Surveys are powerful tools when used in appropriate manners. But too frequently the ubiquitous survey is used as a “Hail Mary” attempt to win the game without knowing which game is actually being played. In order to gain any advantage in a competitive business world, surveys should only be used when there’s no clear path to the goal on your own and you have clearly defined to whom you need to pass the ball for help to figure it all out. In this sense, surveys are only good when you’re getting help from the right people.
What is a Survey?
A survey is a quantitative research tool that utilizes data from a smaller group of people to make inferences about a larger group. Such generalizations make sense because statistics back them up. A critical part of surveying is making sure that the sample of the population you are testing is representative of the population as a whole and that the individuals of that population are interested in giving you the best help they can.
How to Insure You’re Getting the Right Respondents
To draw meaningful conclusions from your survey, you will need to insure that your participants are invested in the process. According to Engage, a handbook written by our colleagues at Global Research Business Network (GRBN), an international partnership of “four regional federations, over 40 national, social and opinion research associations and over 3,500 research businesses,” the following are three tips for demonstrating the value of your research and encouraging participation from the right kind of respondent:
- Explain the Purpose – One of the most important things a business can do when crafting a survey experience is clearly demonstrate the survey’s purpose to respondents. If you want to design a new, personalized product for consumers, tell them. If you are trying to find ways to save costs so you can deliver a more affordable product or service, tell them. Clearly informing respondents of your goal will give them the opportunity to feel helpful and important, which can only increase their willingness to be truthful.
- Keep It Relevant – No one wants to waste his or her time. Survey respondents are no different. Verify that you’ve done your own research before contacting respondents by personalizing the communications you send to them, as well as the survey itself. If you are targeting college-age women who play games through social media accounts, send a recruitment letter that highlights some innovative new products. Include questions in the survey that cater to their specific interests as well as probe for the information you need.
- Share the Results – People are naturally curious. Satisfy that curiosity by sharing the data you gather back with participants. Let them know what you plan to do by relaying how other people answered questions and what you learned. This will require more work for you, but it will inevitably make your participants feel more connected to the process and possibly more receptive to helping you again in the future.
It doesn’t take a lot to show survey respondents that their participation matters. Our team at Communications for Research has over 20 years experience crafting surveys that are meaningful for companies and participants. Contact us to see how we can help you.
You may also check out our webinar, “Keys to Screening Your Market Research Respondents,” for additional tips regarding how to ensure that you get the best people to take your survey.