If you’ve landed here by Googling information on how to write and test a market research survey, you’ve come to the right place. In the unlikely event Google search has landed you here by a freak accident and what you were really looking for was a survival guide for the post zombie apocalypse, we still might have some useful information for you. You would learn the craft of how to control the new world order and you would do that by learning what tickles the brain of homo sapiens.
At the core, that is what market research is supposed to be about. On the surface, you think you need to create a survey to gauge the satisfaction of people buying whatever exorbitantly priced product you or your client is selling.
No – on the contrary – you are on a quest to figure out three important things:
• What do most people think?
• Why do they think that?
• Most importantly, how can you change what they think? (Yup, the mind control theory.)
“But my dear Crito, why should we pay so much attention to what ‘most people’ think?”
– Socrates per Plato.
Why that quote here and why now?
Because it has stood the test of time…2,400 years and counting, in fact.
Three simple questions before you begin
We detest starting a read where the author keeps us guessing, so here are three questions to consider before you begin the writing process.
1. What are the different parts of a survey instrument?
2. What are good practices – and more importantly, what are the bad practices – that could land you in hot water?
3. How do you test your survey without putting your job in jeopardy?
Most surveys should follow a three section format, including the: 1) opener/screener section, 2) the main body, and 3) classification section. While we will go into these individual sections in more detail later in this series, keep in mind that some surveys may deviate from this format, although only under certain circumstances that are outside of the scope of this introduction.
Best (and worst) practices in survey writing
Writing in the vernacular of your respondents is a must for engaging them and providing a great user experience, while using unfamiliar words or long survey questions are some of the quickest ways to end up with unreliable data. Unfamiliar words keep respondents from answering your question truthfully, while long survey questions (or questionnaires) cause respondent fatigue and result in problems like straightlining.
Testing your survey professionally and ethically
A properly tested survey can save you thousands of dollars in cost overruns. We would need more than two hands to count the number of researchers who could have saved thousands of dollars if they have read and followed some basic survey testing principles that can be applied without spending a penny.
Simply put: testing your survey professionally and ethically is a must, and is equally as important as writing it correctly.
How to Write and Test a Market Research Survey, Part 2: Writing the Opener/Screener
How to Write and Test a Market Research Survey, Part 3: Writing the Main Body
How to Write and Test a Market Research Survey, Part 4: Writing the Classification Section
How to Write and Test a Market Research Survey, Part 5: Testing the Survey