Asking questions. It’s long been an essential business strategy to uncover what consumers think, and why. New technology is giving businesses more advanced ways of generating consumer insight but many organizations are finding themselves returning to the incomparable survey.
Passive data collection is taking on many shapes and forms nowadays – eye-tracking determines which parts of a shop shelf or ad people look at. Geo-tracking can link mobile or wearable location with web-browsing habits. Neuroscience links brain activity with emotional response to stimuli. Yet while excitement grows around these new approaches, businesses are still relying heavily on surveys. Close to half of all market research is still survey-based, according to ESOMAR.
Rhea Fox, head of research at eBay UK, says that between a quarter and one third of her research budget goes towards surveys. “We obviously have access to a huge amount of user data, but surveys critically help us to understand the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’.” Surveys are an important part of the puzzle and lead to a more well-rounded understanding of the whole picture.
Old-school surveys via clipboard in malls is far from the current industry norms: Surveys are increasingly being done online, optimized for mobile, embedded in apps, or completed at point of purchase using tablets. The best surveys ask fewer questions, and use images or multimedia to better engage their audience.
Ready to commit to a more robust survey-based research solution? Here are five tips to ensure you’re doing it right:
- Measure with meaning. Rethink what you’re been measuring for years just because you don’t want to rock the boat on what data your organization collects.
- Determine the ‘Why’. Are you trying to discover something new or are you looking to validate decisions you have already made?
- Every question should lead to an insight. Respondents don’t want you wasting their time – the shorter the survey, the better. Avoid “nice to have”; if it won’t lead to an actionable insight that answers objectives, skip it.
- Value over price. Don’t buy research (or select research software providers…) based on price alone. Consider what you’ll get, and who you’re dealing with. If the provider can’t explain their respondent recruitment processes, can’t ensure panel quality, or won’t address drop-out and disqualification rates, move on.
- Presentable data. Don’t forget what happens after the data is collected. Ensure that research results are presented in a way that easily communicates the key points and is understandable to all stakeholders.