The Best Way to Get Better Survey Data
The best way for you to get better survey data is to fix, optimize, and strategize your survey design. How? Abandon rote templates. Give up complexity. Think ahead to your analysis. Above all, put yourself in the shoes of a respondent.
We market researchers complain when we get data back from surveys and see that people have been “speeding” through our surveys, or that people are not giving thoughtful responses. I admit I complain about this a lot.
But just as there are some “bad respondents,” there are plenty of lazy researchers, and plenty of strategists and marketing professionals who are not so good with survey design. And what happens? Respondents discover that the survey they just agreed to take is boring, tedious, repetitive, or too long, and they either quit altogether or they stop providing good answers.
Years ago I read some tips from Jackie Lorch who works at Dynata, one of our suppliers who provides access to research respondents. I just re-read those tips and they continue to be as relevant as ever. Her suggestion: Use wording within the questionnaire that “speaks” to respondents, thanks them, and encourages them, in the same way we might do during a one-on-one interview.
Her four specific suggestions are:
- Acknowledge the considerable effort people are giving. For example:
The survey is quite long, and there are many questions, which you will have to think quite hard about.
- Thank people for their effort with specific words which go beyond the usual, casual “thank you for your opinion.” For example:
Thank you for completing the questionnaire so far. We realize that some of the questions you’ve been answering are not easy, and have required some real thought, especially that last group.
- Remind people that we know they have a choice to take part or to complete the whole questionnaire. For example:
Please click on the “next” button when you are ready to continue.
- Reassure people that survey-taking is an activity in which people like them participate—but at the same time there are some aspects which may seem a bit odd. For example:
People all over the nation and from all walks of life are taking part. The questions may seem a bit strange at first.
Versta Research believes that to serve our clients, we also need to serve our research respondents. They are the ones who provide the information and data that we transform into stories, providing the deep insight that clients need.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.