

Alfred Politz (1902-1982)

 

 

In this pantheon, Alfred Politz balances the dry countenance of Nielsen. His life is closer to that of a movie star or international spy.

Politz worked as a marketer in Germany in the 1930s, even though he was a physicist by education. He fled his homeland to the US, aided by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley. The reason was that Politz feared that Hitler would force him to work on weapons of mass destruction.

Once in America, Politz worked in advertising, claiming he wanted a job where he could make the most money for the least amount of thinking. His fiery personality led him through many companies, producing great marketing work but also great enemies. Eventually, he founded Alfred Politz Research, Inc., which would become a chief market research firm. His company dominated the development and implementation of new quantitative methods for advertising research for nearly 30 years. During his meteoric rise, he lived the life of a rock star: flamboyant and hedonistic (and often entertaining to the press).

Market Research Legacy: His advocacy of random probability sampling shaped market research. His influential, high-visibility studies for Life Magazine became legendary in marketing circles.

Quote: “Repeat exposure without repeat payment.”

 

Ernest Dichter (1911-1991)

 

 

We provided an exposition in Freud and The Intriguing History of the Focus Group. Like Politz, Dichter was a complex and fascinating character, a press celebrity who even appeared on The Tonight Show. Furthermore, the Viennese Dichter also came to America to avoid Hitler, but the reason was that he was a Jew.

Ironically, Dichter and Politz were lifelong enemies, their antagonism a symbol of the yin and yang tension of qualitative and quantitative polarities.

Certainly, Dichter was a trailblazer of qualitative research, as well as a Freudian who believed in manipulating the “beast mode” forces bubbling in the human subconscious. From phallic-looking cigarettes to the legendary tiger in the gas tank, Dichter played with symbols and archetypes to manipulate consumers.

Market Research Legacy: Developed and perfected the focus group (and coined the term), permanently injected psychology into market research.

Quote: “What people actually spend their money on in most instances are psychological differences, illusory brand images.”

 

Charles Coolidge Parlin (1872 – 1942)

 

 
Like Nielsen, you could say Charles Parlin accidentally entered market research.

A Wisconsin schoolteacher with no marketing experience, Parlin was hired by Curtis Publishing Company in 1911. He didn’t even receive a job title. His job was to provide better advertising insights on an agriculture magazine the company had recently bought.

Parlin created market research out of thin air, from data gathering to best practices, interviewing subjects and breaking down the findings in sober numbers. Almost overnight after his groundbreaking work for Curtis Publishing, logical rule replaced intuition in the marketing world. He eventually started his own firm, National Analyst, and further pioneered market research as we know it.

Market Research Legacy: Founded the first market research company in history, parlayed one set of simple insights into an entire set of standards that still govern market research and general marketing to this day.

Quote: “Advertising, properly applied, reduces selling cost. The consumer pays the expense of advertising which therefore justifies itself.”

 

Conclusion

 

 

If there is a main takeaway to the lives of these individuals, it would be that market research is often as accidental as it is analytical. It’s a cauldron of invention as it is a laboratory of data, producing a $24 billion a year industry that employs more than 150,000 workers nationwide. Also, market research doesn’t have to by dry and rigid, or at least perceived as such, and that often common sense rules the day for individuals trying to make sense of market forces.

Most of us probably won’t appear on The Tonight Show or have to worry about fleeing despotic governments. Nevertheless, we can have a good time and change the flow of this nation of numbers.

 

A version of this article appears in Quirks

 

15 Free Market Research Tools & Resources When You Need A Hack

Lady holding umbrella underneath falling numbers

 

Market research is a discipline of precision. It’s also an industry that—if it could—would melt into the essence of numbers themselves. There are occasions, however, when a researcher might need some ad hoc statistics or data to support a project during nascent stages. Also, with market research budgets tightening across the business world, sometimes a researcher just needs a hack to gain a sense of perspective.

We’ve compiled a list of some free market research tools for the mentioned occasions. These can work from business development to brand analysis.

 

Economic & Financial Data

 

 

For mining the business and consumer landscapes, certainly start with FreeLunch. Moody Analytics provides the data, centered on capital markets and risk management. You can acquire data on an astonishing 180 countries that represent roughly 93% of the global GDP.

For sources with a little lighter scope, we recommend Quartz’s Atlas. This resource doesn’t exactly extracts profound insights, but it does provide sensible data in the form of charts and graphs you can embed in your documents or presentations.

 

American Demographics Sample

 

 

Our own government’s The American FactFinder allows you to search for any chunk of data related to any geographic location in the country. Gain access to documents such as demographic qualities, population estimates, housing valuations and business statistics. All data you find can be segmented further into age, sex, race, location and more. The US Census Bureau manages the search engine, which is a huge asset both for both exploratory and later-phase market research.

To understand a specific area’s lifestyle habits, you can then take advantage of Nielsen’s MyBestSegments. This platform offers tools to discover which areas would be most receptive to a brand campaign or launch—as well as nearby competitors and shifting shopping trends.

 

Brand Competition

 

 

With Upfront Analytics, you simply provide your company information and two competitors. The company then collects market research data through app games instead of traditional surveys—just to navigate biases and traditional response rates. In a few days, data returns to you with a national representative of the population as well as brand awareness statistics for your company.

As a companion, utilize Business Dynamics Statistics, which allows you see economic data on job creation, startups and shutdowns, business openings, expansions, and closures.

If you need assistance in where exactly to stay away from competition, there is ZoomProspector, a nifty tool allowing you to identify the optimal locations for startups, relocation or expansion of your or a client’s business.

Lastly, if you want to know how market research is evolving (and competing with itself), you can never go wrong with Greenbook’s GRIT Report.

 

Surveys and Focus Groups

 

 

If you want “free,” then obviously these tools are certainly quasi-scientific, at least in their no-cost levels. Nonetheless, they may present a snapshot of a brand or feedback on a product.

There are many and popular “free” survey platforms. We recommend the services of our sister company, QuestionPro, for their overall agility and intimate service (as they aren’t one of the mammoth survey providers). For an even simpler hack, Twitter and Facebook now provide polls if you happen to have a vibrant social media community for a quick data portrait.

Obviously, we recommend enterprise online surveys, which comes down to well-managed and highly-engaged panels. If you’re going the route of generic sample, use a free sample calculator to get closer to scientific.

As far as focus groups, Google Hangouts or a Skype group conversation is the way to go. Again, nothing scientific but certainly insightful or even stimulating.

If you really, really need brand analysis, try Userlytics—which provides a platform to test mobile apps, videos, display ads and more. It presents both a webcam and a screen recording of participant engagement. Afterwards, you can compare user answers with their reactions on video to understand how people are truly interacting with your brand. (Userlytics is not free, but it’s inexpensive, and that’s sometimes as good as free when you need a hack).

 

Conclusion

 

 

For a truly real free market research tool, we probably should have mentioned Siri or Cortana, but perhaps you already used them. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, as either platform is a close as rolling the dice as you can get. But you never know, right? In the end, there are more free market research tools available in cyberspace, but the ones we mentioned can move your research forward even as budgets and timelines move backward.

 

Poor survey data driving you crazy

How Virtual Reality Is Transforming Market Research

 

Certain trends seem to surge and sputter, and then surge and sputter. Two examples might be 3D movies and Ska. The most recent instance is virtual reality, which surged at times in the 90s and 2000s but then sputtered without adhering to mass culture. Virtual reality is back again, with somewhat of a vengeance, highlighted by such technologies as Facebook’s Oculus and Samsung’s Gear VR.

Will virtual reality stick this time? Only time will tell, but it’s already influencing market research and could potentially inform survey research.

In a GreenBook article, editor-in-chief Leonard Murphy makes a strong case that virtual reality is now valuable for market research. Some companies are presently investing heavily on its benefits. Murphy’s findings are largely based on research by Rutgers, and here are his main takeaways:

Approximately 70% of brand decisions occur when consumers are already inside a store. Many consumers wait until the last minute to make a decision. Therefore, no amount of market research preparation can fully overcome the mentioned percentage, except for virtual reality, which can simulate buyer’s journeys in a store in real-time and in-depth behavior.

–  Virtual reality seamlessly incorporates into already-proven technologies like eye tracking and heat maps, in order to gain a comprehensive view of the consumer subconscious desires. As an example, Cadbury has combined these technologies with virtual reality to decipher product shelf placing.
–  In virtual reality shopper simulation, multiple scenarios can be executed. This ultimately may be cost effective for businesses in research projects.
–  Virtual reality focus groups cost 50% less than traditional focus groups, and yield the same accuracy of data.

The pixel-sky is the limit. Virtual reality can be employed beyond just the shopping experience— such as new product concept testing, customer experience model testing and restaurant menu optimization/pricing.

Contrary to some market research Luddites, it should be mentioned that being placed in a virtual world (or The Matrix) is not detrimental to providing accurate responses. As a recent report from a market research company explained, nearly a quarter of consumers feel that virtual interactions are as good as “being there.” The numbers are higher for millennials. Thus, the future implies that virtual scenarios do not pose a problem for researchers.

Nevertheless, could virtual reality pertain to quantitative research? Of course. Google Glass may have been a failure, but it taught that individuals are capable of inputting data while simultaneously interacting with the “real world.” Questionnaires, then, can flash before respondents in virtual settings and completed in real-time. Moreover, the trending issue with widespread consumer rejection of surveys (which we reported on) could also be solved as surveys become far more entertaining and engaging at the same time.

Virtual reality surveys are basically an actual reality, as seen by this graphic from the Lieberman Research Institute:

virtual reality in online surveys

Again, the pixel-sky is the limit. The question remains on whether virtual reality will remain as more than an ephemeral fashion. One figure who is publicly skeptic about virtual reality is computer genius and tech entrepreneur Walter O’Brien (television show Scorpion is based on him). During a recent interview on the Tim Ferris podcast, O’Brien bemoaned the fact that virtual reality has not evolved that much from its 90s incarnation. The technology still needs much more of a “wow” factor, according to him.

Even the buzz on virtual reality appears nonexistent, perhaps due to the past incarnations of the technology. As recent Horizon Media study found that two-thirds of Americans are either unaware of uncaring about having virtual reality.

Following the money trail says otherwise, though. As Murphy explains in the GreenBook article, virtual reality is estimated to generate $30 billion in revenues by 2020. Much of this is due to the increasing reliance of market research projects for this technology.

In essence, market research has time to embrace virtual reality, and those in survey research can get excited at presenting some exciting surveys that improve overall data quality.

Even Ska could be played in the background…

Ingredients To Surveys Consumers Will Actually Want To Take [Infographic]

Man holding smartphone with survey written on screen

 

Your survey will probably be ignored and hated. It might be hated more than Pharma Bro or the Star Wars prequels…unless you offer Jar Jar’s head on a platter with each complete.

Those are bold words, you might be thinking, and bringing in Jar Jar Binks is just hitting below the belt. Well, take a look at data on online surveys:

–  Survey cooperation rates have nosedived from 43% in 1997 to 14% in 2012. Online survey responses rates are even lower. Some studies have participation rates averaging 2 percent.
–  It seems everyone and their market research dog is entering the survey research game, including Google and Twitter. This has logically created more competition and more glut. Hence, respondent fatigue has settled over the population like a Fukushima’s reactor cloud. As illustrations, one survey firm, Mindshare Technologies, conducts 60 million surveys every year (at a startling 175,000 surveys a day); another company, ForeSee, conducts around a million surveys per month.

These statistics don’t even consider the barrage of information on consumers that has, in effect, shortened their attention spans and patience for survey research.

Worry not. Your survey can exact high participation rates. You just need to afford more care in writing questionnaires and delivering the survey. The “more care” is presented in the below infographic, based on our article 7 Hellish Ways You’re Burning Your Online Survey Respondents.

Really, don’t worry, and I promise not to mention the Star Wars prequels again. With the data from the infographic, you’ll be delivering online surveys resulting in the market research insights you deserve.

4 Ingredients to a Good Survey

 

 

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12 Sage Tips To Optimize Mobile Surveys [Infographic]

Smartphone bursting with information and symbols

 

Video may have killed the radio star, as song goes, but mobile might be killing the PC star. Mobile is certainly killing it when it comes to consumer attention, something important to bear in mind as marketing researchers. The Mobile Era is here and it’s more like a conquest.

I could go on all day about mobile, toss in several more analogies and metaphors. Instead, why not present some sound data:

More Americans use mobile devices for web browsing than they do PC’s
– Online surveys completed from mobile devices will approach 50% in 2016
– 60% of cell phones are smartphones
– Worldwide mobile advertising revenue will expand by 3.5 times its present size in 2016
– 74% of mobile Boomers use their phone while shopping (yes, that’s boomers, just think of Millennials and Generation X’ers)
– More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including Japan and the US

See the writing on the wall? Even you, PC star?

Thus, it’s imperative to make market research mobile-friendly, a notion that many experts feel hasn’t happened fully. As one marketing thought leader said about 2016 market research trends: “Finally, we’ll continue to muck up mobile research and bludgeon unwitting respondents with interminably lengthy surveys.”

Let’s not do any of that. To assist in mobile research, our latest infographic provides several tips to ensure your next survey is mobile-friendly. Or, at the very least, as another marketer said, that your surveys are “device agnostic and optimized for mobile by design.”

Here you go:

 

Infographic with list of tips to optimize mobile surveys

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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.

 

Conclusion

 

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

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.

 

Conclusion

 

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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