In market research, how questions are framed is as critical as the questions themselves. This step focuses on constructing questions that are straightforward—eliminating any chances for misunderstanding.
Avoid Ambiguous Questions: Ensure each question is clear and direct. Instead of asking, "How much do you like product X?" be more specific: "Overall, how much do you like the package of product X?"
Specify the Subject: Clarify what you are asking about to avoid vague responses. For instance, rather than "How often do you buy product X?" ask "How often do you buy product X for home use?"
Be Clear About the Timeframe: Define the period for the response, like changing "Have you used product X recently?" to "Have you used product X in the past year?"
Avoid Double-Barrelled Questions: Split questions with multiple parts into separate ones. For example, replace "Why do you use X cream?" with "What is the main purpose for which you use X cream?" and "How did you start using X cream?"
Separate Different Concepts: Avoid combining multiple ideas in one question. Instead of asking, "How attractive is the design and cost performance of X?" split it into two: "How attractive do you find the design of X?" and "How do you rate the cost performance of X?"
Distinguish Between Facts and Perceptions: Separate factual data from subjective experience, e.g., replace "Have you bought X that is easy to use in the past month?" with "Have you bought X in the past month?" followed by "Was X easy to use?"
Simplify the Language: Make questions easy to understand and avoid jargon. Instead of "Please list all manufacturers you recognise," opt for "Please list all manufacturers you know."
Be Direct and Concise: Keep questions short and to the point. For example, "How often do you use your coworking space?" is preferable to longer, more convoluted versions.
Consistency in Language: Maintain uniformity in terminology and sentence structure. Ensure that similar types of questions are worded consistently.
Avoid Leading Questions: Refrain from framing questions in a way that suggests a certain answer. Replace "I have a question about the highly popular X" with a neutral "I have a question about X".
Non-Discriminatory Language: Always use terms and phrases that are inclusive and non-offensive.
By adhering to these basic principles, businesses can ensure their survey questionnaires are clear, precise, and easy for respondents to understand, leading to more reliable and useful data collection.
Step 6: Organise the Sequence of Questions
Step 6 focuses on the strategic ordering of questions in the survey. This step is crucial, as the sequence can significantly influence the respondents' answers and overall experience.
Understanding the Impact of Question Order
When creating surveys, the order in which questions are presented is crucial. This order can greatly affect the actual choices of respondents, and so lead to biased results. For instance, showing a list of brands before asking respondents to name their favourite brand can influence their answers, often leading them to choose one of the listed brands. To avoid this bias, methods such as randomising or changing the order of questions are used. However, it is important to always consider how the sequence of questions might impact the responses.
Basic Question Order in a Survey:
Start with Easy Questions: Begin with simple, general queries that respondents are likely to know and answer easily. This approach helps to engage them from the start.
Progress to More Complex Topics: Gradually introduce more challenging questions, such as evaluations or predictions, as the survey progresses.
End with Stimulating Questions: Conclude with thought-provoking questions that may involve hypothesis presentation or idea generation.
Effective Order for Engagement and Clarity:
Chronological Flow: Organise questions from past to present and future, ensuring a natural progression of thought.
From Actual to Usual Scenarios: Start with questions about specific, real-life situations before moving on to more typical or habitual scenarios.
Concrete to Abstract: Transition from tangible, straightforward questions to more abstract ones.
Easy-to-Answer to Difficult Questions: Arrange the questions so that respondents gradually move from simpler to more complex questions.
Additional Tips for High Quality Surveys:
Determine Audience Early: Include questions that confirm whether the respondents fit the target demographic near the beginning of the survey.
Consider Question Priority: If the survey is lengthy, ensure that the most important questions are asked first—to guarantee they are answered, especially when the respondent’s attention is at its highest.
By carefully organising the sequence of questions, businesses can ensure a smooth flow that maximises respondent engagement and thus the quality of responses, leading to more reliable and actionable insights from the survey.
Step 7: Define Specifics—Survey Layout and The Number of Questions.
A general guideline is to limit the number of questions, ideally to 20—or fewer—ensuring the survey can be completed within 5 to 10 minutes. This approach helps reduce respondent burden and will improve the quality of answers, especially in online surveys where space is not a constraint.
For surveys requiring extensive responses, consider increasing incentives to encourage participation, or, alternatively, reduce the number of questions if compensation cannot be increased. Clearly specifying the duration of the survey upfront is also recommended.
Step 8: Review and Refine the Previous Steps
This re-examination is important to ensure every aspect of the survey is well-aligned with your research objectives. Where needed, make adjustments to the survey design, question wording, sequence, and overall structure.
This step ensures that the survey remains focused, coherent, and capable of generating very valuable insights.
Step 9: Conducting a Pretest
After completing the survey, it is essential to conduct a pretest. This step involves trying out the survey—as if you are an actual respondent. It is beneficial to extend this testing beyond just yourself by sharing the survey with a trusted colleague or a small group of people. This approach helps in gaining diverse feedback and perspectives.
Prior to its official distribution, ensure that the survey incorporates all the necessary elements. This includes ensuring each question is numbered, providing clear instructions on how to respond, laying out input columns or fields distinctly, and verifying that any jump instructions or branching paths do actually function as intended.
Navigating Market Research and Surveys with GMO Research
Besides the essential steps outlined in part 1 and 2 of our guide, it is important to recognise that the true potential of a high-quality survey is only realised when it reaches the right audience. The effectiveness of a survey will diminish significantly if it fails to be distributed evenly among high-quality respondents—those with low dropout rates, or those who meet the specified criteria.
At GMO Research, we understand the critical need to reach the right audience in market research surveys. By focusing on robust participant selection and thorough quality checks, we bolster the effectiveness of market research and surveys, leading to insightful decisions and valuable business outcomes.