Getting the Most Insights from DIY Surveys

Mark Simon
by Mark Simon 27 May, 2016

Businesses are increasingly looking to data as a means of developing their consumer engagement strategy. A logical and easy way for executives to gather consumer data is to run a survey or questionnaire.

This kind of research can impact all facets of business from developing a competitor analysis; to planning a product strategy; to guiding website development. Actively seeking out this feedback is a simple and straightforward way to gain a pulse on what's of interest to consumers, which can help inform the decision-making process for any business.

Businesses with a strong online presence have just as much, if not more, to gain from survey research. While websites often offer a wide range of data points for analysis, raw numerical data can sometimes be lacking in necessary context that informs sound business decisions. Surveys can help uncover the 'why' behind the 'what' when it comes to consumer data, and ecommerce retailers in particular are increasingly relying on these tools in order to develop their website design and layout.

Do-it-yourself (DIY) survey tools in particular are enticing because of their customizability and their cost effectiveness. With a wide range of DIY tools available, business owners can benefit from having a working knowledge of how to create a survey that will get them meaningful results. As any research expert can tell you - the questions you ask matter, and will directly impact the value of the resulting data. There are a few easy ways to ensure success when issuing a DIY survey:

1. Be mobile-versed:

Business owners doing research need to select a DIY survey platform with an easy-to-use mobile app to enable participants to complete surveys anywhere, anytime. Similarly, many survey providers allow users to make their survey mobile-native by limiting the number of open ended questions to one to two per survey, and by limiting the total number of questions to 5 to 15.

2. Consider the results:

Brands should keep the "why?" and the "so what?" at the forefront when formulating their questionnaire so they're not left hanging when the results come in. Experienced researchers typically look at each question and consider what the potential results might be. If they would have follow-up questions based on those results, it might mean they need to delve deeper.

3. Look to the future:

Most researchers have a few 'golden questions' that they always include in their surveys when they re-issue them over time. The key to ensuring meaningful change in a business is to observe how consumer attitudes evolve. By asking the same questions once a year, once a quarter, or even once a month, brands can observe market trends and be well positioned to future-proof their marketing strategy.

4. Keep it simple:

A common pitfall researchers know to avoid is building surveys that ask too much of a respondent at one time. This activity often leads to the respondent answering in a haphazard manner, potentially diminishing the value of the data. A good survey generally includes targeted questions that are limited in number, ideally between 5 and 15.

5. Have fun with it:

Enhancing the survey experience for respondents improves the quality and accuracy of the responses. In fact, 76 percent of survey takers claim that a more interactive experience will keep them more interested and less likely to drop out. One way researchers check this is by taking the survey themselves to understand first-hand how a respondent may react. More often than not, the experience may inform brands which questions they need to adjust.

To keep up with competition and delight current and prospective customers, business leaders should regularly leverage data. Survey technology has come such a long way in recent years, making the process of soliciting consumer feedback quick and easy. In fact, many survey platforms today are free and oftentimes provide real-time results. Ultimately, the process of gathering DIY research can benefit a business' operations, its brand and its customers all in one, by generating accurate, actionable data. About the Author:

Mark Simon has been with Toluna since 2005, and took on the role of managing director for Toluna North America in 2013. He is also the managing director of Toluna Digital. Before joining Toluna as a founding member of the UK business in 2005, and later functioning as the managing director of the UK office, Mark worked for Greenfield Online, a pioneer in Internet research (and subsequently acquired by Toluna in 2009). Prior to joining the digital research industry he had eight years of experience in data planning and direct marketing. Mark has a degree in Business Economics and French from Southampton University, England.