When conducting market research, a great way to get quantitative analytics and hard data is through surveys. Surveys, whether given online or in person, can help you measure feelings and attitudes toward your products and assist with planning for the development of goods, services and marketing strategies.
You can get good results through a survey if you prepare adequately and are specific in your goals, since surveys don’t typically allow room for discussion or elaborated responses. Surveys are fairly simple to plan, and executing them properly can lead to invaluable insight and growth.
Market research surveys can be done both online and in person. These basic steps will walk you through the process of creating and conducting a survey:
- Determine your market and what you want to learn from them. By setting specific goals, whether they’re focused on ratings, opinions, satisfaction or determining new markets, you will be able to conduct a more successful survey.
- Decide the best way to reach your customers or target market. In-person surveys are good for getting immediate answers and making sure you control the environment of the responses, but it will be more difficult to find participants willing to come to you. The phone or snail mail may be appropriate for older customers, but it’ll make it more difficult to connect with a younger demographic (consider using a service like CallFire for simplified phone surveys). Online and email surveys are the fastest and most inexpensive method, but actually finding participants online poses a challenge. Consider sourcing participants on Craigslist, on your own website (by creating a small banner ad), through online marketing/Google advertising or by leveraging an online service that sources respondents for you, such as Survata.
- Determine the reward for respondents. Many people won’t answer a survey for free unless there is some sort of benefit for them, however small. Consider small ways to compensate your survey respondents, such as offering them a discount code, a subscription, entry into a contest, a sample or promotional product from your company or, if possible, a gift card to Amazon or iTunes.
- Prepare your questions and answers. Your questions should be specific, simple and goal-oriented. Use as few words as possible to keep it easy to read and easy to respond to. Shorter surveys are more likely to get responses because they aren’t as time-consuming. You may ask a couple more general questions, but remember that answers in the form of rankings, true or false, ranges and multiple choice make it simpler for people to respond.
- Conduct your survey using the method you determine is best for reaching your audience. Be patient while waiting for responses.
- Review your results. Where are the patterns? What questions elicited the same answer in a large percentage of respondents? Consider actions that may need to be taken based on what you find.
People often enjoy sharing their opinion, but they may be reluctant to participate in a research survey. Follow these tips to get the most out of your survey and to encourage participation:
- Keep your questions and answers specific. With fewer topics, the survey will be shorter, and people will be more likely to respond. It will also be easier to analyze results.
- Your survey questions must be easy to quantify, or the survey is useless. Avoid open-ended questions that are difficult to answer or elaborate on.
- Make sure to expand beyond current customers and people you know; this will help you get unbiased and fresh results.
- Be persistent and patient. You may need to resend the survey a few times; try different recruiting methods, or spend both money and time getting participants. But remember, the more respondents you get, the more accurate and useful your results will be.
- Practice on a small sample audience first to make sure the questions are easy to understand, answer, analyze and quantify. Edit if necessary.
Many websites are available to help you conduct and analyze online surveys. The following recommendations can provide you with the right tools to create and manage your own market research survey:
SurveyMonkey: A well-known free option, SurveyMonkey can connect to your social media accounts, host an online survey or send surveys through email. The results are fast and easy to manage.
Key Survey: Key Survey is a more thorough solution, with many options for customizing surveys and creating forms. The site can help with complex surveys and even mobile campaigns.
dotSurvey: This option focuses on design and simplicity, encouraging customization with a quick setup. The site creates in-depth reports and can analyze your results for you.
MoboSurvey: A survey solution designed for computer and mobile surveys, which work well on all devices.
Qualtrics: A system for finding specific respondents, conducting surveys and analyzing your respondent data.