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The following is a SIMPLE, but not EASY, guide to running great market research surveys.
#1. ASK (Always Seek Knowledge)
Become the subject matter expert on your given research topic before writing your survey. Read the latest reports and whitepapers, check out blogs of key influencers in the field and interview thought leaders & industry professionals. Find out what questions have so far been unanswered and what future developments are in the pipeline.
#2. Refine your research objectives
Write down 5 key questions which must be answered by the research. Test these ideas with others and invite them to challenge you about why they are interesting and relevant to the business.
#3. Define your target audience and sample size
Your target audience might include customers, general consumers, employees or other business professionals. Use a sample size calculator to work out the number of responses you will require to have confidence in the data. You should be aiming for a margin of error of around +/-3%. If you plan to analyse the results by demographic sub groups make sure you get at least 30-50 responses per group.
#4. Create an engaging survey
Now you have an idea of what questions need answering start to think about the structure and flow of the survey. The way you ask the questions will depend on the methodology you are using – this might be online, over the phone, via a text message or face to face. Use a variety of question types including single/multiple choice, matrix tables, sliders, ranking scales and open text boxes. If your survey is being distributed online make sure it is accessible on all devices. A well designed survey will maximise response rates and keep participants engaged throughout.
#5. Think about data analysis in advance
While your survey is live use that time to create an analysis tab spec. This details all the questions in the survey and then considers which other questions may have a relationship with them. For example, when asking someone how satisfied they were the last time they used your website you may want to look at differences between gender, age and device used.
#6. Produce a top line report
You will find that once you have closed your survey others will be impatient to find out the results. It can take a couple of weeks to analyse the results and produce a glossy report so pick out some of the highlights and send it around interested parties to wet their appetite for the main event.
#7. Analyse your results
Now the hard work of getting responses is done it is important you get the most out of your survey results. Refer back to your analysis plan and run a set of tables detailing the overall results and key sub group splits. Look for significant differences in the data and explore trends. If your survey has lots of likert scale questions it might be useful to show mean scores or top 2 box results. If you want to try your hand at more advanced analysis consider regression, segmentation, max diff, conjoint analysis and text analytics.
#8. Create an engaging storyboard
When you start to think about presenting the data create a storyboard first of what you consider to be the most interesting findings – and refer these back to your initial research objectives. You don’t need to report on every question if you found some added less value than others. Focus on the story the data is telling and start to build your presentation from here.
#9. Visualise your insights
Try to avoid the eighties style “Death by PowerPoint” approach. If your presentation is more than 20 slides you have probably gone into too much detail. Instead use infographics to visualise a number of key stats on one slide. Be inventive with the types of charts you use – think about a variety of bar, pie and scatter charts, plus word clouds to visualise free text comments.
#10. Deliver your findings in style
It is likely you will be asked to present your survey findings to a room full of key decision makers. This is your chance to impress and show off all the exciting findings you have uncovered. Make sure to engage the audience as you go through – ask them questions, facilitate debate and don’t be afraid to offer up your own opinions. Bring a colleague with you to take notes and communicate actions to ensure the findings are implemented within the wider business.