For several valid reasons — with cost being at the top of the list — many businesses opt to take advantage of internet-based technologies to generate market research data. These technologies include the web, email, social and mobile, although the “Internet of Things”, wearables and online-integrated virtual reality are making their way up the ladder.
Mail surveys are making a minor comeback into the research methodology decision set. We are talking the postal kind, not the email kind. There are instances where they make strategic sense (often as part of a mix of methods that may include some of those already mentioned). Here are some situations that you should consider whether mail surveys will be part of your market research plan:
You have a limited number of well targeted contacts and need the maximum response rate.
Blind general surveys simply will not get traction by mail. As mail survey response rates are seeing a resurgence of response when you have a niche target, you need to tailor the creative to a person’s specific interests or their business. In 2017, we used a mail survey for an academic sponsored forestry survey that was sent out to companion animal veterinary practices on a reasonable budget with a worthwhile return.
If your business has a targeted group of contacts and you need to make the most of those contacts, then a mail survey should be part of your market research plan.
You need to incorporate probability based sampling.
A probability sampling method utilizes some form of random selection. However, you must set up some process or procedure that assures that the different units in your population have equal probabilities of being chosen. If you care about representation (and we hope you do!), you cannot rely solely on the internet or even telephone anymore to encompass an entire population.
Everyone still has an address though! In addition to using addresses, you can do data appends of both landline and cell phone numbers as well as reverse lookup IP addresses to match back to facebook accounts and do ad retargeting online. A blended approach built from the address up that includes mail surveys may be the closest thing to probability based sampling that exists today.
You need to capture sensitive information.
Due to concerns about hacks and data leaks, some market research participants may be reluctant — or flat-out unwilling — to share sensitive information, such as habits related to alcohol consumption or experiences with law enforcement agencies, and so on. Provided that participants are told that their anonymity is assured (and obviously the survey itself and return envelope contain no tracking information), then using a mail survey could be far more effective than any other method, including in-person and phone surveys.
To learn more about whether a mail survey is right for your business — and if so, what other data generation methods should be part of the mix to ensure that you get actionable intelligence from your market research investment — contact the Communications For Research team today. You’ll speak to co-CEO Colson Steber who can help you determine whether mail surveys can help you reach your business goals.
If you want to learn about market research online surveys, download our FREE eBook "The Insider's Guide to Successfully Using Market Research Online Surveys":