Best Practices for DIY Survey Design

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Posted Apr 05, 2018

The concept of DIY, is no longer a new notion to the market research industry; in fact, the trend has been booming for quite some time now. The idea behind emancipating resources that would typically be used to hire research professionals that will design, program, or analyze survey data is especially appealing. With do-it-yourself tools exploding in the marketing arena, business owners can use DIY market research platforms with ease. Reducing the need to call in the pros is a wonderful way to increase profits, but it is imperative to recognize both the risks and opportunities of DIY research.

The Opportunities

Cost savings is valuable to any company, and that value is a leading benefit when conducting DIY market research. Making use of DIY survey tools means business owners won’t have to a pay a third-party research firm to conduct and manage the study. In other words, time and money are saved on duties such as; consultations, project management, survey design, programming, fieldwork, analysis, and reporting.

Naturally, the cost efficiency of utilizing DIY survey tools should be touted as one of the major profits of DIY market research, but there are additional advantages that companies can benefit from. Specifically, when there is a need to manage projects with fast turnaround times. Quick feedback on straightforward topics is often at the fingertips of business owners when conducting DIY research. Within a short period of time, DIY studies will provide full access to results that present a firsthand, in-depth understanding of hypothesis or theories being tested.

No one will appreciate your business like you; likewise, no one will understand your customer base like you either. Thus, by conducting DIY market research you will, not only, gain a deep understanding of your own product and services, but you will also obtain insight on objectives that can further content creation and marketing strategies.

The Risks

Drawbacks exist with any do-it-yourself project, but to avoid such drawbacks it is critical to be aware of the associated risks.

Deciding on survey design and how to phrase questions can be a faltering step for those attempting DIY market research. Even though the wording of a question may seem apparent to the researcher, survey respondents may struggle when answering questions that are ambiguous or unfocused. Weaknesses in question design and survey structure will often translate into muddled interpretations of the data. Furthermore, DIY surveys run the risk of linking survey questions to a company’s objectives. Ideally, every facet of a survey should deliver data that constitutes a business to make specific decisions that will accomplish organizational goals. Many DIY surveys are crowded with random questions that a company wants answered or assumes should be asked, even though those questions aren't related to the business objectives.

Despite there being several dangers associated with DIY research, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t or can’t be done. The fundamental takeaway is to implement safeguards that will ensure accurate data is collected.

Proper Preparations

Choosing to adopt a DIY research approach calls for proper preparations. Your DIY research process should incorporate several best practices that will allow you to, comfortably, accept accountability for the integrity of survey methodology. Some of these best practices include:

  • Strong Objectives. The first stage in effective market research is to consider how the survey results will be used. A researcher should prepare to tackle any issues or shortcomings that arise from a survey, as it is typical to implement corrective improvements based on the results.
  • Be Wary of Quick and Dirty. The ironic nature of the phrase, “quick and dirty” is driven from the fact that hasty developed studies can result in murky data. It is not uncommon for a DIY market research project to fulfill while failing to answer a key question or cover critical steps such as, targeting proper demographics. Being able to quickly collect survey results has obvious petitions, but it is important to approach with caution.
  • Strategic Sampling. An essential component of the research process is making sure you’re interviewing the correct target market. Though, it is not necessary to survey your entire consumer base at once. In some cases, breaking surveys up into manageable segments will make it easier for a researcher to interpret results into actions. For example, you wouldn’t survey 14-year-olds in the United States about their voting opinions. Nor should you feel comfortable making marketing decisions from a sample size of only five people.
  • Time Management. Managing a market research project is time-consuming. Being able to effectively bring together all of the key components in a timely fashion is a challenge, but a critical part of a researcher’s job. It is important to create a checklist of all the responsibilities the project will entail prior to launch. A detailed checklist will allow you to prioritize and formulate a proper research plan.  

The Takeaway

DIY market research can help companies push in-house marketing plans forward and manage constricted budgets or timelines. Though, it is essential to understand when it is time to phone the professionals. It is advisable to speak with a consultant when it comes to complicated research methodologies or developing research that will result in high-risk business decisions. A noble market research solution, will take the time to understand your objectives and assist with determining the best path, whether that's DIY or hiring a professional. Undertaking do-it-yourself projects like home improvement can be quite entertaining, but it is not as much fun when you accidentally knock a hole in a wall. Similarly, DIY research wouldn’t be much fun if the results leads your business in the wrong direction.

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