Mike Colledge, President of Ipsos Canada, recently published a concise article highlighting the essential need of multi-channel research in today’s complex respondent landscape:
Governments, corporations and not-for-profits are increasingly turning to social media to engage and consult with their constituents and clients. Almost every level of government across Canada routinely pushes out open ended, open link surveys to the masses trying to get the information and evidence they need to guide and evaluate their policies and programs. They are doing it for three good reasons: it’s easy, it’s virtually free, and 37% of Canadians say it’s their preferred method.
Many of these online studies also offer anonymity to respondents and this leads people to write things that they would never say to someone else face to face. One has to wonder if this “freedom” to express themselves allows for a truer expression of beliefs or if people are instead pushing the envelope to get a reaction? Most likely the answer falls somewhere between the two extremes.
Telephone surveys still have a role but they are rapidly being left in the dust by new technologies. Interestingly, if you want to have very robust and representative surveys in Canada we probably need to go back to mailing paper based studies but these are costly and slow. Nor are online surveys the sole answer for how best to understand society. Same with focus groups and online bulletin boards or online communities of like-minded folks, they all have their limitations as well as their benefits.
None of these approaches or methodologies can stand alone anymore. We live in a complex world where people access and share information in numerous ways and no one method covers the waterfront.
The team at Ipsos Public Affairs knows that in order to provide the best advice possible to our clients we need to be equally open to all data sources and equally skeptical of all data sources. We need to draw from multiple streams of evidence and use our brains and our understanding of a client’s objectives to figure out which data is relevant and what it all means. We need to be able to look at the data in context and use our access to other data and our experience to provide strong insight and actionable advice to our clients.
We do this by putting our clients’ objectives at the center of every project and then building the methodology and data collection approach around these objectives rather than trying to fit clients into our preferred approach. The more data sources we can include the better able we are to triangulate and potentially pin point the right decision for our clients.
Great article by a research leader in the industry. If your online-only methodology is lagging behind, get in touch with us. We have flexible multi-mode plans that allow organizations to expand their survey reach based on their clients’ projects’ needs.