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Getting the most out of online surveys


Online marketing research has overtaken other methodologies as a more efficient and cost-effective way to obtain market intelligence. Two popular methods of surveying are via online panels and web site intercepts. Which online survey is best for you?

Before you decide, consider how they are different. The people that make up online panels have signed up for the privilege of taking surveys. That’s not the case for those who are visiting a web site to accomplish a task and are not expecting a survey invitation as part of their visit.

Also, online panelists are typically compensated for their participation in the form of a monetary or merchandise incentive. This motivates them to fill out surveys no matter how long they might be. Sometimes you get people who are “taking the survey to actually take the survey” … with less focus on the questions than of the dollar sign at the end. In that case, how accurate are the findings?

With web intercept surveys, the main motivation you can give the participant is a squishy promise to improve the product or service based on the feedback you obtain. Yet, while it might be harder to obtain a sufficient number of completed surveys without a stronger incentive, many companies find the input from these participants to be more valuable.

So how do companies gather good market feedback in web intercept surveys without prior consent or a monetary incentive? Consider employing these tactics to improve your odds:

Keep the survey short – Seven minutes or less should keep your response rate reasonably high.

Make it sound fun or engaging … and don’t forget to emphasize the importance of visitors’ opinions and how these will stimulate product or service enhancements.

Provide survey results Since you aren’t providing a monetary incentive, giving instant feedback to certain questions (where practical) can help motivate people complete the survey. After all, who doesn’t want to compare themselves to how others have “voted” on a questionnaire?

Finally, pay attention to how you’re handling your web intercept invitation. Many companies serve the invitation early in a site visitor’s task completion cycle, but this can be disruptive. Better to offer the invitation when exiting the site, or on the pages that typically appear at the end of the visitor’s completion tasks. Your response rate will likely be better..

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