Editor's note: Al Fitzgerald is president and founder of Answers Research, Inc., Solana Beach, Calif.

As companies strive to gain a footing in today's uncertain economy, marketers are faced with a difficult mission: to conduct the most useful research studies while spending the smallest percentage of their reduced research budgets. It seems, more than ever, marketers are under pressure to retain current customers, tap into additional markets, and refine existing offerings while creating new products/services based on vital customer feedback. With worldwide Internet usage continually rising, online panel research is a logical method to complete actionable and economical market research projects. But despite the surge in popularity of online methods, telephone deployment remains a viable technique. In fact, combining a traditional telephone approach with innovative online deployment methods may be just the way to achieve marketers' sought-after goal of low-cost research with high-quality results.

Here's how it works. Once the survey is finalized, it is programmed for computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) and Web completion. By providing for both techniques simultaneously, programming costs are not increased; this dual-programming accommodates both methodologies. Further, with either method, no respondent is able to take the survey more than once. Any skip patterns, rotations, and randomizations are programmed once but serve a phone or Web purpose. Additionally, English surveys can be translated into multiple languages, including Japanese, Chinese, and Korean character translation.

You've determined who you are targeting when you planned your study and created the survey instrument. Once you have a reliable sample source with which to reach your group you're ready to begin your telephone recruitment. Using the mixed-method approach, participants are screened and initially invited to take ...