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Integrated Marketing Association

Surveys and Research Studies

In the marketing world, surveys and research studies have straightforward goals: to gather feedback and data that delivers insight. Although their intention is rather simple, their methodologies can be quite complex. Strategies for data collection range from simple surveys delivered electronically to in-person focus groups to intensive research procedures.

Market research—an organizations’ process of gathering and interpreting data that ultimately provides valuable insight into their customers, their stance in relationship to competitors, and their industry as a whole—is fueled by the data from surveys and research studies. In today’s data-driven marketplace, conducting this research is table stakes, allowing businesses to align R&D with customer expectations, understand how campaigns are performing, and deliver a better customer experience.

Surveys—especially those conducted online, via mobile apps, or on social media platforms—are generally cost-effective. The preferences gleaned from surveys, coupled with third-party data from outside sources, can provide extensive insight across a broad population. Because surveys are often anonymous, brands can trust the insight they’re receiving is unbiased and dependable.

It’s important for brands to regularly solicit feedback from their audience in the form of surveys and research studies to measure ongoing customer satisfaction, identify potential areas for improvement, and ascertain their position among their competitors.

To create an effective survey or market research strategy, brands must first identify the goal of each solicitation. Sending a questionnaire that is unfocused will not achieve the desired result—and, in many cases, can go unreturned. Depending on the content of the questions, yes or no, open-ended, or a mix of the types of questions may be warranted.

There are four factors in creating a survey with statistical relevance or confidence.

The size of the population, segmentation of that population, the degree of variance (we don’t need to sample very many people if your answers are very similar), and sampling error.

Obviously, the more survey response the better. To boost responses, some companies provide small incentives to encourage customers to give feedback, such as free gifts or other tokens of gratitude.

Tips: Don’t ask questions without knowing how you plan to use the data first.

Whether inviting a person to take a survey online or in person, it’s important to not lead people when asking questions or ask potentially ambiguous questions.

Keep online survey questions to a minimum or you might experience a drop off in survey completions.IMA has seen good success with surveys that take under 10 minutes to complete.

IMA has compiled a list of market research tools including surveys on Martec Showcase that might be helpful for your next research project.

If you need help with your research project, please check out the IMA vendor directory here.

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