In today's cluttered digital world, understanding the customer isn't a nice-to-have -- it's a must-have. Unbeknown to most marketers, though, many online research companies recruit participants from paid panels. While paid-panelist research is expedient and generates high response rates, it may not deliver the high-quality data and insights necessary to make critical business decisions. Therefore, the information you gather may be off-target, and your market research may be killing your brand.
Beyond paid panels, countless other surveying methods are at the modern marketer's disposal, and in this age of smartphone ubiquity, mobile is one of the best survey mediums marketers can use. To receive the most useful feedback and generate actionable data, marketers should optimize their surveys' conditions, designs, and convenience for respondents and use these three methods to ensure survey responses are effective.
Make it worth their while
Many respondents expect to be compensated to make taking a survey worth the time spent. To strike a proper balance, make the reward enticing enough to tempt participants but not so appealing that it becomes their primary motivator. Consider thanking respondents by entering them into a drawing for a fun prize so that their end goal is to give genuine responses, rather than just to receive compensation.
Panelists are paid for each response (often poorly), so many of them speed through surveys. Consequently, paid panelists who take dozens of surveys at once might be disengaged, distracted, or fatigued, which compromises the quality of the responses.
Be strategic with design
Survey design is just as important as reducing survey bias. Ask only questions that are relevant and meaningful to the survey's goal, and be cognizant of the respondent's frame of mind, access device, and even the time of day. Engaging respondents on their terms provides the best opportunity to capture and understand their insights.
Surveying the wrong audience or collecting useless data could harm your brand if it leads you to make bad marketing decisions. Therefore, you need to understand both where your target customers typically consume content and how they prefer to interact with brands. Then, design your survey with a goal of touching on as many of those pleasure points as possible by making it convenient and easy for them to take. If your survey design doesn't appeal to your target audience, then you won't glean the valuable insights you need. Instead, you could receive opinions from people who might never even consider your brand, and decisions based on that faulty information could end up hurting your brand's image in the long run.
Give your audience the home-field advantage
Go where your audience is most likely to be willing to provide candid answers. It's difficult to get useful data when the audience you need to reach doesn't respond well to the channels you use. People rarely answer telephone surveys, and in-person interviewing isn't practical or cost-effective when trying to obtain responses from a geographically diverse audience, so opting for randomized phone surveys could lead you down the wrong marketing avenues. And if the survey isn't mobile-optimized, it'll miss out on reactions from those who are smartphone-dependent.
Similarly, online surveys don't always see enough traffic to succeed, especially those tailored to desktop users. It is in your best interest to follow customers who are abandoning landlines and desktop applications for the convenience of smartphones. With 57 percent of Americans communicating primarily through their cellphones and 41 percent living without landlines at all, marketers can reach people across many different demographics using mobile technology without sacrificing the quality of the resulting data. Moreover, the popularity of smartphones also allows marketers to easily gather unadulterated customer information through apps, as nearly 9 out of 10 users spend their mobile time on them. Making it simple for respondents is the key to getting the information you seek, which is why mobile surveys are such a good option.
Focusing on mobile surveys is the easiest way to get the feedback you seek, but if you decide to pay panelists, make sure your surveys are worth their time and energy by compensating them appropriately. You'll find more engaged and informed respondents whose candid insights will help you make brand decisions on the basis of accurate feedback, instead of useless data. And, ultimately, you will move that much closer to seeing higher revenue and real customer success.
This originally-authored article first appeared on iMediaConnection.
Ray Beharry is an accomplished leader with a passion for providing and marketing technologies that engage, enrich, and empower others. Ray’s areas of expertise collide in his position as Head of marketing at Pollfish, a company whose online survey tool helps businesses make educated decisions by providing relevant, meaningful, and customizable consumer opinion data in real time. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor of Marketing at New York University and a mentor at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering’s Startup Incubator.