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Soft launching a survey is not an industry secret. In fact, it’s a standard for researchers that is regarded as a best practice for conducting a successful study.
Intuitively, it makes sense. However, the unfortunate reality is that researchers often skip this step because it’s deemed an expensive process or a waste of precious project time. If a researcher does not prioritize testing for these reasons, it’s even less likely that a client will.
Despite researcher and client apprehension on the topic, a soft launch is actually an integral part of conducting an effective survey. It doesn’t necessarily need to be very costly or take too much time if you utilize online survey software.
Realistically, it’ll save you resources because effective surveys have cleaner datasets, require less data handling, and reach completion more quickly.
Still not sure whether you should incorporate soft launching into your online survey research yet? Keep on reading…
A soft launch refers to testing an online survey with a smaller sample size before releasing it for broader distribution in order to iron out any kinks. You can send it out to a back of a randomly selected audience to test if your survey is missing anything, if there’s any mistake, or to simply see the response rate.
A soft launch of online surveys can help you ensure that it meets the survey objective.
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In sports, players double-check their shoe knots before they go onto the field. Musicians rehearse their pieces before they perform for the audience. Then why a researcher shouldn’t test their surveys before they send them out?
Companies rely on the data collected using online surveys to make business decisions. But what if you click send on the email invitations or post the survey on social media only for the site to crash? What if there are mistakes?
It’s better to take some time to soft launch online surveys to a small bunch of people rather than finding mistakes after sending them to 10,000+ respondents. Moreover, it doesn’t reflect nicely on the brand. The respondents are more likely to assume that you don’t care about them since you are sending them poorly-crafted surveys.
Soft launching surveys don’t have to be expensive or take a lot of time if you use robust online survey software. Look for an online survey tool that allows you to test your surveys via multiple channels and process the data automatically, thus saving your time and money.
If you need more reasons why you should test your surveys, we have listed the reasons in the next section.
Whether you send surveys to customers or clients, it should look like a professional survey since it mirrors your brand. Six reasons why you should consider soft launching surveys are –
Let’s explore these six reasons.
First and foremost, you must verify that your survey reaches the correct audience. It should not come as a surprise that a survey with an unrefined sample can lead to a polluted dataset.
Even if you use a sample provider, you need to ensure that the provided contacts are correct, and you can do this with a test. It can help you decide whether to look for a different sample provider or select respondents again.
An early indicator of the success of your study is the results behind your survey invitation email. You will be able to see whether your invitation is appealing in a short amount of time.
Keep a close eye on whether people are clicking on the links within the email or if the email has been marked as spam. You can use these metrics to craft survey invitations that compel the audience to respond.
Ask yourself; are your criteria too restrictive to reach a large enough sample size?
For example, if you’re looking for smartphone users who also own a personal robot, you may have trouble finding an audience for your survey.
Doing a soft launch for online surveys will tell you pretty quickly if the criteria need to change and if you need to manage client expectations for the results. A soft launch helps ensure that the sample is a true representative of the population.
Our advice would be to use an online survey software that offers you sample management, so you can select your respondents based on accurate criteria.
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A survey’s “No Answer rate” can prove that the questions need to be clarified, posed differently, or removed altogether. Non-sensical or dismissive responses can also be indicators of this.
Everyone knows how to create a survey. But only a few know how to ask a question that is comprehensive to the reader.
A soft launch survey test is just that – a test. And can be treated as such. Sending your survey to a smaller sample can help you identify glitches, typos, bias, and mistakes.
You will also be able to determine if you need to further refine skip patterns and logic. It is better to find any routing issue before launching a survey, rather than realizing later that 300 out of 700 completes skipped a question they shouldn’t have, resulting in skewed data.
The average completion time of a soft-launched survey can also help you determine whether you need to remove less important questions or look into having an incentive budget for respondents.
Unfortunately, potential respondents will often not take the time to fill out an hour-long survey without a reward, driving your response rate down.
If you’re forced to do a lot of manual work to clean your dataset, then it’s likely you’re not putting enough care and testing into your workflow of survey programming. If potential respondents are not engaging with your survey, the case may be that not enough work has been done to test elements of the survey.
In short, a quick soft launch can help researchers build surveys that are more effective at getting the job done. Use an online survey tool that offers you the flexibility to conduct a test and track surveys in real-time to understand where people are dropping off.
Perhaps your soft launch will show that everything is set up perfectly. But you owe it to yourself and your clients to ensure your success.