The market research industry is continually evolving, but research fundamentals are the foundation of everything we do in search of deeper, more meaningful, and more actionable insights. Always remember that at the heart of everything we do in market research are two things: people and opinions. Market research provides a way for us to analyze those two things using data. However, gathering that data is a tricky thing.
If you’re not collecting relevant opinions from the right people, all the data in the world won’t help you make effective business decisions. In other words, you need a market research provider that can consistently connect you with the right people at the right time in order to deliver the right data.
You need a market research provider you can trust to provide you with the critical data you need. It might sound simple, but it’s actually very complex. Finding the right provider is a lot easier when you know what questions to ask. Here are five questions to help you get started.
1. Where do you get your consumer panel?
The people included in a consumer panel can greatly affect the quality of the data you’ll collect through your market research surveys. A panel purchased from a secondary source or built through online ads or unethical (or illegal) methods – such as phishing for email addresses and contact information online – won’t deliver reliable survey results because the people on the panel are unlikely to be interested in providing accurate survey responses. With that in mind, you must ask market research providers if they own their panels or not and how people were recruited to join the panels.
Furthermore, just as you don’t want to use a consumer panel filled with bots or people who aren’t interested in providing truthful and useful responses to market research surveys, you also don’t want to use a panel filled with people who were recruited from a single source – even if that source is legitimate. The reason is because the panel won’t offer any diversity. Unless you have a reason to want to survey a niche audience that matches a panel using a single-source recruitment strategy, a homogenous panel would deliver skewed results that aren’t reliable for decision-making.
Instead, look for a panel of people who opted in to participate in surveys. Furthermore, those people should be verified as real, non-duplicate participants. For example, AYTM draws survey respondents from its proprietary consumer panel, PaidViewpoint.com. Using a unique fingerprinting system, AYTM ensures your survey respondents are not duplicates, automated bots, or professional survey takers.
AYTM also applies a TrustScore to every member of its panel which looks for inconsistencies in all respondents’ answers. The more consistent a survey taker is, the higher his or her TrustScore is. Panel members with higher TrustScores have more opportunities to take surveys through AYTM than members with lower TrustScores. Since the scoring system cannot be passed by a non-human, AYTM’s clients are assured that the data they gather from their surveys is always reliable.
2. Who is in your consumer panel?
It’s important that you learn as much as possible about the people on the consumer panel which will be used to collect responses to your survey. For example, the more you know about their demographic, psychographic, and behavioral traits and preferences, the more accurate your targeting will be. In other words, you’ll be able to ensure the right people are taking your survey without having to spend an exorbitant amount of money to find them. Ideally, you should be able to quickly, easily, and affordably find the right people within your research provider’s consumer panel.
For example, AYTM’s proprietary consumer panel offers access to over 25 million people around the world. AYTM tracks over 3,000 data points for its panel members. From hobbies to personality, and purchasing habits to green life, AYTM is able to find the right people to take the right surveys at the right times. Since AYTM keeps this information up-to-date, clients have confidence that the data they collect from their surveys is actionable.
3. How do I know respondents to my survey are providing quality answers I can rely on?
Quality survey responses start with quality survey takers. Questions #1 and #2 above will help you determine if market research providers are using quality consumer panels, but even a reliable panel can become less trustworthy over time.
First, consider how invested survey takers are in providing their opinions. AYTM requires that people quintuple opt-in and provide a variety of verifiable information to be accepted into its proprietary consumer panel. A person must be really serious about taking surveys to complete all of the required actions.
Second, it’s important to reward panel members appropriately. AYTM does this through monetary incentives and gamification. Rewards are given not just in exchange for taking surveys but also for referring others to the consumer panel. Rather than advertising on survey websites or communities, AYTM built a more reliable panel through referrals from its trusted members.
Third, market research providers must take steps to ensure panel members don’t experience survey fatigue. This happens when people are asked to take too many surveys, low quality surveys, or surveys that are too long and time-consuming. AYTM eliminates survey fatigue by limiting the number of surveys sent to each member over specific periods of time and limiting the number of questions and responses allowed within individual surveys. Futhermore, AYTM never rents out its list. That means its panel members only take high quality surveys from AYTM’s clients rather than surveys from third parties that are too long, broken, or not optimized for mobile devices.
Fourth, as discussed above, the quality of your data depends on whether you’re getting responses from the right people. Outdated information could skew survey results causing you to make poor decisions. To eliminate this problem, AYTM’s panel members are required to complete traits surveys on an ongoing basis to ensure the more than 3,000 tracked traits are always current.
4. How much will my research cost?
Market research can be expensive, and the price of your survey can climb very quickly. Make sure market research providers give you accurate pricing before you launch your survey. For example, confirm reports and raw data are included and there are no hidden fees.
The price of your survey is likely to vary depending on how large your target market is, how many questions you’re asking, and the types of questions you’re asking (e.g., multiple choice versus ranking). Identify your target audience and how many responses you want to get, and then, write your survey. Market research providers should be able to give you pricing with that information in hand.
You can determine how much your surveys will cost as you build your survey using AYTM’s survey platform. Each change you make to your survey adjusts the price calculator in real-time, so you always know exactly how much you’ll have to pay for your survey. AYTM also provides a guaranteed delivery time with your price, so you know exactly when you’ll get your data (usually within 24 hours). Your reports and raw data are available immediately after your survey is completed.
5. How sophisticated can my research get?
Sometimes, a simple survey will provide you with the data you need to make effective business decisions, but often, you need to get more sophisticated to gather and analyze the insights you truly need. In these situations, you need a market research provider that offers advanced question types, so you can conduct advanced analyses.
This is particularly true when you need to analyze consumers’ opinions as they relate to long lists of choices (e.g., products or attributes) using reordering, comparisons, and other research techniques. If your market research provider doesn’t offer advanced question types or research tests, then you won’t be able to get the data you need to make the best decisions for your business.
AYTM offers a variety of advanced question types such as comparison, reordering, slider, matrix, semantic differential, and more, as well as a variety of research tests and custom tools, including conjoint, maxdiff, Personality Radar, and more.
In addition, AYTM offers a feedback loop for researchers. You can reject up to 5% of responses to a survey’s open-ended questions that you believe are questionable, and AYTM automatically replaces them with fresh responses. Your feedback directly affects the respondents’ TrustScores. Similarly, you can give kudos to particularly thoughtful answers to open-ended questions, which positively affects respondents’ TrustScores. Ultimately, you receive the best data and AYTM’s proprietary consumer panel members receive feedback that ensures the panel maintains its quality and reliability.
If you’re looking for a market research provider, these five questions should be among the first you ask. If you’re already working with a market research provider and haven’t asked these questions yet, then you need to ask them right now.
Don’t accept a cursory response. Instead, demand a detailed answer to each of these five questions, and ask for client examples and referrals to gain a deeper understanding of users’ actual experiences.
Market research is essential to making the best business decisions, and the right market research provider can help you make those decisions with confidence. Don’t settle for anything less.