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Tips For Creating An Effective Market Research Survey

What is a Market Survey?

It’s no secret that today’s consumer holds all of the power when it comes to the success of any product or service offered by your company. Market research is crucial if you want the products or services you offer to succeed with your target market. One of the very best ways to determine if that product will succeed or if it is currently succeeding with your target market is to conduct market surveys of your audience.

A market survey is an investigation conducted to consumers that seeks to learn detailed information and collect data about a company’s particular product, service or brand. It can be done by paper, digitally through a variety of tools available through companies that specialize in market survey tools, or in-person through a consumer research survey.

The purpose of a market research survey is to gather data directly from your company’s current consumers or target consumers. The data gathered will help your company to make important business decisions regarding the products and services that your company offers currently or plans to offer. It can also help determine how people regard your brand, branding or positioning within the marketplace. The results collected from a market research survey are especially important to the marketing department, helping them to make important business decisions.

Benefits of Market Surveys

1. Reach A Highly Specific Audience
2. Analyze Your Target Market
3. Measure Brand Awareness
4. Gain Highly Specific Insight On A Product or Service
5. Measure Your Company Against Competitors
6. Gain Insight Into Customer Demographics
7. Get Early Feedback Into Future Marketing Campaigns Before Launching

Create An On-brand Introductory Page

All good surveys should begin with an introductory page that introduces your brand. Even if you are only surveying consumers that have used your product or service, you should write the introduction as if the people participating in the survey are completely unfamiliar with your brand.

The introductory page should use very simple, clear and concise language that explains the purpose of your survey to the respondent. You want to keep it short and sweet. You should include how that person’s answers will help make a concrete difference in your company. You should add any instructions that are relevant to the survey.

Most importantly, make sure you share with the person responding knows if the answers will be kept anonymous, if they are confidential or if they will be shared. Also, don’t forget that everyone carries a cell phone these days and can easily take photos of the questions. If your company has a privacy policy make sure you include that in a noticeable place on the intro page.

Things you need to consider before you start doing your market research survey

Understand Your Buyer Persona(s)
Before beginning any market research, you need to establish buyer personas or marketing personas for the survey to be effective. This involves your marketing team sitting down to develop representations of who your ideal customer is and how their buying patterns ideally would work.

You will also need to establish consumer desire, meaning understanding why your ideal consumer would buy your product or service in the first place. Also, you want to thoroughly establish what is called a marketing funnel. This determines how your ideal consumer goes from initial awareness to the point of purchase. A buyer persona is made up of age, gender, location, job, income, etc.

Here are some tips on how to choose who to survey:

  • For every buyer persona, you should have at least 10 people
  • Try (as much as possible) to survey people who have recently used your service or purchased your product
  • Try to get a mix of demographics (age, race, gender, location, etc.)
  • When contacting your ideal participants, let them know approximately how much time the survey will take
  • Let participants know the goal of the survey as well as what kind of difference their participation will make in your company

Next, you will need to identify how you are going to conduct your market research survey. You can do an in-person focus group. This gives you the advantage of seeing things like body language and hearing how participants may communicate with each other about the questions and your brand during the survey. It’s natural for participants to talk to each other during research surveys. You can also do an online survey. Many excellent tools are specifically built to conduct market research surveys online.

Many consumers are much more likely to participate in these than something like a phone survey. In fact, many people actually enjoy giving their opinion via an online survey. You have many, many options to tailor your survey to your specific needs and all of the data is delivered to you in a simple format. These tools usually have a cost attached, but it is often quite inexpensive and cheaper than a phone or focus group due to the man-hours that it will save. The last option is an individual phone interview, which is a bit of a dated way to conduct a survey and can often feel intrusive.

Types of Strategic survey questions

Categorical Questions

  • Yes/No
  • Multiple Choice
  • Checkbox

Ordinal Questions

  • Dropdown
  • Ranking

Interval/Ratio Questions

  • Ranking Scale: This is an excellent way to get a more specific measurement of the subject’s thoughts on something than you would get from a yes/no questions.
  • Matrix: This is typically only available on a digital survey tool. However, it enables you to gather a lot of data all at once.
  • Textbox: This is great if you are looking for opinions of direct feedback.

Tips For Crafting the right questions

Use Language That is Simple and Direct

Most of the time, the marketing branch of your company will be the ones developing the survey questions. This often winds up with your survey having marketing jargon weaved into the questions. When developing a survey, you should have multiple people ruthlessly scrutinize the survey before releasing it to participants. Ask someone in the accounting department or an intern to scrutinize the questions before releasing it as well as upper management.

Write Questions That Are Statistically Valid

The goal of your survey is to collect measurable information and data. While gathering opinions is often important, every person’s opinion will vary and one person’s opinion never encapsulates your overall market’s opinion.

Don’t Push the Participant in One Direction or the Other

Never write questions that push the survey participant in one direction or another. For example, if your company tells high-end sneakers and you are surveying high school-age participants, a pushing question could be something along the lines of, “would you rather be unpopular or buy X brand of sneakers?” You’ll get the answer you want, but this isn’t tangible data.

Offer an “Out” or a “Does Not Apply”

Remember that not all questions will apply to all participants. Make sure for every multiple choice question you include some type of option that indicates that the question does not apply or they do not have an opinion on the questions.

Don’t Offer Too Many Options

A common mistake people make when developing a survey is offering too many options for multiple-choice questions. This can cause the person responding to begin overthinking the questions, leading to them either answering the wrong way or, in the worst case, giving up on the survey altogether. Typically four to five options with an additional option that the answer doesn’t apply or they have no opinion is more than enough to collect the information or data you are looking for.

Common Structural Mistakes in Survey Design to Avoid

Avoid Leading Questions

This is the number one mistake that people make when creating a market research survey. Make sure your questions are always 100% objective. You should get the opinions of at least three other people to make sure that this is the case.

Don’t Ask Two Questions In One

Another big mistake people make when creating surveys is asking two questions in one, even if it is unintentional. For example, “have you ever used product X and would you use it again?” These questions should be broken up to collect the best data.

Don’t Use Negative Question Wording

Always try to keep your questions either on the positive side of completely matter-of-fact.

Don’t Imply Answers

Have multiple people review your questions to make sure that the answer isn’t implied, skewing your results and making your data unusable.

Don’t Ask Too Many Open-Ended Questions

One or two open-ended questions is fine. However, too many times people believe that leaving many questions open-ended will garner more information. However, that makes the answers bias and not data-centric.

Don’t Forget To Leave Room For Write-In Notes At The End

Leaving room for notes can often not yield much. However, sometimes the write-in portion can yield invaluable results.

Put Your Survey Questions in the Right Order

When building your market research survey, how you structure your questions is crucial for the effectiveness of the survey. Here are some proven tips to help you build out your questions in a structural order to get the results you are looking for:

Start With Demographic Questions

Demographic questions should be the very first thing on your survey. Many companies make the mistake of placing them at the end of the survey, which often leaves people to skip them. Demographic information, such as age and gender, will be absolutely crucial when you are presenting the data, making it essential. Also, demographic questions should always be mandatory as part of your survey.

Start General, Then Gradually Get More Specific

Similar to your conversion funnel, you never want to overwhelm people early on. Start by asking broad questions and then get more specific once the person taking the survey has had the opportunity to wrap their mind around the broader questions.

Randomize Questions (If Possible)

Most digital survey tools allow you to randomize question choices. This is especially important if you have a group of people taking the survey. While this is much more difficult with a paper survey, digital survey tools give you much broader options.

Thanks for reading "Tips For Creating An Effective Market Research Survey", by the Linchpin Team in Chicago, Raleigh, and Wake Forest.

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