The continuous cycle of market research often maneuvers through a type of quantitative research mechanism known to most as the survey method. The survey, typically provided in an online form, is as dynamic a tool to the market researcher, as is the trove of insights it looks to uncover.
Behold, it is not operable exclusively, and not entirely free to use without the proper qualitative primary research.
Survey questionnaires are entirely different from the questions and answers obtained through qualitative methods (interviews and focus groups) and thus must work in tandem with prior qualitative analysis.
Conducting proper surveys is a difficult task, but one that with preparation and organization, can precisely identify metrics that provide clear answers.
Where qualitative analysis can be cumbersome and expensive, the quantitative survey approach provides clear information that is often easier to translate to a formal report. Survey research is a workhorse and staple for many market research agencies and almost every firm in the business can provide this type of work for their clients.
Identify Objectives and Flow
If objectives are not explicitly stated before conducting the research, problems will occur and findings will be incongruent.
The first and most important thing in survey design is identifying the proper approach with the research objectives set forth. By working with the client, researchers can understand the type and category of the information they are trying to obtain.
Before conducting the survey, researchers should know exactly how the findings will be used so that the design can better reflect navigating the respondent towards the objective’s requirements.
A general rule of thumb is to keep it short and sweet.
Sample Size Matters
The market research firm should work with their partners/vendors to decide on the optimal sample size. Determining sample size can depend on the objectives set forth, the firm’s experience, and the nature of the survey type.
Respondents may need to have prior knowledge of a subject or product. The sample size chosen must be able to yield unbiased data for the sake of your research question.
Since we can’t talk and question everyone, this may mean specifying a population of interest, a sampling frame (random or non-probabilistic) that we survey.
Typical survey sizes range from two hundred to five hundred people. The idea is that the size should be large enough to represent the proper statistics with a high level of accuracy.
Valid Questioning and Response
Included questions should keep research objectives in mind. They should be clear and avoid using industry or technical jargon. The question type and response method should keep in mind the upcoming analysis necessary.
All valid response options should be included for respondents and survey designers should consider respondent fatigue when placing questions and deciding on volume.
When designing survey question flow, consider where in the timeline the question stands, and how the previous and following question’s subjects can alter respondents’ thinking.
Review response options and question formatting to make sure overlap and direction are evident. It is common to go through a rough exercise of the survey questions to know which are must-have and which can be omitted for timing/cost sake.
Leading Projects to Success
The preparation and design of survey research are intensively layered and rightfully so. It is only half of the exercise, as conducting the survey and analyzing the results are tasks of their own that mandate equal responsibility.
If research objectives are clearly defined, communication between clients and researchers should be easy and everyone should be on the same page.
Potent content, formatting, question placement, and flow should govern the survey design. A proper sample size should be established before the survey and intentional questions should be set to elicit the right results from respondents.
The cycle continues; with the findings from our survey, we can zoom in even further and move forward with future research questions and projects.
For more on qualitative research, click here.