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Archive for the ‘Survey Tips’ Category

An intercept survey is a research method used to gather on-site feedback from an audience. Intercept surveys are often used at events, restaurants, conferences, and in shopping malls to collect patron perception information. During an intercept survey, the interviewer may approach a patron to ask about their experience at the event, facility or restaurant. Results from the intercept surveys allow the client organization to obtain feedback from their target audience while the information is still fresh in their minds. Below are three tips when preparing for an intercept survey project.

concessions-stand

Keep It Short

Intercept survey respondents are typically “on-the-go.” They may be going to purchase something at a concession stand during halftime, or leaving the facility after the event. To ensure the research company and end client is represented in a positive fashion, it’s important for the intercept survey to be short. At RMS, whenever possible we try to ensure the intercept survey is around 5 minutes or less. A great market research firm will be knowledgeable in survey creation techniques and constructing creative questions in order to obtain the maximum amount of information in a short amount of time.

Be Flexible

Depending upon the respondent’s comfort level with technology, the interviewer may complete the survey for the respondent, or provide them with a tablet to complete on their own. It’s important for interviewers to be equipped with the proper equipment when conducting intercept surveys. In our experience, tablets work best, and allow the interviewer to adapt to the survey environment. For example, we’ve learned that in a stadium, Wi-Fi reception may be spotty and our interviewers need to be equipped with wireless hot spots to ensure they have access to the internet in order to connect to the digital survey. To make sure we are always flexible with our environment, we also have an offline survey option which allows our interviewers to collect survey responses without needing the internet to save them.

Make it Worth Their While

Over the years we have found that even a small incentive has a positive impact on the intercept survey response rate. The bottom line is – make it worth their while. It doesn’t need to be expensive. We have had great success in offering rewards such as a $2.50 coffee shop gift card, credits for a free movie rental or Amazon purchase, or a coupon for a free drink or food item at the venue where the surveys are being conducted. When providing an incentive, it’s also important to consider the timing of the intercept survey as it relates to the incentive. For example, if you’re distributing a coupon for a free beverage at a football stadium, it would be best to conduct the intercept interviews around halftime rather than the end of the game. Enough time will have passed for patrons to provide their perception of the stadium and facilities, while also ensuring they still have time to use their free beverage coupon.

RMS is a full-service market research firm with a long history of conducting intercept surveys in a wide array of settings. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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The following post was written by Samadhi Moreno, Healthcare Research Associate at RMS.

blog-CAHPS-concerns-misconceptions

I recently listened to a new AHRQ Podcast on the common concerns and misconceptions regarding the CAHPS surveys. The title of the podcast series was “CAHPS Surveys: Sorting Fact from Fiction” by Rebecca Anhang-Price.

CAHPS results are used for pay per performance measures and are publicly reported to encourage consumer’s involvement in their healthcare and promote quality improvement initiatives. Survey results impact reimbursement, so it is important to understand the common misconceptions providers may have regarding CAHPS surveys.

Some of the important points of the podcast include:

  • It is a common misconception that patient surveys do not provide valid information about care quality. The Institute of Medicine identifies patient centeredness as an important element of quality of care. The CAHPS surveys offer valid and reliable data to measure patient centeredness and patient experience.
  • CAHPS surveys measure patient experience, which is an important factor in quality of care that can only be measured by patient surveys. Good patient experience is correlated with good clinical outcomes, and is the reason CAHPS surveys are used for payment programs and performance measures.
  • CAHPS Survey offer patients an opportunity to voice their opinions. The results in contrast, help patients choose a provider based on the experience of care.
  • There seems to be a common misconception on whether patients are “knowledgeable” enough to report good care. However, if we take a look at the CAHPS surveys, these instruments ask patients to report on their experience of care. Patients are the best source for this type of information because they experience the care first hand. The CAHPS surveys do not assess any type of technical work, but rather complement existing technical measures.
  • Patient’s experience is not influenced by whether the physician chooses a treatment protocol that fulfills the patient desires, but focuses on how well the providers communicate about the treatment option chosen. There is no evidence that offering unnecessary care will increase CAHPS scores in providers.
  • There are certain strategies physicians can utilize to improve patient experience, such as:
    • Involving the patient in the decision making process
    • Discussing the context of the patient’s requests
    • Proposing alternatives to patient requests
  • Lastly, providers might be concerned with how the patient population served can affect the providers CAHPS scores. However, CAHPS scores included in the publically reported results are case-mix adjusted to account for the variation in the populations served by physicians.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a full service marketing and market research and consulting firm located in Baldwinsville, NY. As an approved CAHPS Vendor,  RMS’ Healthcare Department is composed of two divisions:(1) Healthcare Analytics and (2) Healthcare Practice Transformation. The Healthcare Analytics team is responsible for several aspects of the CAHPS Survey Administrations including the following product lines:  HCAHPS®, HH-CAHPS®, CG-CAHPS®, and ICH CAHPS®. The Practice Transformation team handles the coordination of quality initiatives to assist clients achieving Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recognition. To learn more about our healthcare services, contact Sandy Baker, Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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incentive

It is common practice for market researchers to encourage participation in research studies by providing incentives. What many researchers struggle with is the decision to provide multiple incentives of a smaller value, or fewer incentives of a larger value, as well as, what type of incentive to offer. Which option will encourage optimal participation? Opinions vary on the best approach, but there are a couple tips to keep in mind when deciding which incentive strategy to utilize to encourage voluntary participation.

  1. Consider the Methodology

How are you gathering the data? Are you implementing a focus group, online survey, telephone survey, or in-depth interviews? Or perhaps you will use a mixed-mode approach. It’s important to be mindful of the differences in time commitment for each of these modalities, and be prepared to reward participants accordingly. For example, focus groups and in-depth interviews tend to take the most time to complete, and will therefore require a larger investment (in most cases) than a 5-minute online survey. An additional caveat to consider with focus groups is the travel time invested on the part of the participant. Unlike a survey respondent who can participate remotely via numerous electronic devices, a typical focus group participant must be physically present and responsible for their own transportation. This additional level of investment on behalf of the participant influences the incentive expectation.

  1. Consider the Content

Regardless of the research modality chosen, the content being requested from the participant will play a large role in response rate. If the content is perceived too personal for the incentive being offered, the response rate will drop. In that case, it will be critical to understand the incentive preferences of the target audience. More on that topic below.

  1. Consider the Audience

Do you know anything about the preferences of your audience? For example, a younger group of participants may find value in knowing that upon the completion of a survey, they will be guaranteed a free Redbox code which can be redeemed for a DVD rental, while an online survey targeting senior citizens may not find as much success with that approach. There are a myriad of incentive options available, from every gift card imaginable, to digital codes for Redbox and Amazon, product giveaways (such as the commonly used iPad giveaway), and good old fashioned cash. If you are in tune with your target audience, you may already have the data you need to determine which incentive is the optimal choice. Do you have demographic information such as age, gender, educational attainment, and current work status? Using available demographic information may allow you to make an educated inference into the preferences of your target audience.

  1. Consider Incentive Fees

Some gift cards require activation fees, and unless the incentive is in the form of a digital code that can be emailed, the incentive will require fees for postage and internal administrative costs to prepare the mailings. These costs can add up quickly depending upon the expected number of completions from the study, so it will be important to set aside a portion of the project budget to cover these expenses.

  1. Consider Experimenting

If your organization routinely conducts research, the best approach may be trial and error. Start with an incentive strategy that current knowledge of the audience suggests may be most valuable, and update accordingly. Consider experimenting with different types of incentives (cash, products, and gift cards), the value of the incentive, and number awarded. Here at RMS, we routinely conduct focus groups, online surveys, in-depth interviews, and telephone interviews, so we have been able to establish a general guideline that has proven effective for our clients. The golden rule of thumb, however, is that you must consider the research project holistically – the methodology, content, target audience, and project budget – when creating an incentive strategy. Taking the time to create an incentive plan appropriate for the target audience well before conducting fieldwork will set the stage for success.

If you’re interested in conducting a market research project, contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 315-635-9802.

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Of all the techniques used in quantitative market research, weighting can be one of the most useful…and one the trickiest to apply properly. Among the various weighting approaches available, rim weighting is an especially valuable addition to the researcher’s toolbox.

The “rim” in rim weighting comes from the acronym for Random Iterative Method. The name may sound complex, but like any kind of weighting, it’s a solution to a fairly straightforward problem – the need to adjust a sample so that it is representative of the target population. This need arises frequently in market research cases where low response to a survey among certain segments leads to a dataset that is not representative of known population characteristics. For example, if a researcher knows that her target population is split evenly among gender lines, yet 65% of the survey responses are from women, she may need to use weighting during the analysis to allow for the skewed response pattern.

Of course, only having to worry about the proportionality of just one characteristic is easy. Unfortunately, we often have to ensure that our data matches the population in a variety of ways – not just gender, but also age, income and any number of other traits.  That’s where rim weighting comes in. The technique allows the analyst to adjust multiple characteristics in a dataset all at the same time in a way that it ultimately keeps the different characteristics proportionate as a whole.

To use a very simple example, let’s say that we know that a target population of college students is divided as follows in terms of gender and age distribution:

Male

40%
Female 60%

 

18-24 70%
25-34 25%
35 or older 5%

Now, let’s say that we conduct a student survey, and the demographics of our respondents look like this:

Male 30%
Female 70%

18-24 65%
25-34 20%
35 or older 15%

When we analyze the results, we know that we want to use weighting based on the known distributions of the student population. Rim weighting allows us to weight both characteristics at the same time. It does this by using an algorithm that distorts each variable as little as possible. The ultimate result is a weighted data that closely matches the target population across all the pre-defined dimensions.

Rim weighting is useful when you know some characteristics of your target population, but you aren’t sure about the relationship between them. In the case of the example above, we knew that 40% of our population were males and 5% were 35 or older, but we didn’t know what percentage of the population were males who were also 35 or older.  By making adjustments to multiple characteristics at the same time, rim weighting infers that information for us.

That last point is important, because it shows one of the limitations of rim weighting. If there is a strong relationship between two characteristics, for example household size and marital status, rim weighting based on those characteristics would probably produce an inaccurate result.  Rim weighting is also most effective when the actual values don’t differ a great deal from the target values. (That is true of weighting in general, as we have written about here.)  In the example of our student survey, if the respondent pool was 5% male and 95% female, rim weighting would not produce as accurate of an analysis.

Keeping those limitations in mind, rim weighting is an extremely valuable analysis tool to market researchers in the right situation.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning how we can help you turn data into actionable insights, contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

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In this era of smart phones and social media, it’s never been easier for organizations to communicate with their customers and prospects. That’s mostly a good thing from an overall marketing perspective. From a market research perspective, it’s proven to be somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, researchers have new, often more cost-effective ways to reach consumers and obtain faster results. On the other hand, the fact that the opportunities for research have grown, particularly surveying, leads to an increasing number of people feeling as if they are being bombarded with too many surveys.

Over-surveying customers

Are you over-surveying your customers?

This 2012 article from the New York Times explains how many American consumers are losing their patience with well-meaning attempts to survey them about their experiences. The issue isn’t just limited to the United States. An article from the British-based Customer Experience Magazine explains how over-surveying customers can actually be counter-productive to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) efforts.

Regardless of which country consumers live in, the psychology behind feeling over-surveyed is the same. This post from the blog Consumerthink.com does a good job of laying out one of the main dynamics of the issue. As the author points out, “When you ask a customer to take a few minutes to do a survey, you are asking the customer to do you a favor. Most people have a natural instinct to help, and don’t mind. But if you keep asking over and over and over, pretty soon doing a favor feels like a burden.”

At RMS, surveys are one of the key and most valuable services we offer to our clients. As such, we would never argue against surveying in general. But we do acknowledge that over-surveying is a legitimate issue in market research and believe that researchers and their clients should take measures to prevent wearing out the public with too many surveys. With that in mind, we offer these 9 tips to avoid over-surveying your customers:

  • 1) Only survey when you plan to actually use the data – This might sound obvious, but the sad truth is that many organizations administer surveys and never take action on the data. In a lot of cases, we suspect that these organizations are conducting surveys simply because other firms in their industry do, and they believe it’s just expected of them or “the right thing to do.” At best, this is a waste of time and effort. But in an environment where consumers are feeling increasingly over-communicated with, contacting them for a survey you ultimately won’t do anything which adds to the problem.
  • 2) Make sure that the surveys you administer are professionally designed and executed – Respondents quickly lose patience with surveys that are poorly written and designed. Nobody has time to figure out what a vaguely-worded question really means, or to struggle to follow along with an instrument that’s poorly laid out or routed.  This problem has gotten worse with the proliferation of survey software like Survey Monkey, that not only increase the volume of surveys sent, but have also led to more of them being created by people without an understanding of the basics of survey design. Sending out a flawed survey instrument not only ensures flawed results, it also tries the patience of the intended audience.
  • 3) Don’t make surveys longer than they need to be – One of the main reasons some people avoid surveys is because they fear they will take too much time.Survey fatigue is a real phenomenon and promises to become more of a problem as attention spans get shorter. Researchers need to respond with shorter surveys that will not only reduce the fatigue level of those who take them, but also hopefully win back people who have shied away from surveys because of the time factor.
  • 4) Be mindful of how many “touches” a potential survey respondent gets from you. Don’t overdo it. As research panels grow in use, the issue of over-surveying panel members warrants a great deal of concern. Hitting panel members up for surveys too frequently will cause many of them to either start ignoring the invitations or to leave the panel altogether. At the same time, researchers need to be careful that those who accept all those survey invitations don’t become “professional survey takers” who become so exposed to market research that their value as respondents is compromised.  As RMS maintains and grows its ViewPoint research panel, making sure that we are not over-surveying our members has been one of our main priorities.
  • 5) If you use phone surveys, make sure your callers are professional and personable – This is another one that sounds obvious in theory, but isn’t exercised enough in practice. When the public feels over-surveyed, they certainly aren’t going to make time for a rude or robotic voice on the phone, nor should they. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: call center reps are not a commodity.
  • 6) If you use online surveys, make sure that your invites and reminders don’t seem like spam – One of the biggest factors in the 21st Century that makes people feel like victims of information overload is unwanted email.  Because it’s such a wide-spread annoyance, as a society, we’ve become pretty good at filtering it out and ignoring it. If your online survey invites look or read like spam, or if they become spam-like in their frequency, they will get filtered out and ignored by their intended recipients. It’s that simple. To get around this, keep the invitations short, to the point and avoid trigger words that might land your correspondence in a junk mail folder. Also, don’t overdo it in terms of frequency. An initial invite plus one or two reminders to non-responders is usually enough.
  • 7)Consider alternative ways of obtaining information you want from a survey – Surveys are incredibly useful research tools, but they aren’t the only ones at your disposal. Sometimes the information you’re looking for can be obtained through syndicated or other secondary research, government databases, feedback from your sales force and service reps, qualitatively focused in-depth interviews with just a few customers, or even past research that you recently conducted. As an added bonus, those methods should all be less expensive and probably faster than conducting a brand new survey.
  • 8) Let potential respondents know how taking the survey can benefit them – Most of your potential survey respondents are probably nice people, but let’s face it: Even nice people are more willing to do something for you if there’s something in it for them. With that said, consider sweepstakes or other incentives as a way to reward people for taking the time to do a survey. Also, be sure to remind them that the feedback they give will help improve the service and offerings you provide in the future. (If you’re approaching market research the right way, that will be true.)
  • 9) Above all, consider how any survey might enhance or detract from the long-term relationship you are trying to build with your customers/the public – In other words, keep the big picture in mind. The relationship you have with customers is your most valuable asset. When the insights you gain from a survey will ultimately help you strengthen that relationship, then by all means survey. But when you do so, use the previous 8 tips to avoid going about it in a way that might harm that relationship.

Can you think of any more tips? Comment below.

The Director of Business Development at Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) can be reached at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

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Intercept surveys/interviews can be a great method for obtaining data for a research project. On-site interviews are one of the best choices when you need top-of-mind feedback or need to speak to an audience that visited a specific location. We’re currently in the process of conducting multiple projects that have an intercept interview component, so we put together a few tips for conducting intercept interviews. Here are a few case studies for past intercept survey projects conducted by our firm, RMS:

  1. Mall intercept survey company case study
  2. Restaurant intercept survey vendor case study
  3. Movie theater intercept survey case study

mall intercept survey company

Here are 7 tips for conducting intercept interviews:

  • Be Friendly – Smile! Nobody wants to conduct an interview with someone who doesn’t seem interested in the questions they are asking. Our experienced interviewers have mentioned time and time again that being friendly is overwhelmingly the most important aspect for being a productive interviewer. Being friendly allows the interviewer to quickly build a rapport and obtain quality data from the respondents. The secondary benefit to having the respondent conduct an interview with a friendly and professional representative is that it leaves the respondent with a more positive view (as well as an increased awareness) of the end client’s products and services.
  • Dress The Part – Intercept interviewers act as a representative of the client and it’s important that they dress professionally. Dressing the part gives the interviewer the appearance of “belonging” at that location and makes the respondent feel more comfortable.
  • Identify Yourself – Along with dressing professionally comes properly identifying yourself to the respondent. The interviewer should wear a name tag that identifies him/herself and also the company that they are working on behalf of. Since the interviewer may be working for a market research company that the respondent is ultimately not aware of, it’s important that their name badge presents a brand the consumer is familiar with (i.e. the logo of the mall where the interviews are being conducted).
  • Approach the Respondent – It’s important that the interviewer keeps moving. If they’re sitting at a table, hoping somebody is going to approach them to conduct a survey, the fieldwork is going to be very unproductive.
  • Position Yourself In Multiple Locations – If applicable, it’s important to conduct intercept interviews in multiple locations. For example, if you’re conducting surveys for a mall, you absolutely do not want all of the interviewers to sit outside of the electronics store for the whole day. Doing this will limit the audience that you speak to and will ultimately skew the data. It’s best to station yourself in a variety of locations to capture the thoughts of different audiences.
  • State Your Purpose – People are afraid of being sucked into a sales pitch for a product or service they don’t want to buy. Since many consumers have their guard up when being approached by a representative it’s important that the interviewers state that they are just conducting a quick survey, and aren’t looking to sell anything. We’ve found that getting past this barrier is one of the best ways to have the individual agree to complete the survey. If the individual still refuses, it’s time to move on!
  • Be Honest – Be realistic about the time it will take to complete the interview. If you tell the respondent it will take 1 minute, and 10 minutes later they see they still have multiple questions left – they can easily just walk away (and most likely won’t be happy with their experience). It’s important to always be honest about the time to complete the survey, especially when you are an active representative of a brand.

These are the main aspects of the interview process that help make our fieldwork productive and our projects successful. Our interviewing teams utilize these tips when they are in the field and help create the foundation for our research projects.  If you’re interested in conducting mall intercept surveys or any other type of intercept interviews with Research & Marketing Strategies, feel free to contact Sandy Baker at (866) 567-5422 or e-mail her at SandyB@RMSresults.com.

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We’ve referenced it before on this blog, people are “time poor” and keeping a survey short is more critical than ever in our industry. If a survey goes too long (with that threshold being debatable: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes), the respondent will either become disengaged or simply hang up. We are not big fans of either. Shortening the length of all surveys including telephone methodologies, is critical to improving engagement and data quality, improving productivity, and quickening fieldwork.

Here are 4 basic and usable tips to help shorten telephone surveys:

1. Ask birth year open-ended instead of running through a list of age ranges. This has benefits beyond just reducing time to ask. By having the survey caller ask for year of birth, he or she can easily type that into a quantity box through CATI rather than reading through a long progressive list of “Under 18 years of age, 18 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44”, and so on. Capturing birth year also helps with longitudinal uses of the data. For instance, if you want to revisit the respondents and conduct a similar survey 5 years from now you won’t need to re-ask the age question to update the ranges (as some aged 33 would now be in the next highest age range of 35 to 44) because you’ll already have the birth year data on-hand. This trick reduces the time to ask and keeps more ‘seasoned’ respondents happy.

shorten the length of a telephone survey

Reaction from a frustrated respondent who had to wait too long for his age category to be read by a survey caller.

2. Word associations. This is something that we are using more and more in each survey here at Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS). This is a quick and easy way to capture a word or phrase that describes a brand, company, or product rather than typing in a long-winded response on the topic that may be covered elsewhere in the survey through a close-ended question. Word associations work great for Wordles which are graphical displays of word counts.

3. Using categories for open-ended questions. This is a process by which the survey caller still asks the question open-ended but selects from a provided list of categories the open-ended response falls into with an option for ‘other’. For example, if the respondent provides you a long response about how he or she chooses a bank or credit union based on how close the nearest branch is to his or her home because it makes it easier to stop in on the way to and from work, you would select the ‘Location/Convenience’ category.

4. Consult with your client to determine most critical information. As a market researcher it is your job at the kickoff meeting to decipher between main objectives and secondary objectives of a study. Main objectives are the must have answers the client needs to make the results actionable (what is the awareness of my organization, what is the image of my organization, how satisfied are my customers, etc.) Secondary objectives are the less critical questions that may need to be cut to abide to time limits or question limits in the telephone survey. Just make sure you are working closely with the client to understand what you can afford to cut.

Are you looking to conduct a telephone survey and need a market research consultant to assist you with the process. The RMS team can work with you to ensure your telephone survey script will maximize your return on investment. Contact our Business Development Director, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 315-635-9802.

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Survey fatigue is a real problem. The days of the 15-plus minute survey have come to an end or are nearing their end rather quickly. In general, people always feel pressed for time and that burns true at both ends of the survey candle, from respondents not having the time to take long 15-plus minute surveys, to top management not having the time to review findings from all of the questions covered in a 15-plus minute survey.

So inevitably, the question becomes: “How can we get more with less?”

The question is an interesting one because it works on two facets:

  • (1) In addition to respondents not willing to stay long to answer survey questions, if a respondent “drops out” of a survey that means they actually had to “drop in” to take the survey in the first place. In reality, getting a person to participate in a survey is a larger barrier than keeping them in the survey. A firm that can create a reputation for making surveys fun and interactive will not only get respondents to remain engaged in the survey longer, but also get more respondents into the top of the funnel to participate. Therefore, you get more return and more survey completes with less sampling effort.
  • (2) Making surveys interactive by using heat maps and images keeps the respondent engaged and attentive. What is going to provide a company with more genuine data? A) Showing a respondent a picture of a new concept vehicle’s interior dashboard and asking them to pick the first three things they see that are most important to them or B) Using a written grid series using 1 to 10 scales of importance asking the respondent to rate 12 features of a  new concept vehicle’s dashboard? Images help recreate a consumer experience in market research and make the data more authentic. You get more quality data, all while having the respondent spend less time doing so.

With that being said, what exactly is a heat map and how can you use visuals in online surveys for better insights?

A heat map is a graphical representation of data where information is displayed in tiered zones or matrices using different colors to illuminate variances. The differences in colors show variances in frequency in looking at/scanning specific pieces of an image. Heat maps and image selection tasks can be applied to many online survey projects, but some of the most relevant applications are for visual stimuli testing (print advertisements, store displays, etc.), website usability testing (where do people look on my homepage?) and new product concept testing. It also works great for point-of-purchase goods where shelf placement, branding and packaging all impact a buyer’s decision to consider a product.

Here is a theoretical example of a print advertisement displayed through a theoretical online survey screen. A simple question can ask the respondent to click on the first item that catches their eye, second item, third item, etc. The colors show frequency of clicks (dark red represents a higher number of clicks, yellow represents a lower number of clicks, followed by green, and lastly white). Additional follow-up questions can be asked to probe as to why that item caught their eye, what they liked and what they disliked about each zone clicked. Heat maps illuminate what your customers and potential customers are looking at first and their impressions of it. In this instance, this technique helps the business optimize and re-focus the print ad so it stands the best chance of being noticed by customers to generate leads.

online survey heatmap

Example of RMS Heat Mapping

Below is a theoretical example of a heat map for a website’s homepage. Heat mapping techniques work great for website usability testing so a business can understand where visitors are focusing their attention on web pages. The online survey would include a question on the prior screen, which states: “The next page of this survey will show you a screen shot of a market research firm’s homepage. When you click “next” please use your mouse to hover over the point on the webpage that first catches your attention and click there for some follow-up questions.” The data collected from these efforts would be represented through colored zones, similar to what we viewed in the print advertisement above. The top three clicked areas on the market research firm’s website homepage were: 40% clicked on the ‘superior marketing’ slogan on the top left, 18% clicked on the ‘what do we do?’ paragraph, and 11% clicked on the homepage buttons – ‘about’, ‘services’, ‘industries’, etc.

If you are interested in using our heat map technology and reporting for your website usability testing, concept testing or ad testing, RMS can assist your business with its needs. Contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling (315) 635-9802.

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Most marketers understand that the demographics of a population are largely a question of “Where?”

Finding the right consumer often comes down to targeting the right cities, zip codes or neighborhoods. That’s certainly true in market research, but a consideration of equal importance to a successful study is the question of “When?” – as in when are the best times to collect data?

There are some audiences that are best reached in the daytime hours. Obviously, most B2B research requires fieldwork to take place during the traditional 9 to 5 business hours. Stay-at-home parents are accessible during the day and a segment of this group is especially available during the hours when school is in session. RMS has found through its past research involving the senior market that retired seniors are easy to reach during the daytime; for methodologies such as focus groups that require them to travel, they generally prefer to participate during the day as opposed to the evening. But when it comes to a traditional telephone survey administered to a non-niche consumer audience composed largely of working adults, evenings are the by far best time to call.

Not only does calling after 5 p.m. generally improve the incidence rate of a survey, it also helps to ensure that the respondents are as representative as possible of the overall market – at least with regards to age. Below are some combined statistics from two past RMS telephone survey projects conducted in the Central New York region that illustrate that point. (The table and the graph display the same data sets in different formats):

chart

graph

In the counties where these surveys were conducted, the percentage of adults over the age of 65 is about 20 percent. Note how the calls made after 5 p.m. resulted in a respondent composition of 24 percent in the 65+ group – within four points of the actual population, whereas making the calls before 5 p.m. resulted in 37 percent of respondents being 65+; a full 17 points higher than the actual.

Meanwhile, those aged 25 to 64 (the prime workforce age range) represent 70 percent of the actual market. Surveying before 5 p.m. produced a respondent base wherein 60 percent fell within that range – 10 points shy of the actual. On the other hand, calls made after 5 p.m. resulted in 73 percent of the respondents falling within the 25 to 64 age range.

Again, this data represents the combined results from just two surveys, but our past experience and anecdotal observations of our call center staff lead us to believe we would find similar results by examining the data from similar telephone survey projects. (And we may do just that by revisiting the issue in a future post.)

There will be times it isn’t important for respondents of a phone survey to be representative in terms of age or other workforce-related criteria. But when that is a priority, it’s important to remember that evening surveying should make up the majority of the data collection efforts for B2C studies. Once all the effort and expense has been undertaken to ensure your sample matches the needs of the project, it would be a shame to skew the results by calling the sample records during the wrong time of day.

Do you have any insights or opinions about how the time of day that a survey is being conducted can influence the results? Please tell us about it in the comments section.

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One of the largest barriers we face as a market research firm in Syracuse, NY, is our prospective clients stating they are using/will use online survey sites such as Survey Monkey and Zoomerang to conduct their research. The cost savings up-front (and I emphasize up-front) are hard to ignore. In many cases, you can use online survey software and conduct your business’s survey in-house for free or a few hundred dollars if you opt-in to one of the paid packages. Similar studies commissioned through a market research firm can easily be five times to 10 times that amount. Therefore, many of the small and even mid-size businesses we work with face a real dilemma trying to explain to their board or their boss why they decided to use an outside consultant or third-party market research firm for their survey rather than doing it in-house through Survey Monkey. Before you decide to start, here are some questions you should ask before doing a market research project in-house.

When I emphasized up-front (above), this really focused on “assumed cost savings” for the client. Let’s say a client can do a survey through Survey Monkey for $500, and let’s say the cost to use a market research firm for that same study is $3,000. So, it’s a pretty easy calculation for the client, the assumed cost savings is $2,500. But let’s say the team uses Survey Monkey and biases the instrument, asks the wrong questions and, as a result, they are given misguided results – results that cost the business hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of the next six months. By using a professional market research consultant, we can guarantee that the survey instrument will be removed from bias, we’ll ask the right questions and you will be given accurate, representative and valuable results. Results that could increase your business’s revenues by hundreds of thousands of dollars. The real trade-off then is how much is your business willing to risk by not doing the survey or the market research correctly?

dangers of using online survey sites

Here is a theoretical case study that is meant solely to walk you through a scenario where one decision-tree takes the online survey site route while the other takes the third-party market research vendor route. All of the information in this theoretical case study is simply that – theoretical. It’s a helpful visual that aids in explaining a situation and the danger with using online survey sites.

dangers of using online survey sites

Are you interested in contacting Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) to receive a quote on your online survey? RMS can work with your team to write the survey script, sample correctly, manage the fieldwork, analyze the results and provide action items and recommendations. All of which will save you and your team countless hours. To learn more, contact Sandy Baker, our Business Development Director at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling (315) 635-9802.

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