Surveys are great ways for businesses to get valuable information, but only when they are given to the right groups of people. For a survey to have valid meaning, businesses must first accurately identify and then qualify the people they believe possess the most knowledge and insight about the topic at hand. It is logical and might even seem easy to choose people for a survey, but ensuring that only the people with the most relevant opinions are actually the ones giving them is often the hardest part of any market research project.
To best validate the appropriateness of a respondent, market researchers use screening questions. Screening questions are placed at the beginning of any type of study to establish a respondent’s eligibility to take part in it. When a respondent fails to possess the characteristics needed to participate in a study (as verified by the screening process), he or she is removed from the targeted pool of survey participants. Take a look at the following five tips for companies wanting to make the most out of the screening process:
Make It Simple and Brief
All survey questions should be as clear as possible. Avoid acronyms and terms that might be obvious to people within your industry, but not to anyone else. Use language that is familiar in both style and spirit. And, of course, keep it as brief as possible.
Never Ask the Same Thing Twice
If you’ve verified existing data (either through your own or your data collector’s efforts), don’t ask respondents to confirm it again. No one enjoys repeating his or herself.
Don’t Waste Anyone’s Time
Similarly, no one wants to waste his or her time. Put questions that confirm vital demographic information at the very beginning of a survey. If a respondent’s answer doesn’t satisfy the criteria for the project, disqualify them as soon as possible. Don’t be rude, but don’t make them answer more questions than necessary, either. Non-essential demographic questions should be placed at the end of survey to be answered only by the people who complete it.
Go Big; Finish Small
Screening questions should start with the basics and end with the specifics. You want to give as much leeway upfront before beginning to whittle your audience down by increasingly restrictive criteria.
Present Questions with Multiple-Choice Answers, Including “None of the Above” and “Other” Options
Broadly speaking, multiple-choice questions are easier to assess than open-ended questions and present less opportunity for bias than binary (yes/no) ones, which often unintentionally lead respondents to answer in a certain way. You’ll want to make sure, however, to offer respondents a way to choose an option you haven’t thought of by presenting a “None of the Above” or “Other” choice. Otherwise, they will be forced to choose an answer that doesn’t truly reflect their experience.
Ready to Learn More?
To learn more about screening and survey best practices for great user experiences, check out Engage, a handbook written by our colleagues at Global Research Business Network (GRBN). You may also contact our Communications for Research (CFR) team for more information.