Conducting survey research

Editor’s note: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “Survey Research Strategies 101.” 

So, you want to conduct survey research – but where do you begin? Survey research is an excellent way to perform market analysis, get to know your customers better, measure interest in products and services and more. For survey research to be effective it is essential to know the purpose, the different methods for performing it, its advantages and the key survey research strategies for a flawless execution.

This article will cover everything you need to know about survey research, including four key steps for carrying out your survey research strategies. It will also cover why online surveys should be used for research so you can better understand the purpose as a holistic approach for marketing your products or services. 

What is survey research?

Survey research is a process of researching a variety of different topics and collecting data primarily by performing surveys. A survey is a questionnaire that is sent out to willing participants. It can be performed in several different ways, from in person to online. Advancements in digital technologies have made online surveys an incredibly powerful tool, allowing you to reach a diverse range of survey participants from across the globe. 

Where online surveys can be conducted

Survey platforms

One of the best ways to gain valuable results from your surveys is to use a professional survey platform. A survey platform can offer you access a larger pool of willing participants who are likely compensated for their time and effort, leading to quicker and more in-depth responses. 

E-mail newsletters

While establishing an audience for an e-mail newsletter can take time, it can be a great way to conduct survey research. Typically, the audience for a newsletter will be niche which can limit the types of questions and responses gained from the survey.

Social media

Social media platforms have become a major hub for online social interactions, making them a good place to go for basic survey research needs. Platforms like Instagram and Twitter, for example, allow you to create multiple-choice polls that followers can view and answer at their leisure. 

Website questionnaires

For anyone with a website, you can create survey questions or questionnaires that appear when someone visits the webpage. If you are particularly savvy in web development, you can create different types of survey pop-ups to appear for different customers, such as one set of questions for returning visitors and a different one for new customers. 

While all these methods for online survey research have their own advantages, using a professional survey platform is often the best way to connect with a wider array of survey participants. The advantages of survey research simply come from the wide variety of options that exist for polling and asking consumers questions. Plus, online survey platforms typically offer incentives for respondents. On the other hand, for the other methods, it is up to you to incentivize your followers, subscribers or web visitors to respond. 

The purpose and importance of survey research

If you have never performed survey research before, you may find yourself wondering why you should even bother with it. The truth is that survey research provides many key benefits for businesses and brands of all sizes, and differing survey research strategies offer different outcomes and results. Below are some key benefits of survey research.

Improved business development.

One of the key advantages of survey research is the opportunity for business development. Conducting survey research allows you to carry out essential research for your business, from gauging interest in new products to questioning potential customers on what a brand can do to make them more loyal. 

Enhanced customer experiences.

Asking your potential customers questions via survey research enables you to identify pain points in the customer experience, both within your business and in other businesses or services they may have used. By doing so, you can use this information to enhance the customer experience for your audience – and potentially increase loyalty as well. 

Improved trend analysis.

Trends in business are massively important as they can play a huge role in marketing and other essential tasks. Surveying your target audience can inform you of what trends your audience is engaging with and which trends are irrelevant to your industry or niche, allowing you to create a more precise marketing strategy. 

Increased engagement and brand awareness.

When carrying out survey research strategies you have the chance to connect with members of your target audience who have potentially never heard of your business or brand before. As a result, your research can provide not just valuable insights for business development, the customer experience and trend analysis, but also increase your overall brand awareness and engagement with potential customers. 

When should survey research be used?

In terms of when you should use survey research, the answer is all the time! Survey research can be useful in many instances, making it an important process to carry out on more than one occasion. Key use cases for survey research include:

  • Gauging public interest in a new product or service.
  • Identifying issues with the customer experience (and how customers would like to see these issues be solved in the future).
  • Analyzing the current trends in your industry.
  • Getting to know potential customers.
  • Researching what makes your target audience feel loyal to a brand.
  • Asking survey participants what business improvements they would like to see.

Four steps for developing a survey research strategy

Now that we have covered the what, when and why of survey research, let’s discuss the how. Developing a survey research strategy requires a few key steps for it to be effective. It is important to take time to make your survey strategy strong to make the most out of your questions and results. Below are four essential steps for developing survey research strategies.

1. Set goals and find your target audience.

Before you begin writing questions, you should first identify your target audience and outline the main research goals. This will help you write more specific and relevant questions that will produce useful results you can use to reach your business goals. 

2. Write the survey questions.

Once you know what types of respondents you are targeting, it is time to write your questions. You can choose between two main types of questions — multiple choice or open response. With both, you should use clear and simple language that is easy for the respondent to understand quickly. 

3. Find your audience.

Not only do you need to determine who your target audience is, but you also need to figure out where they are. With online surveys, you can target respondents based on a few different factors, including their online behavior, what social platforms they use most frequently and where they are located.

4. Send the questions and analyze the results. 

Now that you have your questions and target audience selected, it’s time to send the questions. As soon as you begin receiving responses, start organizing and analyzing your results. Depending on the overall responses you receive, you can take the next steps towards achieving your business goals or carry out a second survey to gather additional information. 

Gathering data and insights from real people in real time is essential for effective survey research strategies. Furthermore, understanding the survey research definition and what it means for your business will greatly increase your chances of achieving your overall goals.