Survey Design Improvements Are the Key to Better, Faster, Cheaper

Better, cheaper, faster.  That’s what buyers want from sellers.  And guess what?  It’s what sellers want from buyers.  Here’s the catch… These shared objectives are inextricably linked by the survey instrument.  Because there is a third partner in this relationship that is often ignored – the survey taker.  If buyers want better, cheaper, faster data, then it’s time for the survey to evolve to meet the needs of the survey taker — Better designed surveys, that are faster for respondents to complete, and that are cheaper to field because they don’t result in expensive survey abandons and panel attrition.  It’s the only way everyone wins.

 Quality data is a shared responsibility, and requires buyers and sellers to truly partner.  This is no different than it was in phone, in person, and mail survey research, but for reasons that we cannot fully understand, in online research our industry is quick to blame the participant rather than analyze the research process. 

 We’ve spoken about quality from every aspect we can think of, but today we want to boil it down to two simple steps:  Reach people where they live and ask them to do things they can and will do.  It’s really that simple.  And this advice is no different than what we tell our clients selling goods and services to these same consumers.  Reach people and understand them, then engage them based on that understanding.

  • Reach people where they live – on their mobile devices.  Globally, this is the absolutely best place to reach them today, but requires true understanding of where they are and how they use it.  And RE-designing every interaction to respect that understanding. 
  • Ask them to do things they can and will do – which can be quite a lot if we are open and honest.  Panel members all over the world are incredibly generous with their time and information if we help them understand why we need it, and make it easy for them to participate.

Both of these points mean shorter, better, surveys.  So while buyers push for better and faster, survey participants and panel providers are demanding the same in return.  Better surveys that are shorter and faster to complete.  It’s no longer a good idea – it’s required to survive. 

Melanie Courtright (@melcourtright) is EVP, Global Products & Services for Research Now and a passionate voice for improved survey design.

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