A lot has been said about good survey design, however, designing a survey or questionnaire involves much more than just choosing what questions to ask. It also pays to focus on the respondents in order to get the best possible results from your survey.
Is it worthwhile to even gather market research on a particular demographic?
If the target group doesn’t have a solid interest in your product or service, there’s a pretty solid chance they won’t purchase it. If your business can’t make any money in that sector of the population, it may not make sense to sink money into a market research project because it won’t pay for itself in future sales. For that reason, you’ll want to focus your market research dollars on specific demographic groups that may become future clients.
What is the interest level, knowledge, and experience of your survey group?
If you’re planning on surveying the general public, you’ll need to keep in mind that they may not have the same level of involvement as a targeted group of respondents who have been selected because of their existing experience with the topic. If your respondents are more aware of the topic, they’re more likely to give you solid data so you can make strategic decisions.
What is the expected rate of exposure for your survey respondents to information about the topic of your research?
When your survey respondents are regularly exposed to information about your topic, such as a political issue, the level of exposure may color your target group’s response, either in a positive or negative fashion. You’ll want to bear this in mind to ensure the research you collect takes this potential issue into account.
What setting are you engaging the survey respondents in and what benefit will they expect to receive?
If you’re approaching respondents outside of a place of interest or public gathering place, such as a mall or restaurant, you may not be able to maintain their interest for as long a time as you could if they were being surveyed during a pre-scheduled visit. However, the expectation of some reward, such as a discount, gift card or other item valued by your response group may help temper impatience in a non-scheduled survey in a public place of gathering.
Once you’ve determined the above, you can take a solid look at how you’re wording your questions.
Don’t use leading questions that can distract from the topic. Avoid addressing too many topics in a single question to avoid confusion. Never use absolutes in questions, such as always or never. Lastly, make sure that the language used is appropriate to your target demographic.
By keeping these aspects of your target survey respondents’ interests, knowledge, experience and willingness to participate in your market research, you can design your survey to gather the specific information you need without risking gathering poor information. Good survey design can make all the difference between getting valuable, specific data and inaccurate information as a respondent doesn’t understand the questions being answered or feel they’re wasting their time in a long, drawn-out survey.
Also published on Medium.