By Tim Gorham
You don’t have to read Part 1 of this blog series to be aware of the worrying issue facing market researchers: online surveys are being ignored in growing numbers thanks to survey fatigue in respondents. While online remains an essential part of any survey program, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that they are getting noticed – they’re just too easy for respondents to ignore.
So how can your survey stand out? By changing channels completely, and using the personal touch of an interviewer. There’s something to be said about the old-school survey method: it’s harder to say no to a real person’s interview request than it is to ignore one of hundreds of web links seen online each day. There is a reason face-to-face interviewing is often referred to as ‘intercept.’ You are literally intercepting a respondent in the middle of their day and getting noticed.
Adapt. Existing survey methods are in decline, and only the flexible will survive. Managing effective survey programs in 2016 requires you to complement online surveys with offline channels that can help create a more representative tapestry of insights. Here are some of the major advantages of complementing online surveys with other, interviewer-lead channels:
Most online survey invitations are sent after an event or experience. Imagine a customer satisfaction survey, automatically sent via email after a purchase: the respondent opens the email a few hours or days later and completes the survey, remembering back on their experience. But when a respondent is asked about an experience while they are still experiencing it, their answers are typically more emotional, and more direct.
Thoughtfulness of responses
When an interviewer is asking questions personally, they are better able to nurture the conversation and ensure that the respondents fully understand questions and carefully consider responses. Interviewers can ask follow-ups and add prompts to help elicit more robust answers. There is no way of knowing if respondents online are taking the time to consider their answers.
To survey respondents online, researchers either need their email, or they need to get their survey link into a respondent’s hands somehow (like via the bottom of a receipt). But how can researchers survey truly random respondents who haven’t yet engaged with a brand in some way? Imagine 10,000 people passing through a train station in the morning, or average people in a given city on a given day – how can a researcher get their survey in front of them without ever having interacted with them before? When your surveys are offline, respondents are suddenly everywhere.
The personal touch
In a world of online gadgets, a little offline communication can warm the soul. Offline studies see friendly interviewers approach respondents with tablets and smiles, looking for a genuine conversation. Will many people still turn down the request? Of course! But unlike approaching respondents by sending another email and another web link to click, is it so crazy to think that offline surveys could actually be a positive interruption for some people?
Believe the hype – the rapid evolution of survey technology offers incredible online survey opportunities. But today’s online-overdosed reality may actually require researchers to complement their online surveys with a step away from the web and back into the real world. It’s a fairly fundamental business concept: what’s different gets noticed. So think different. Explore how easy it can be to create engaging offline surveys for real-world interviewing that get noticed.