A variety of problems can arise if research objectives are not clearly defined at the beginning stages of the survey research project. The very first thing the researcher should do is work with the research team or clients to clearly identify each research objective.
Research objectives consist of general descriptions describing the types and categories of information the researcher wants to obtain from the survey; from what target population; and an explanation of possible comparisons. Throughout the survey project plan, the main objectives inform and steer the research team in the right direction.
Measure: Research objectives should contain a measurement objective, specifying what your research team is trying to measure. If your company is planning to make a large, expensive, or risky business decision, it is quite important to quantify market data in order to minimize risk.
Categorize: Research objectives are essentially summary statements detailing the categories of data you want to acquire. Some examples of objectives for market research purposes could include: brand awareness, brand image, consumer perception, consumer attitudes, buyer behavior, product satisfaction, consumer experience (good and bad), and intent to purchase behavior. Objectives should be tailored to each specific project.
Target: It is evident that you need to choose a target population that will provide the data you need. It is possible for a survey research project to target multiple target populations in order to acquire the necessary data for a successful project. If you are targeting multiple populations, ensure that the survey questions are tailored to those groups. For example, if you are administering a technology study, you don’t want to ask technical questions to a non-technical population.
Compare: In many cases, you will want to compare data from previous years, compare certain segments of a population to each other, or benchmark data against existing market data.
You should have a clear idea in mind of how the survey data will be used. Important business decisions are based on the findings of the research. Defining survey research objectives at the start of your survey project plan can serve as a guide throughout the entire research process, making certain that the right questions are asked to the right target audience, and making certain that your clients and stakeholders are satisfied with the overall outcomes of the survey, and more importantly, the accuracy and validity of the data you provide.
Related blog post: 6 Areas to Consider when Developing a Survey Project Plan