“There are errors everywhere,” my market research professor claimed on the first day of class. He continued and said, “as a market researcher, your job is to reduce the errors as much as possible.” As someone who has worked in the industry for fifteen years, I believe that this lesson is still extremely important. In other words, when conducting a survey, there are certain things to watch out for.
If research errors are not found, the results will lead to inaccuracies. Ultimately, the insights garnered from the study may lead a brand to the wrong conclusions.
If you are developing a survey, here are a few errors that you need to watch out for.
1. Inaccurate Objectives
When constructing your research objectives, it is always important to think about how the end results will be used. In other words, when conducting a survey, you must make sure that your objectives are clear and factual.
2. Improper Research Methodology
Sample size, language issues, and goals of the research are aspects you need to consider when determining the methodology. For example, a survey with only 25 respondents only provides directional information and does not represent a portion of the population. You may want to consider using more open-ended research approaches such as focus groups.
3. Bad Survey Writing
Survey length is too long, leading with sensitive questions (i.e. household income), too many open ends, inconsistent or wrong survey scales are just a few of the problems that occur when writing a survey. The best way to solve survey errors is by asking others to take your survey. The more people who take the survey, the more errors you will be able to find. Also, double-check to ensure the survey logic is accurate. To sum up, survey writing is vital when conducting a survey, and your choices are very important.
4. Sampling Bias
How you acquire your sample can impact survey results. Your friends or colleagues may provide biased results if they took your survey. Also, only researching a certain segment of your population may also skew results. For example, if you were targeting a national population, but only reached New Yorkers the results won’t be representative.
In conclusion, survey writing plays an enormous role in the success of your study. For example, any combination of sampling bias, bad survey writing, improper methodology, and inaccurate objectives can submarine your research. In particular, bias can torpedo a research study by skewing the results to inaccuracy. The job of researchers is to conduct smart, factual, and insightful studies, in order to inform a marketing strategy. By avoiding these pitfalls, you as a researcher will be on your way to doing your job to the best of your possibilities. And the possibilities of market research are endless!
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