Running effective web surveys
“We’ve had 1,000 responses to a web survey in just two days,” said Dr Nicola Stanley of Silver Dialogue, a multi-modal market research company. “Web surveys achieve quick results. They’re also a cost-effective way of reaching an online audience, and offer greater possibilities for interacting and engaging with audiences.”
Dangers of web surveys
Nicola went on to highlight some of the dangers of web surveys to an audience of Snap Survey delegates in Leicester. “You have to be sure that all of your target audience is actually online, know who is really filling out the survey form, and understand that response rates will vary according to the topic and the type of contact list. Cold contact lists are less likely to elicit good response rates than ‘warm’ lists such as consumer or business panels.”
Make sure your email invitations get through
It’s also important to resolve problems that could stop your email invitations arriving in the correct in-boxes. For example:
- Make sure that your email list is up-to-date
- Undertake an analysis of bounce-backs
- Develop strategies to overcome spam filters, such as using Sender Address Verification.
“Some web surveys receive a low response because the organisation simply hasn’t anticipated a preventable problem or carried out a pilot survey,” added Nicola.
“For example, there’s no point sending out an email survey to ask people if their computer has been fixed. If their computer’s broken, they won’t be receiving emails. Ambiguous questions are also a deterrent for survey participants, and formatting can create problems. For example, I heard of a survey that was formatted in the US but delivered in the UK. It asked respondents to provide a US zip code instead of a UK postcode, which prevented people from completing the survey.”
Doing the right thing
Nicola added a timely reminder of the importance of adhering to the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. She recommends:
- Making sure that your email invitations are balanced, and don’t lead the reader towards a particular response
- Ensuring that your fixed response questions aren’t leading e.g. ‘Are you satisfied with the proposed building plans?’ rather than ‘Are you happy that a supermarket is taking over the site of a children’s play area?’
- Including ‘don’t know’ or ‘not applicable’ as options in your questions.