10 survey starter tips for effective market research

To celebrate the weekend, here are 10 tidbits for effectively finding out, via surveys, what the opinion of your customers/followers/fans/loyalists might be, in order to better your product, marketing, customer service, and/or everything in betweeen.

1)    Define your objectives. You don’t want a lot of them.

2)    Are these objectives actionable? Meaning, if you achieve them, can you base decisions or change on them?

3)    Define your scope (who you are surveying).

4)    Avoid long surveys.

  1. It should never take a person more than 20 minutes to complete a survey.
  2. Optimal length is 2-10 minutes.
  3. Write visually. Make it easy to complete.

5)    How many responses is enough?

6)    Don’t make the survey taker say “Huh?” This problem is easy to avoid. Create an ad hoc committee that takes the survey first before it’s released.

7)    Remember that a bias exists based on social desirability, which affects the reliability of yes/no and agree/disagree questions.

8)    Give limited weight to votes, counts and written comments.

9)    Prioritize facilitator’s report over your own opinions.

10) Get help from external sources to create adequate surveys for optimal results: hire an agency, institutional research, professor, student, etc.

Friday bonus: I heard this story recently from a former Sony market researcher. During the early planning stages for the then-new Sony Walkman, a focus group was asked, “What color Walkman do you think most people would be more likely to buy: black or yellow?” Overwhelmingly, members of the focus group responded that most consumers would purchase a black Walkman. At the end of the focus group, everyone was allowed to choose a black or a yellow Walkman to take home as a gift for participating. Everyone chose a yellow one.

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3 thoughts on “10 survey starter tips for effective market research

  1. […] that helped me form the surveys I have had to distribute recently. Many were from a writer from AbbyMilikPR and she has many more tips, if you are […]

  2. zmfrederick says:

    I just wrote a post detailing some advice on how to write better survey questions. My #1 piece of advice is to avoid complicated sentences. Keep it simple, stupid, is an especially good piece of advice when composing a survey! Check it out if you’re looking for help:


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