Interaction Newsletter, February/March 2000
Conducting great surveys: A measure of your success
By Trish Edwards
Everyone knows that measuring the effectiveness of your products or services just makes good business sense. But conducting a survey can be expensive and time-consuming.
“And if you don’t do it right, your results may not be valid,” says Joanne McNeish, manager, Marketing Research. “Whether you’re planning a full-blown survey or a quick, informal questionnaire, choosing your sample, size, posing the right questions, and properly analyzing the date received can make all the difference between success or failure.”
“When we wanted to conduct a survey recently to update readership information, the Marketing Research group helped us design the questionnaire,” says Greg Matthew, assistance product manager, Publications Mail, whose group produces Publication Mail Newsletter for some 4,500 customers.
“They were able to help us meet our tight deadlines while being very cost-effective. We got great advice o how to increase the response rate, as well as some very worthwhile ideas on how to gain more from the information collected.”
Lettermail Marketing tapped this internal resource also, when developing the PC Postage pilot framework. The group wanted to know whether the small office/home office market was likely to adopt PC Postage before rolling it out on a large scale. PC Postage allows users to purchase and print Lettermail and Parcel postage through their personal computer via CPC’s Internet Web site.
“Our business comes down to providing convenient solutions for our customers,” says Gail Ryan, director, Small Business and Consumer Solutions. “We wanted to be thoroughly involved with the details of this product pilot launch, and so we didn’t want the arms-length relationship you usually seek from a third-party research organization. Using our own research group allowed us to benefit from the advice and guidance of people who know our business better than anyone else.”
Marketing Research first conducted telephone interviews. Preliminary results suggested significant portion of the target market would adopt the product, and the next step they recommended was a six-week test in Calgary, which is now under way.
“The test results will be essential to support any decision to expand the service nationally,” says Ryan.
The Marketing Research group can help with your market-based information needs. They also conduct workshops on using marketing research effectively. For more information, contact director John Cardinal at (613) 734-3382, or managers Joanne McNeish at 734-3655 or Debbie Steting at 734-6315.
Eight quick tips on creating an effective questionnaire:
1. Aim for an appropriate sample size Decide what margin of error you are prepared to accept.
2. Make sure you’re reaching the right person Ask an introductory question to ensure the person is qualified to complete the survey.
3. Keep it simple A few focused questions will mean more questionnaires returned.
4. Use closed-ended questions Open-ended questions are poorly received and more difficult to code and analyse.
5. Keep it short Keeping your questionnaire to 10 questions or less will force you to keep your questions crisp and to-the-point.
6. Don’t use jargon or acronyms Use words everyone will understand.
7. Finally, don’t forget demographics This part will give you the basic data to help you analyze your results. Demographics include such information as gender, age, education, income and location.